Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hunger Strike at Florence, AZ Detention Center


I received a disturbing call from an ICE detainee in Florence, Arizona this afternoon, September 7, 2007.  He informed me, and I’ve confirmed, that approximately two days ago, roughly 60 men were transferred from Florence Service Processing Center to the Pinal County Jail facility with which ICE holds a new contract for detainee bed space.   Over half of those men are on hunger strike as a result of the conditions they have been subject to as a result of the transfer. 

According to the individual I spoke to, the detainees were promised that their transfer to the Pinal County Jail facility would not result in any loss of rights or privileges, however they encountered a thoroughly different reality upon arrival.  The account has been that the new transferees have been on 23 hour lock down in 2-man cells, and that there is no outside recreation area.  There have also been very serious complaints about food and water quality.  Additionally, Pinal County Jail carries out family visitation in the form of video conferencing.  Some who had been ordered deported had planned family visits during which they believed they would have contact visits for the last time with their loved ones.  That is no longer an option as a result of this transfer. Detainees were woken up in the early hours of the morning and many were not allowed to gather their personal property.  Many were forced to leave behind legal documents relating to their ongoing cases.

Many seem to feel that as a result of their detention by ICE in a non-ICE facility, they are neither subject to compliance with the ICE standards nor to privileges available to county inmates.  This appears to leave detainees in a peculiar legal limbo with regards to conditions of their confinement.

As you all know, a hunger strike is a serious endeavor and an effort that would be sadly wasted without solidarity and support from advocates on the outside.  I urge you to disseminate this information to advocates, groups, and communities as you see fit.

I have been in direct contact with attorneys at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Florence, Arizona, who have further confirmed these accounts. 

Thank you for your attention to this.

Raha Jorjani
University of California, Davis
School of Law Clinical Programs
One Shields Avenue - TB 30
Davis, CA 95616


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