BIG TICKET GIVEAWAY

Win 2 tickets to every event for a year! Click here to enter.

Present by The Daily Herald
The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Friday, May 9, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View/Northwest Detention Center


Human rights extend to all

A public good may spring from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The de facto immigrant prison, a private, contractor-operated facility at maximum capacity, violates basic human rights.
Earlier this year, 750 of the prison's 1,300 detainees went on a hunger strike to protest conditions. Concerns included the lack of essential health services, maltreatment by guards and the arbitrary use of solitary confinement.
The Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, introduced Thursday by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. and co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene, addresses the problem head on.
“After visiting the NWDC to speak with detainees on hunger strike, it was clear that more enforceable standards were necessary,” Smith said. “Many detainees are fathers and mothers who have committed no crime, yet are being held in unacceptable conditions for a prolonged period of time. This legislation is focused on improving living conditions for detainees and increasing oversight and  transparency.”
The NWDC falls under the rubric of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and holds everyone from lawful permanent residents with green cards to undocumented aliens.
Unlike the Federal Bureau of Prisons, standards at an ICE facility are not set by Congress, and Congress isn't authorized to review an institution's performance audit.
That will change if Smith's legislation passes. Detention center standards would be federally regulated and a rule-making committee would loop in stakeholders including medical experts, Smith's office said. It also would require unannounced audits and elbow the Department of Homeland Security to provide more humane alternatives to detention.
DelBene's communications director, Viet Shelton, said that the congresswoman “strongly believes Congress must take responsible, meaningful actions to improve the standards and conditions at these detention centers.”
The NWDC's troubles trace to legislation passed in 1996 that requires “expedited removal” of the undocumented, lumping together refugees and asylum seekers and extending the period for detention without a hearing.
An award-winning 2012 series by Lewis Kamb of the Tacoma News Tribune and Carol Smith of InvestigateWest revealed the scope of the problem, as well as the institution's invisibility.
How fundamental is this? “Detainees shall not be subject to inhumane treatment” reads Sec. 2. of the bill. Other provisions include rape prevention and accommodations for pregnant women, victims of torture and the elderly.
This is about human dignity, American values and human rights. It needs to pass.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Jon Bauer, News Editor/Content Development: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Hall of Famers
Hall of Famers: Olson leads Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame class
The Silvertips' anchor
The Silvertips' anchor: Austin Lotz has transformed his body and goaltending style
Stump finds a home
Stump finds a home: Couple adopts massive tree stump that washed up in Everett
Staying power
Staying power: Mill's gone, but Mill Town Credit Union still thriving