Advocates Say ICE Detainees Held In Segregated Housing At Bristol County Deserve Right To Appeal

Prisoners' rights advocates say some immigrant detainees at the Bristol County House of Correction have been kept in isolation for close to four weeks with limited access to legal counsel and no written notice explaining their rights to an appeal.

On Thursday, Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts asked Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials for answers.

Mario Paredes, a staff attorney with the advocacy group, said they've been fielding concerns from attorneys and detainees that isolation may be in use as retaliation following a violent altercation earlier this month between immigrant detainees and sheriff's officers.

"We're hearing a range of things, from immigrants not having access to attorney phone calls and attorneys having to be the first one to call-in in order to access their clients," said Paredes. "Also, we're hearing that none of the detainees from the May 1 incident have received any type of written notice as to why they're even being held in segregation in the first place, or about their rights to appeal."

Paredes said it's important to keep in mind that the immigrants in ICE detention are held as civil detainees entitled to certain state and federal rights when it comes to appealing isolation.

Jonathan Darling, a spokesperson for the Bristol County Sheriff's Office, said in an email that of the 70 ICE detainees currently detained in the county's facilities, 28 are in "restrictive housing" units. He described those units as a "higher security housing unit with restrictions on non-legal visits, recreation time and some types of programming."

He confirmed all such units are single-person cells. The individuals were placed in the restrictive housing units, he said, while an investigation of the May 1 event takes place.

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Shannon Dooling Investigative Reporter
Shannon Dooling was an investigative reporter at WBUR, focused on stories about immigration and criminal justice.



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