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Upcoming Closure of Etowah County Detention Center is a Victory

Important Step toward Realizing Administration’s Pledge to Make the U.S. Immigration System More Humane   

ATLANTA – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) responded to the announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that they will be closing the infamous Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala., and limiting the use of the three other detention facilities. 
“This is an important victory for everyone who has endured brutal conditions at the Etowah Detention Center over the years as well as for their family members, community members and advocacy organizations who fight valiantly for their rights and to bring attention to abusive conditions and practices,” said Efrén C. Olivares, Deputy Legal Director of SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “It is also an important step toward the pledge President Biden and his administration made to roll back federal contracts with private prison companies and make our immigration system more humane.” 
Although ICE did not announce the closure of the Glades County Detention Center, they confirmed they will pause use of the facility and will not extend the guaranteed minimum number of beds there. 
“This is a promising step forward in our fight to shut down Glades. Our movement to end the detention of immigrants in this punitive place is getting stronger and we know the time is now.  There are currently no people detained at Glades and we need assurances that there won’t be more transfers or people detained there,” said Andrea Ruiz-Sorrentini, Litigation Advocate with the SPLC and member of the Shutdown Glades Coalition.  
The SPLC’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative teams have represented hundreds of individuals who have been subject to severe medical abuse and general neglect, including individuals at some of the facilities included in ICE’s announcement. 
In 2016, the SPLC released their findings from an investigation of immigrant detention centers in the South which found detainees were routinely denied their due process rights and frequently endure inhumane conditions in isolated facilities that have little oversight from the federal government. The report, Shadow Prisons: Immigrant Detention in the South, details a seven-month investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) and the Adelante Alabama Worker Center. 
Last Fall, two Congressional reports – one from the House Homeland Security Committee and one from the Oversight Committee – exposed ICE’s failure to meet basic standards of care and the deadly medical neglect at their detention facilities.