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ICE Bans Crayons in Family Detention Center Visiting Area

Prisoners who cause property damage in correctional facilities often receive swift punishment. It was no different for the very young prisoners held in one of the United States’ most controversial detention centers. Housed with their immigrant mothers in the GEO Group-operated Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, some creative toddlers marked on a table in the visitors’ area of the facility with crayons while their parents spoke with attorneys, prompting a ban on crayons for all children in the visitation area.

On November 17, 2016, The Guardian reported that Barbara Hines, a University of Texas adjunct professor and member of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), had written to ICE officials. Hines said of the crayon ban, “Treating a child’s color markings as ‘destruction of property’ is altogether inappropriate. And such markings are a cost that comes with the detention of children. It is extremely disturbing that ICE’s concern for GEO’s property takes precedence over the wellbeing of the children and their mothers’ rights to legal advice.”

Lawyers working on behalf of the nearly 600 mothers and children detained at Karnes said the ban on crayons was unnecessarily punitive. A petition circulated by RAICES calling for an end to the ban had gathered over 1,860 signatures as of January 2017.


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