FOIA: Staggering Numbers of Sexual Abuse Incidents in ICE Detention

Earlier this year, our law firm filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking instances of sexual abuse in ICE detention facilities after many such stories from survivors: here, here and here.

The records were released in full and depict an astounding picture of consistent sexual violence in ICE detention facilities across the country. You can access the records here. The sexual abuse ranges from threats of violence to inappropriate touching to object penetrations committed by fellow detainees and staff.

Following a separate investigation, the Intercept reported that of the 1,224 complaints half of those who abused detainees worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which means that half of the abuses committed could have been avoided if persons had not been detained.

We would like to see a full federal investigation into these reports and for the rapid development of protocols to ensure that all such reports of sexual abuse are thoroughly investigated and resolved. Further advocacy efforts designed to end sexual violence should also focus on ending systems of mass incarceration. In this era of the Me too and Times Up movement, we need stronger advocacy than ever before to ensure that these acts of violence don’t continue to occur, and that we also work towards abolishing systems that continue to perpetrate this violence.

(All government agencies are subject to FOIA. Anyone can easily get started with their own records request using a free service such as MuckRock).

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