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Aba Civil Immigration Detention Standards 2012

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ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

ABA Civil Immigration
Detention Standards

ABA Civil Immigration
Detention Standards

The American Bar Association hereby grants permission for copies of the materials
herein to be made, in whole or in part, for classroom use in an institution of
higher learning or for use by not-for-profit legal service organizations, provided
that the use is for informational, non-commercial purposes only and any copy of
the materials or portion thereof acknowledges original publication by the ABA,
including the title of the publication, the name of the author, and the legend:
“Reprinted by permission of the American Bar Association. All rights reserved.”
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. To
request permission, contact the ABA’s Department of Copyrights and Contracts at:
The ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards were adopted by the ABA House
of Delegates in August 2012. Nothing contained herein is to be considered as the
rendering of legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining
such advice from their own legal counsel. These materials and any attachments
or related materials herein are intended for educational and informational
purposes only.

Project of the
American Bar Association
Commission on Immigration
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-1022
Megan H. Mack, Director

ISBN: 978-1-61438-761-9
© American Bar Association 2012
All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

ABA Commission on
Immigration 2011-2012

Karen T. Grisez
Eleanor Acer
Katherine Anne Brady
Avi Braz
Gabrielle M. Buckley
Roxella T. Cavazos
Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn
Donald Kerwin
Loren Kieve
Markenzy Lapointe
Honorable George Perez
Margaret D. Stock
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Advisory Committee
Neil S. Dornbaum
Jill E. Family
Christina A. Fiflis
Honorable Howard Hom
Christopher V. Nugent
Michael Sharma-Crawford
Anna Williams Shavers 
Macarena R. Tamayo-Calabrese
Julie Myers Wood

Neal R. Sonnett, ABA Board of Governors
Gabriel “Jack” Chin, ABA Criminal Justice Section
Llewelyn Pritchard, ABA Family Law Section
Maureen Essex, ABA Government and Public Sector
Lawyers Division
Lisa Ryan, ABA Section of International Law
Honorable Ira Sandron, ABA Judicial Division
Conchita Lozano-Batista, ABA Section of Labor and
Employment Law
Timothy Bertschy, ABA Section of Litigation
Sakima Kelly, ABA Young Lawyers Division
Laura L. Lichter, American Immigration Lawyers Association


Civil Immigration Detention Standards
Advisory Task Force


Donald Kerwin
Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies
Shaina Aber
Associate Advocacy Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Eleanor Acer
Director, Refugee Protection Program, Human Rights First
Michelle Brané
Director, Detention and Asylum Program, Women’s
Refugee Commission
Lynn S. Branham
Visiting Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School
of Law
Christina DeConcini
Director of Legislative Affairs, World Resources Institute
Michele Deitch
Senior Lecturer, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public
Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin
Sara Elizabeth Dill
Managing Partner, Law Offices of Sara Elizabeth Dill
Ur Jaddou
Former Chief Counsel, House of Representatives,
Committee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border
Security, and International Law
Kate Jastram
Director of Research and Programs, Miller Institute for
Global Challenges and the Law, University of California,
Berkeley, School of Law
Charles H. Kuck
Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC
Dora B. Schriro
Commissioner, New York City Department of Correction
Honorable James W. Ziglar
Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
Former Commissioner, Immigration and
Naturalization Service


Crowell & Moring LLP
Linda S. Bruggeman
Justin Gundlach


The ABA Commission on Immigration developed the Civil
Immigration Detention Standards to build on the ABA’s longstanding
leadership in increasing access to justice and humane treatment for
men and women in immigration detention. The Commission directs
ABA efforts to ensure fair and unbiased treatment and full due process
rights for immigrants and refugees within the United States. The
Commission and its dedicated staff members carry out this mission by
advocating for appropriate reform; providing education and training;
and operating pro bono projects in South Texas, Seattle, and San
Diego that provide direct legal services to individuals in need.
The Department of Homeland Security’s existing detention standards
originated through a process of collaboration between the ABA, the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and DOJ’s former Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS); they have been updated several times
since they were originally issued in 2000. The ABA Civil Immigration
Detention Standards were developed to provide the Department of
Homeland Security with a guide for transitioning to a civil detention
system that befits its civil detention authority. The civil standards
arise, in part, from the ABA’s extensive advocacy, monitoring, and
reporting on immigration detention, as well as its direct work with
men and women in detention.
The civil standards were developed with the assistance of an expert
Advisory Task Force that included a former Commissioner of the INS,
the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction,
and experts from the corrections, medical, academic, and other fields.
The Commission is very grateful for the generous contributions of
these experts and others who reviewed and commented on drafts of
the standards. The Commission is especially grateful to Advisory Task
Force Chair Donald Kerwin for his able leadership in coordinating the
work of the Advisory Task Force.
The Commission is deeply grateful for the pro bono assistance of the
law firm Crowell & Moring LLP, and in particular to attorneys Linda S.


Bruggeman and Justin Gundlach for their inspired research, drafting,
and coordination.
The Standards were adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in August
2012, with the cosponsorship of many ABA sections and committees,
an ABA affiliated organization, and several local bar associations,
including: the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory
Practice; the Criminal Justice Section; the Section of International
Law; the Judicial Division; the Standing Committee on Legal Aid &
Indigent Defendants; the Young Lawyers Division; the Atlanta Bar
Association; the New York City Bar Association; the Bar Association
of San Francisco; the Santa Clara County Bar Association; and the
American Immigration Lawyers Association; and support from the
Section of Litigation; the Family Law Section; and the Dade County
Bar Association.


Acknowledgments.............................................................................. vii
Table of Contents................................................................................ ix
Introduction......................................................................................... 1
II. Guiding Principles........................................................................... 3
III. Classification and Placement Process............................................ 7
IV. Physical Plant and Environment.................................................. 11
V. Daily Living Conditions................................................................ 13
VI. Communications......................................................................... 21
VII. Access to Legal Services............................................................... 25
VIII. Access to Health Care Services................................................... 31
IX. Access to Religious Services.......................................................... 33
X. Visitation....................................................................................... 37
XI. Administration and Staffing........................................................ 41
XII. Personal Security and Management of Residents....................... 45
XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation............................. 51
XIV. Grievances.................................................................................. 61
XV. Accountability and Oversight..................................................... 63
Glossary of Terms............................................................................... 67



The immigration detention and removal system is, by law, a civil
system. The persons within this system are not awaiting criminal
trials or serving prison sentences. Rather, most are in removal
(deportation) proceedings that are presided over by immigration
judges from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Executive Office
for Immigration Review (EOIR). Others have not yet been placed in
removal proceedings; or have been ordered removed and are awaiting
removal from the nation; or will never be placed in formal removal
proceedings because they are subject to administrative removal by
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The detention of
immigrants serves to ensure court appearances and effect removal. It
is not intended to serve a punitive purpose. By law, DHS must detain
broad categories of noncitizens, and it has the discretion to detain all
others in removal proceedings. A substantial percentage of persons in
its custody do not have criminal records, and only a small percentage
have criminal records based on violent conduct or pose a national
security threat.
Despite DHS’s civil legal authority, the management of the U.S.
immigration detention system is based on a criminal detention model.
Most persons in DHS custody — both those held by Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the shorter-term detainees held by
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — are housed in jails and jaillike facilities, which are mostly administered according to American
Correctional Association (ACA)-based standards that apply to persons
awaiting criminal trials.
DHS/ICE has recently made it a priority to transform the immigration
detention system from a criminal model into one that reflects its
civil detention authority. The American Bar Association (ABA) Civil
Immigration Detention Standards set forth below are intended to
provide a tool that will guide DHS in the transition to a comprehensive
civil detention system that does not primarily make use of jails and
jail-like facilities to house the persons in its custody. Although the
ABA recognizes the logistical and financial challenges involved in the

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

expeditious and complete transformation to a civil detention system,
it nonetheless urges DHS to adopt these standards quickly and to
begin to reconstitute its infrastructure and reform its system based
upon these standards.
In 2008, DHS/ICE released extensive performance-based national
detention standards (PBNDS) based on ACA standards for pretrial detention. In February 2012, ICE released its revised PBNDS
2011, which continue to be based on ACA standards for pre-trial
detention. In addition, DHS/ICE has developed civil detention
principles (not standards), which have been incorporated into its
statements of objectives (SOOs) used in soliciting bids for select new
detention facilities.
The ABA civil immigration detention standards are not intended to
be an exhaustive compilation of all the standards that might apply to
persons subject to DHS custody. Rather, they are intended to provide
DHS with a blueprint for developing civil detention standards,
particularly those that implicate access to justice and other ABA
priorities. The ABA standards are intended to assist DHS/ICE in its
“real time” efforts to reform the U.S. immigration detention system.
The ABA standards should be used by DHS/ICE to update the PBNDS
and to guide its comprehensive transition to a civil detention system.
The ABA standards are meant to apply to persons subject to DHS
custody, while recognizing the need to take more restrictive measures
for the limited percentage of residents who may represent a danger
to others or to themselves. The ABA offers these standards in order
to minimize the risk of civil and human rights violations against
immigration detainees. Facilities that do not meet the standards
should not house DHS detainees.


II. Guiding Principles

The principles below should guide DHS/ICE’s development of civil
detention standards, and underlie the non-exhaustive list of ABA
standards that follow:
A.	 The ABA civil immigration detention standards should exceed
the constitutional protections guaranteed to other populations
in custody, and should not be interpreted, in any particular, to
provide less generous standards or protections than those set forth
in the detailed DHS/ICE PBNDS and other standards set forth in
the laws, regulations and sections of model standards referenced
in this document. The ABA civil immigration detention standards
incorporate by reference the following, with supplemental
provisions incorporated by reference within the standards:
1. 	 Part VI of the ABA Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners,
which addresses health care.
2.	 Part X of the ABA Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners,
which addresses facility administration and staffing.
3.	 ICE’s PBNDS 2011 Terminal Illness, Advance Directives and
Death standard.
4. 	28 C.F.R. § 115, which implements the Prison Rape
Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), P.L. 108-79, codified at 42
U.S.C. §§ 15601-15609.
B.	 The ABA civil immigration detention standards should apply to
all residents in DHS custody, with the recognition that it will be
necessary to classify residents based on the risk they present to
others and to take more restrictive measures for persons (subject to
appropriate procedural protections) who may represent a present
danger to others or to themselves.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

C.	 Any restrictions or conditions placed on noncitizens — residents
or others — to ensure their appearance in immigration court or
their actual removal should be the least restrictive, non-punitive
means necessary to further these goals, and decisions to continue
to detain should be regularly revisited.1
D.	 Residents should not be held in jails or jail-like settings. DHS/ICE
should normalize living conditions in all detention facilities to the
greatest extent possible. Civil detention facilities might be closely
analogized to “secure” nursing homes, residential treatment
facilities, domestic violence shelters, or in-patient psychiatric
treatment facilities. Such facilities should have ample common
space, freedom to move within the facility, extended access to
indoor and outdoor recreation, and abundant opportunities to
relate to other residents and to persons outside the facility. The
level of security should be commensurate with propensity to
institutional violence and any security or safety concerns related
to the residents in individual facilities.
E. 	 Access to legal services is critical to a fair and efficient immigration
removal and detention system. Authorities should facilitate access
to legal and consular services, legal materials and information,
correspondence, and legal orientation presentations.
F.	 Facilities should allow for residents to seek and receive legal advice
and medical and psycho-social care; conduct legal research and
otherwise participate in the preparation of their cases; wash and
wear their own clothes; and practice their faith(s).
G.	 A noncitizen should only be detained based upon an objective
determination that he or she presents a threat to national
security or public safety or a substantial flight risk that cannot
be mitigated through parole, bond, or a less restrictive form of
custody or supervision. As a general rule, minors and pregnant or
nursing women should not be detained by DHS/ICE. References
to these groups in the standards should not be interpreted to
mean otherwise.


The continuum of strategies and programs used to achieve these core goals should range
from release on recognizance or parole, to release on bond, to community-based supervised
release programs, to “alternative to detention” programs with various levels of supervision,
to home detention (with strict conditions) that represent an alternative “form” of detention,
to detention in civil detention facilities. 	

II. Guiding Principles

H.	 DHS/ICE should vigorously oversee its contractors and its own
staff, and should bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring
adherence to these standards, for safeguarding and protecting
the rights of all residents, and for decisions related to release,
classification, and detention of persons subject to its jurisdiction.
I.	 All facilities in which persons are detained should be subject to
direct review and oversight by DHS. In addition, independent
observers should be permitted to monitor conditions in facilities,
to assess compliance with these standards, and to issue public
reports with findings and recommendations.
J.	 Facilities should respect the rights and dignity of all residents.
No resident should be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment or conditions.
K.	Congress should enact legislation to implement and fund
compliance with these standards.


III. Classification and Placement Process

A.	 Least Restrictive Alternative
1.	 The intake, classification, and placement process should be
used by DHS/ICE to determine whether a noncitizen should
be released, placed in an alternative-to-detention (ATD)
program or detained.
2.	 These standards presume use of the least restrictive means
available to prevent flight and otherwise to meet the limited
underlying purpose of detention.
B.	 Classification and Placement
1.	 If detention is necessary, DHS/ICE should consider all of the
resident’s relevant circumstances, risks, and needs, including
but not limited to the following, in determining custody
classification and detention location:
a.	 Location of the resident’s family, social and cultural
support systems, and legal counsel;
b.	 Prior criminal history and demonstrated propensity for
institutional violence, risk of flight, and security needs;
c.	Medical requirements, mental
handicapping conditions;




d.	 Other special conditions or vulnerabilities, e.g., if a
resident is pregnant or has custody of minor children; and
e.	 Availability of special programming.
2.	 The classification process should be systematized and should
be validated by experts independent of DHS.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

a.	 Assessment of residents for placement within the system
should be performed prior to assigning the resident to a
specific facility.
b.	 The assessment should be reviewed by facility staff within
24 hours of the resident’s arrival at the receiving facility.
c.	 Whenever it is determined that the placement is
inappropriate, DHS/ICE should be notified immediately
and should place the resident in a more appropriate facility.
3.	 DHS/ICE should rate and classify all facilities used to house
those in its custody based on their appropriateness and ability
to accommodate residents of different classifications. Facilities
should be rated according to their suitability to house persons
with different security and safety classifications, medical
and mental health needs, and other relevant factors like age
and gender.
4.	 Noncitizens should not be presumed to be dangerous or prone
to flight in the absence of credible information establishing
objective risk factors.
C.	 Facility Intake Process
1.	 The intake process should include an initial medical, dental,
and mental health screening that occurs prior to placement of
the resident in a detention facility, and in no event more than
12 hours after arrival. This screening should be performed by
a qualified medical professional.
2. 	 Each resident should receive a comprehensive medical and
mental health evaluation by qualified professionals no later
than 14 days after admission to a facility, and a thorough
medical and mental health assessment periodically thereafter,
in accord with community health standards. Unless a
dental emergency requires more immediate attention, an
examination by a dentist or trained personnel directed by a
dentist should be conducted within 90 days of admission.
3.	 All facilities should follow a uniform, validated protocol for
screening and assessing residents that is designed to identify
any issues requiring immediate or special attention, such as

III. Classification and Placement Process

a.	Any physical illness, substance withdrawal, or
communicable or chronic disease that could require
medical treatment;
b.	 Any mental health conditions that require treatment,
make the resident a risk to himself or herself or to
others, or make the resident especially vulnerable in a
detention setting.
4.	 Should a screening or assessment indicate that fuller medical or
mental health evaluation is required, such evaluation should
be conducted in a facility that can provide comprehensive
medical and mental health services.
5.	 Upon arrival at the facility, residents should be provided with
a DHS/ICE Handbook and a facility-specific handbook that
describe rules and procedures as well as resident rights under
these standards, each in a language the resident understands.
In-person assistance should be provided to persons who are
illiterate or have disabilities. In addition to written materials,
residents should be instructed on key points in the handbooks
in a language they can understand.
D.	 Review of Placements
1.	 In addition to assessing individuals in the initial intake
process, DHS/ICE should regularly review its placement and
classification decisions to ensure that residents are
a.	 Detained for the minimum time necessary;
b.	 Not detained indefinitely;
c.	 Reclassified and, if appropriate, transferred to another
kind of facility; and
d.	 Released if detention is no longer appropriate.
2.	 The initial review of a resident’s classification and placement
should be performed no more than four weeks after a resident
has entered a facility. An earlier review of classification and
placement should be triggered by factors including a change
in flight risk (such as eligibility for relief, attainment of legal


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

counsel, or ability to post bond) or a change in risk of harm
to the resident due to classification and placement.
3.	 Whenever it is determined that the placement is no longer
appropriate, DHS/ICE should be notified immediately and
should place the resident in a more appropriate facility.


IV. Physical Plant and Environment

A.	 Location of Facilities
Facilities should be located near the following:
1.	 Medical facilities capable of providing primary and secondary
medical treatment;
2.	 The resident’s family, social and cultural support systems;
3.	 A transportation hub; and
4.	 Adequate non-profit, pro bono, or low-cost legal services.
B.	 Physical Plant
The physical plant of a facility should:
1.	 Be clean and well maintained.
2.	 Be equipped with appropriate heating, air conditioning, and
ventilation systems: residents at risk of heat-related illness
or harm should be provided necessary access to cooled
environments during heat emergencies;
3.	 Allow for privacy, freedom of movement, and access to
outdoor recreation;
4.	 Be constructed and maintained so as to minimize noise to
residents and maximize access to natural light;
5.	 Be smoke-free and compliant with the Americans With
Disabilities Act;
6.	 Be regularly inspected to ensure compliance with all relevant
health, safety, and building codes;


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

7.	 Include sufficient and appropriate space to support the
programs and services referenced in these standards; and
8.	 Be secured by controlled access and perimeter walls if
necessary, but not by traditional prison-like towers, fences,
or barbed or concertina wire. A more secure perimeter may
be necessary for facilities or portions of facilities that detain
populations classified as having a propensity for institutional
violence or otherwise presenting a security or safety risk.


V. Daily Living Conditions

Each facility should provide private, safe, secure and sanitary facilities
to residents.
A.	 Privacy, Personal Possessions, and Physical Space
1.	 The physical dimensions of residential quarters should be
adequate to ensure compliance with fire and safety codes.
2.	 Facilities should provide each resident with access to:
a.	 A bed and mattress raised off the floor;
b.	 Blankets and fans, as appropriate;
c.	 Sufficient storage with a lock controlled by the resident to
afford access to personal possessions in the living area;
d.	Private showers and toilets, where practicable and
appropriate, based on security levels;2
e.	 Adequate light and control over lighting, i.e., residents
should be able to turn on a light in their sleeping quarters
at will and turn off lights that might impede sleep;3 and
f.	 Abundant natural light and views of the outdoors.
3.	 An inventory of personal property should be provided at
intake and a copy of the inventory should be provided to the
resident. Additionally, the resident should be provided with
copies of identity documents, including passports. Otherwise
lawful contraband that is taken from a resident should be
stored securely and immediately returned upon transfer
	 Modifications or accommodations for vulnerable populations, as defined in the glossary,
may be warranted where appropriate.
	 This standard should not be construed to preclude appropriate security precautions such as
night lights to facilitate safety.	


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

or release. Residents should be permitted to retain in their
possession non-contraband personal property.
4.	 Residents should have access to copies of all materials required
for legal proceedings, including passports and other official
documents, held by DHS/ICE.
5.	 Facility staff should provide storage for medications or
special dietary needs, and should monitor compliance with
prescription and other medication regimens. There should
be a presumption that residents are permitted to keep their
medications in their possession.
6.	 Residents should be allowed to wear their own clothing and
should not be subject to clothing restrictions apart from those
deemed strictly necessary for security.
7.	 If the resident does not have clean or adequate clothing,
the facility should provide him or her with clean, genderappropriate, well-fitting civilian clothing and underwear, in
good condition, with some variety (i.e., not uniforms) and
suited to the season and to the facility temperature.
8.	 Residents should be afforded uninterrupted quiet time after a
certain hour.
9.	 Facility staff should not conduct more than three headcounts
of residents per day, except where warranted for special
populations such as violent, mentally ill, or elderly residents
or in extraordinary circumstances. Headcounts should be
organized as check-ins and should not involve a lock-down
of all residents in their sleeping quarters.
10.	Residents should be afforded access to their personal funds
and banking services, as appropriate.
B.	 Communal Space
1.	 Communal areas should be reasonably accessible for most of
each day, although there may be additional restrictions on
access to dining areas and libraries.


V. Daily Living Conditions

2.	 Areas designated for dining should be separate from areas
designated for sleeping.
3.	 Non-private “living” areas should provide space for activities
that are communal (e.g., television viewing) as well as “quiet”
(e.g., reading). “Quiet” areas should be measured by decibels
to ensure that the area is indeed quiet.
4.	 Sufficient private space should be set aside for the provision of
services that cannot or will not be provided off-site, including
medical and counseling services.
5.	 There should be substantial outdoor space for recreation, with
grass unless the climate makes it impossible, and shelter from
sun or rain, including for aerobic activities and organized
events, as well as indoor recreation space for use in the event
of inclement weather.
6.	 There should be fair and equal access to all communal space.
7.	 Space should be sufficient to meet the needs of all residents.
8.	 A fair process should be established to allow residents, on an
equal basis, to reserve limited space or resources.
9.	 The facility should provide access to a commissary so that
residents can purchase non-essential items — including
certain food and clothing — at a reasonable price that is
competitive with prices in local stores.
10. 	Residents should be able to work for compensation.
11. 	Residents should be permitted to order items through the
mail, subject to screening for contraband and safety purposes.
12.	 Toilets and common areas should be cleaned on a regular and
frequent schedule, and as necessary.
C.	 Food Service
1.	 Residents should be provided adequate and nutritionally
balanced diets.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

a.	 Diets should be reviewed at least quarterly by food service
personnel and at least annually by a qualified dietician.
b.	 Diets should meet U.S. recommended daily allowances as
certified by a qualified dietician.
c.	 Residents should be served three meals every day, at least
two of which should be hot meals.
d.	 The dining schedule should provide for no more than 14
hours between the evening meal and breakfast.
e.	 Clean drinking water should be available at all times.
f.	 The diverse nutritional needs of residents of different ages,
levels of activity, physical condition, gender, religious
affiliation, and medical needs (including pregnant women
and nursing mothers) should be met.
g.	The facility should accommodate the ethnic and
religious diversity of the facility’s population when
preparing menus.
2.	 Residents, staff and others should be protected from harm by
the application of sound security practices in all aspects of
food service and dining room operations.
3.	 Residents, staff and others should be protected from injury and
illness by adequate food service training and the application
of sound safety and sanitation practices in all aspects of food
service and dining room operations.
4.	 Food should be served at appropriate temperatures.
5.	 Food service areas should be clean and well lighted.
6.	 Dining room facilities and operating procedures should
provide sufficient space and time for residents to eat meals in
a relatively relaxed, unregimented atmosphere.
a.	 The table arrangements should provide for unassigned
seating and ease of movement.


V. Daily Living Conditions

b.	 The dining room should have the capacity to permit each
resident a minimum of 40 minutes dining time for lunch
and dinner, and 30 minutes for breakfast.
c.	 Residents should retain sufficient access to dining room
facilities outside of regular meal times to enable cleaning
and/or disposal of food-related items consumed outside
of dining areas.
7.	 Food service facilities and equipment should meet established
governmental health and safety codes, as documented by
relevant agencies and experts independent of DHS.
8.	 Food service areas should be continuously inspected by food
service staff and other assigned personnel in accordance with
established health and safety guidelines.
9.	 Therapeutic medical diets and supplemental food should be
provided as prescribed by appropriate medical personnel at
no cost to the residents.
10.	Special diets and ceremonial meals should be provided at
no cost to the residents for residents whose religious beliefs
require adherence to religious dietary laws.
11.	Where practicable, the facility should permit the private
storage of food for religious or medical needs, and should
permit residents to prepare meals for special cultural and
religious occasions.
12.	 Food should never be used for reward or punishment.
13.	 The food service areas should be subject to regular inspection
by independent and licensed entities.
D.	 Freedom of Movement and Recreation
1.	 Residents should be permitted the maximum amount of
freedom of movement within the facility, both indoors and
outdoors, consistent with the safety and security of residents
and staff.
a.	 Except where necessary to ensure safety and security,
residents should be able to move freely and without

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

escort during daylight hours within and between the
areas designated for housing and recreation.
b.	 Reasonable access should be afforded to general reading
and law libraries in accordance with Standard VII. Access
to Legal Services.
c.	 Access to medical facilities and medical treatment should
be available upon request in accordance with Standard
VIII. Access to Health Care Services.
d.	 Restraints should not be applied to residents when
medically contraindicated, including during labor and
2.	 Residents should be permitted extended access to indoor and
outdoor recreational and exercise activities on a daily basis.
a.	 Indoor recreational space should permit aerobic activities
and games such as table tennis and other organized events.
b.	 The outdoor recreation area should be located outside
a building, and should include grass, shade and shelter
from rain, sitting areas, exercise equipment, and space
for sports. Exercise equipment should be maintained in a
safe condition.
c.	 Residents should have free access to outdoor recreation
throughout the day, weather permitting.
d.	 Residents participating in outdoor recreational activities
should have access to drinking water and toilet facilities.
e.	 All residents, including residents in administrative or
disciplinary separation, should have access to outdoor
and indoor recreation.
f.	 Common rooms should offer and be large enough to
accommodate board games, television, and opportunities
for residents to engage in independent and small-group
recreational activities.


V. Daily Living Conditions

g.	 Facilities should provide residents with opportunities
to access programmatic activities consistent with their
length of stay. Residents in custody for 14 days or more
should be able to access educational, skills-development,
English language, programs required for compliance
with court orders or family reunification case plans, and
other programs.
h.	Facility staff should provide monitoring of the
recreational areas to the extent necessary to ensure the
residents’ safety.
i.	 Access to outdoor recreation should not be denied as a
disciplinary measure.


VI. Communications

A.	 Correspondence and Other Mail
1.	 Residents should be permitted to correspond with families,
friends, legal personnel, the news media, and U.S. and foreign
government and consular officials.
2.	 The amount and content of correspondence that residents
send at their own expense should not be limited, except to
protect public and facility safety and security.
3.	 The facility should provide writing paper, writing implements,
and envelopes at no cost to the residents.
4.	 Indigent residents should receive
a.	 A postage allowance for personal correspondence; and
b.	 Necessary postage for special or legal correspondence.
5.	 The facility should provide a postage allowance to all
residents if the facility does not have a system for residents to
purchase stamps.
6.	 Incoming and outgoing mail, except for special or legal
correspondence, should be opened by facility staff only for
purposes of inspection for contraband.
7.	 Incoming and outgoing mail, except for special or legal
correspondence, should be read or withheld by staff only with
the permission of the director of the facility and as necessary
to protect public and facility safety and security. Residents
should be promptly notified in writing when mail is withheld
in whole or in part. The facility should provide a process by
which a resident may appeal to federal officials a decision by
the facility to withhold mail.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

8.	 Special or legal correspondence should be opened by facility
staff only in the presence of the resident, and should not be
read by facility staff.
9.	 Residents should be permitted to receive packages, including
items ordered through the mail, except as necessary to protect
safety and security. Facility staff should open packages only
for purposes of inspection for contraband.
10.	The facility should process incoming and outgoing mail as
expeditiously as possible, and in no event less than once
per day.
11.	Legal personnel should be permitted to deliver documents
to residents other than by regular mail in accordance with
Standard VII.C.2.
B.	 Telephonic and Other Real-Time Communications
1.	 This subsection applies to telephones and non-telephonic
forms of real-time communication, such as videoconferencing
and e-mail.
2.	 Residents should have reasonable and equitable access to
modestly priced telephone services. Charges imposed for
phone use should be competitive with rates charged to the
3.	 Residents with hearing or speech disabilities should be
accommodated in order to permit reasonable access to
telephone services, e.g., with a TTY device or accessible
telephone. Residents with speech or hearing disabilities
should be permitted extra time for calls.
4.	 Residents should be able to make no-cost calls and send
e-mail (if the receiving entity allows), and receive e-mail from
the following as necessary:
a.	 The EOIR (including the BIA), and immigration courts;
b.	 Federal, state, and family courts in which the resident is
or may become involved in a legal proceeding (including
proceedings involving parental rights);


VI. Communications

c.	 Legal representatives and personnel;
d.	 Embassy and consular officials;
e.	 DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG);
f.	 The UNHCR for asylum-seekers and stateless residents;
g.	 Federal, state, and local government offices to obtain
documents relevant to the resident’s immigration case
or documents necessary to comply with court orders or
arrangements for their children;
h.	 Family members or other individuals assisting with the
resident’s immigration proceedings;
i.	 Immediate family or others in personal or family
emergencies or where a compelling need arises; and
j.	 DHS, including its Joint Intake Center and the ICE
Public Advocate.
5.	 Residents should have access to telephone services for a
minimum of 30 minutes per resident per day, at reasonable and
appropriate times, including during regular business hours as
necessary. Residents with speech or hearing disabilities should
be provided with sufficient extra time to use the telephone.
In addition to this 30-minute minimum, residents should
also be permitted to make calls to and receive calls from legal
counsel without time restriction, unless such restriction is
deemed necessary for reasons of heightened security.
6.	 Indigent residents should be provided with a telephone
allowance for calls to persons other than those identified in
Standard VI.B.4.
7.	 Telephones should be located in convenient and private areas
sufficiently distanced from television and other activities that
might be distracting.
8.	 Telephone calls should be presumptively private and should
be monitored or recorded only as necessary to assure safety
and security. Telephone calls with legal representatives and


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

personnel should be treated as confidential and should
not be monitored or recorded, and should otherwise be
subject to the provisions in Standards VII and XV, relating
to communications with legal personnel and confidential
communications with external monitoring agencies.
9.	 Residents should be informed as part of a comprehensive
orientation and shown (thereafter) in-person how to request
private areas for telephone calls and other confidential
communications with legal representatives, caseworkers, or
family courts.
10.	Telephones should be maintained in good working order.
Facility staff should inspect the telephones daily, promptly
report out-of-order telephones to the repair service, and ensure
that repairs are completed quickly. Out-of-order telephones
should not excuse the facility from providing telephone
access required by other provisions of these Standards.
11.	 Residents who are held separately from others should not be
denied access to telephone services.
12. 	Residents should have access to the internet for at least one
hour every three days, with sufficient, additional time for
legal research, and should have access to e-mail in order to
communicate with legal personnel and their families, subject
to reasonable security-related restrictions and limitations. The
confidentiality of legal communications should be respected.
13.	 Residents should have access to a telephone and corresponding
telephone number, where they can receive incoming calls
from criminal or family courts in order to comply with
required telephonic appearances.
14.	 Residents should have easy access to notaries public. A notary
should be available to residents every day.


VII. Access to Legal Services

A.	 Access to Legal Services
1.	 Residents should be able to meet with current or prospective
legal representatives and other legal personnel, court
personnel, witnesses, translators, family members and
others who can assist them in the preparation of their cases
(including the UNHCR), and embassy and consular officials.
2.	 Residents should also have access to the legal system
including access to criminal, family, and juvenile courts;
parole and probation hearings; and administrative processes
and proceedings in which they have an interest.
3.	 No resident with legal representation should be unwillingly
transferred to another facility except in extremely limited
circumstances related to the security, safety, health or wellbeing of the resident, other residents, or facility staff. DHS/ICE
should document the necessity for the transfer beforehand and
provide concurrent notice of the reassignment to the attorney
of record. Such notice should include contact information
for resident at the new facility, as well as description of the
mode of transfer (e.g., bus, airplane, etc.) and expected time
of arrival.
4.	 There should be meaningful and timely access to legal
personnel, including but not limited to the following:
a.	 Legal personnel should have the ability to visit, call via
phone or web- or videoconference, or communicate
electronically with residents at a minimum of 12 hours
a day, including in the evening and on weekends.
Residents should be notified of the hours and rules for
legal visitation; and information should be posted in the
waiting areas, visiting areas, and housing areas. Facility


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

staff should consider requests for legal visitation outside
of normal hours.
b.	 Legal counsel should not be required to provide advance
notice of meetings, and any restrictions on advance
notice for meetings should be minimal and based solely
on maintaining facility security. The time between the
arrival at the facility of a legal representative or translator
and a scheduled meeting with a resident should not
exceed 30 minutes.
c.	 Sufficient private rooms should be set aside (including on
short notice) to accommodate private communications,
including video and telephonic communications between
residents and legal personnel. These meeting rooms
should allow legal counsel to review written documents
with resident clients, and should not include Plexiglas or
other barriers separating legal counsel from the residents,
except in extraordinary cases involving safety risks.
d.	 Meetings should take place in a setting where conversation
cannot be overheard or recorded by staff or other residents.
Facility staff should not be present in the confidential
area during the meeting unless legal personnel so request.
In such cases, the meeting should be afforded the greatest
degree of privacy possible, including through visual but
not auditory monitoring.
e.	 Post-meeting searches may take place according to the
provisions in Standard X. Visitation.
5.	 Legal personnel should be permitted to take laptops and
smartphones into the courtroom and to visits with clients.
The facility may opt to provide its own equipment to legal
representatives upon an individualized determination of risk.
6.	 Facilities should house or be located near immigration
courtrooms to the greatest extent possible in order to allow inperson court hearings. In no event should videoconferencing
should be used for merits hearings. Facilities should provide
transportation to residents to allow for in-person merits
hearings at the relevant immigration court.

VII. Access to Legal Services

a.	 If the facility houses a courtroom, it should comply
with requirements set forth by EOIR, and should enable
residents to have private hearings outside the presence of
other residents.
7.	 Residents should have no-cost access to telephones, e-mail
and video technology in order to communicate with legal
representatives, according to the provisions under this
section and Standard VI.B Telephonic and Other RealTime Communications. Legal communications may not be
monitored or recorded. Legal personnel should be able to leave
messages for residents, which should be delivered promptly.
8.	 Access to interpreters, translators or other services required to
provide meaningful access to legal services should be provided
on the same basis as access to legal personnel. Telephonic
and video access to interpreters should be permitted for
residents who speak less common languages and for whom
local interpretation services are not readily available. Legal
personnel should be permitted to bring interpreters of their
choice to meet with residents, including interpreters from the
law office who may or may not be on a facility-approved list.
9.	 ICE should ensure that each facility posts the list of local free
legal services providers, updated regularly by EOIR. The list
should be posted in resident housing units, near telephones,
and in other appropriate areas, and copies should be made
available upon request.
B.	 Access to Legal Materials and Information
1.	 Residents should have access to updated legal materials
including current relevant codes, regulations, court rules, selfhelp materials, and legal forms. Sufficient private space should
be set aside to enable residents to conduct legal research.
2.	 Each facility should maintain a law library that includes
computer terminals with access to legal materials. The latter
may be provided via on-line services like LexisNexis or
Westlaw. Instruction on how to use computers, including online services, should also be provided. The law library should
include updated editions (in hardcopy) of the relevant codes,

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

regulations, operating instructions, case reporters, treatises,
self-help materials, model pleadings, court procedures, and
other legal materials.
3.	 Residents who are unable to access legal resources or prepare
for immigration or other proceedings because of language or
reading limitations should have access to alternative services,
including confidential translation services.
4.	 Officials should not read, alter, or destroy a resident’s legal
materials. Officials may inspect legal materials for physical
C.	 Access to Legal Correspondence
1.	 Residents should be permitted to send and receive special
and legal correspondence confidentially, including by mail,
facsimile, and e-mail (with reasonable limitations), and
be provided access to copy machines, postage and notary
services, according to this Standard and Standard VI.A
Correspondence and Other Mail.
2.	 Facility staff should provide for the privacy of correspondence
between residents and legal representatives. Facilities
should afford the means for secure delivery of materials and
documents from legal personnel to residents, including by
mail, personal visits, and drop-off.
3.	 Under no circumstances should legal mail be read by anyone
other than the intended recipient. Legal mail may be
searched only for physical contraband, and searches should
be conducted only in the presence of the resident to or from
whom the letter is addressed.
D.	 Legal Orientation Presentations
1.	Facilities should permit representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit legal
services organizations to conduct confidential legal orientation
presentations, including group presentations and meetings
with one or more residents, upon request. Legal orientation
presentations may be pre-representational or take place
after representation has been secured. They should include

VII. Access to Legal Services

information regarding immigration laws and processes, child
custody matters, obtaining travel documents, and arranging
for a child to join a parent in the event of deportation.
Legal orientation presentations should be afforded the same
confidentiality as legal meetings under this Standard.
2.	 Legal orientation presentations should be permitted to take
place in person or via web- or videoconference. Facilities
should provide adequate meeting space for in-person
3.	 Legal orientation presentations should be scheduled multiple
times per week as needed to accommodate residents. Requests
for presentations should be granted to the greatest extent
practicable. Facility staff should publicize legal orientation
presentations in advance, with accurate information about
the content and provider of the presentations, and permit
residents to participate as often as is practicable.
4.	 Presenting organizations should be permitted to provide
written materials regarding immigration court procedures
and the availability of legal information, relief from removal,
and other relevant information, in accordance with Standard
VII.B Access to Legal Materials and Information.
5.	 Facilities should regularly show the ABA Know Your Rights
video on video monitors, and also make it available in the law
library on demand.
6.	 Facility staff should also provide a comprehensive orientation
to all new residents, covering, inter alia, the programs,
physical plant, rules, procedures, and policies of the facility.


VIII. Access to Health Care Services

This section incorporates by reference the standards in Part VI of the ABA
Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners. The subsections below supplement
the standards in Part VI. In cases where the contents of Part VI conflict with
the subsections below, the subsections below should be followed.
1. 	Health care screening should be performed only by medical
professionals, not security staff. Healthcare providers
should be fluent in the languages predominant among the
resident population.
2.	 Residents should not be sedated in order to facilitate their
cooperation with removal from the country.
3.	 Restraints should not be used for patients in labor or post-partum,
or when medically contraindicated. Residents should not be
examined while they are in restraints.
4.	 A standard DHS/ICE electronic medical record will be used at all
detention facilities.
5.	 Female health and hygiene needs should be fully met. Provision for
these needs should include a choice of feminine hygiene products.
6.	 Residents should not be charged fees for necessary health care
services. Required medications should be included in the facility
formulary, whether or not they are available for purchase by
residents, to assure access to necessary medical care.
7.	 Residents should always be told the name and the dosage of any
medication they are given, and should be permitted access to a
written record of the same, which residents can, if they so choose,
permit legal personnel to see.
8.	 No resident should be allowed to provide health care evaluation
or treatment to any other resident.


IX. Access to Religious Services

A.	 Right to Practice Religion
1.	 Residents of all faiths should have reasonable and equitable
opportunities to attend religious services and engage in
practices consistent with their faith traditions. In accordance
with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of
2000, DHS/ICE and facility policies should avoid imposing
a substantial burden on residents’ religious exercise except
where the “least restrictive means available” is employed to
serve a “compelling government interest.”4
2.	 No matter where residents are held they should be afforded
the protections of federal law. In the event that a resident
is held temporarily in a hospital or a separate unit because
of a health emergency or security-related incident, he or she
should continue to have access to religious activities and
practices to the extent compatible with medical and security
3.	 Attendance at all religious activities should be voluntary
and religious personnel at the facility should employ a nonproselytizing model of pastoral care.
4.	 All religions represented in a detention population should
have equal status without discrimination based on the
resident’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender,
sexual orientation, disability or health status.
5.	 Religious service providers should have reasonable access to
facilities and residents. Residents of faiths not represented
by religious services staff should be assisted at their request
	 The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq.; Religious
Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq.



ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

in contacting external clergy or religious service providers.
Facilities should allow entry of religious services providers’
interpreters. Visits from religious personnel should not count
against a resident’s visitor quota.
6.	With respect to religious headwear, these standards
incorporate by reference the standards contained in the DHS
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ (CRCLs’) Guidance
for Accommodating Religious Beliefs in DHS Policies Requiring
Fingerprinting or Photographic Identification.
B.	 Religious Services Coordinator
1.	 Each facility should have a professional Religious Services
Coordinator — a position that should be held by non-security
personnel — or a chaplain who should facilitate arrangements
for religious services and for pastoral visits by clergy and other
representative of the residents’ faith(s).
2.	 The Religious Services Coordinator should have a basic
knowledge of different religions and should ensure equal
status and protection for all religions. A chaplain should have
the minimum qualifications of clinical pastoral education
or specialized training, and endorsement by the appropriate
religious-certifying body.
3.	 In lieu of these qualifications, the facility administrator may
accept adequate documentation of the recognized religious or
ministerial position in the chaplain’s faith community.
4.	 Religious Services Coordinators and chaplains should have
the necessary training to connect residents with a broad
range of religious services and be willing and able to arrange
religious services for multiple faith traditions.
C.	 General Requirements for Access to Religious Services
1.	 Adequate space, equipment and staff (both clerical and
security) should be provided for conducting and administering
religious programs in areas of the facility that are not used as
a cafeteria or for concurrent programs.


IX. Access to Religious Services

2.	 Upon entry to a facility, residents should be informed of the
availability of religious services, and how to request and access
those services. Each resident should be asked to designate any
religious preference, or none, during intake processing.
3.	 Staff, contractors and volunteers should not disparage the
religious beliefs of residents, nor coerce or harass residents to
change religious affiliation.
4.	 A resident should be permitted to change his or her religious
preference designation at any time by notifying the chaplain
or religious services coordinator in writing. The change
should be effected in a timely fashion.
5.	 Residents should not be required to remove their religious
headwear for intake pictures, where the headwear does not
obscure facial features.
6.	 Residents should be permitted to maintain their hair,
including beards and facial hair, according to their faith
practices and should be provided with personal hygiene items
necessary for the practice of their religion(s).
7.	 Facility records should reflect the reasons for any limitation
or discontinuation of a religious practice. A resident may
submit a request for information concerning the reason for
the denial of access to religious activities, facilities or meals.
A copy of the request and a response to the request and the
reason for denial should be placed in the detention file.
8.	 The ceremonial use of items and legal substances such
as sacramental wine or incense that would otherwise be
considered contraband inside a civil detention environment
should be permitted under strict supervision. These
substances should be dispensed under strict supervision
for the sole and specific purpose of a religious ritual. The
Religious Services Coordinator or chaplain should inform
the facility staff of the procedures for procuring, storing,
and using the substance or item in authorized services. The
use of such items should be accomplished in a manner that
avoids unnecessary and potentially disruptive confiscation of
essential sacred elements.

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

9.	 Facilities should devote sufficient resources to purchasing
and soliciting donations of religious texts and literature from
multiple faith traditions, including but not limited to Korans
and Bibles in versions acceptable to different Christian and
Jewish groups (including the Hebrew Bible). This literature
should be available in diverse languages. Residents should
have access to multi-lingual religious libraries provided by the
religious services program, as well as access to electronically
available religious resources.
10.	Facilities should accept religious materials such as rosaries,
prayer shawls, prayer rugs or kurda provided by outside
sources. The religious services coordinator will review all
donated materials in light of need, safety and security
considerations prior to their use or distribution.
11.	 Religious volunteers’ background checks should be completed
within two weeks. DHS should aim to clear religious personnel
who are stationed inside facilities within one month.
D.	 Marriage, Illness, and Death Issues
1.	 Residents who have applied to and received approval from
the ICE Field Office to marry should be permitted to do so.
On-site marriage facilities should conform to relevant state
law requirements.
2.	 The Religious Services Coordinator should ensure that
during intake residents indicate whether they have religious
preferences regarding health care choices and disposition
of remains.
3.	The Religious Services Coordinator should coordinate
appropriate religious ceremonies and rituals at the time of
a resident’s serious illness or death in accordance with the
resident’s preferences, and following discussion with the
resident’s family. The coordinator should advise the facility
administrator regarding religious factors that may influence
decisions concerning the performance of autopsies and proper
disposition of remains. See Standard XII.G Serious Illness and
Death in Custody.


X. Visitation

A.	 In-facility Visitation
1.	 Residents should be housed within a reasonable distance of
their family, social and cultural support systems, or usual
residence. ICE should promote regular visitation by family
members and friends.
2.	 In the absence of security concerns, residents should be
permitted to contact family members to arrange for visitation
and in advance of a transfer to a remote detention facility.
3.	 When more than one family member is held in immigration
custody, DHS/ICE should facilitate visitation between them
and, if requested by the residents, should reunite them.
4.	 Facilities should permit contact visitation. Glass partitions,
tables, or other physical barriers should not prevent contact
between residents and visitors during contact visits. For
example, handshaking, embracing, and kissing should be
permitted at least at the beginning and end of the visit. Noncontact visits may be required only following an individualized
determination that a contact visit poses a danger to security
or safety. Such non-contact visits should ordinarily be in
person absent an individualized determination that an inperson visit would pose a danger. Residents or visitors may
request non-contact visits. Each restriction of visits should
be documented.
5.	 Videoconferencing is not an acceptable substitute for contact
visitation. Videoconferencing may be used to enable contact
with family and friends who are distant or have difficulty
traveling to the facility, but should not be used as the form
of visitation provided to visitors who are physically at
the facility.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

6.	 Visitors should be permitted to visit every day including
holidays, and during early morning, evening, and weekend
hours. Visiting hours and rules should be standardized
and communicated to residents in a language or manner
they understand. Visiting hours and rules should be made
available to the public including by phone, TTY, and internet,
in English, Spanish, and other languages commonly spoken
by residents and visitors.
7.	 Time limits for visits should be generous, at least two hours
ordinarily, with additional time for visitors who must travel
significant distances or are unable to visit frequently. Visitors
should not be required to wait for protracted periods before a
8.	 Facility visiting areas and visitor waiting areas should
be comfortable and pleasant, with water and food items
available, and with easy access to restrooms. Space should be
provided for secure storage of visitors’ coats, handbags, and
personal items.
9.	 Facilities should not screen visitors’ immigration status,
or require visitors to provide a Social Security number.
Visitor identification may include documents issued by
foreign states, and identification without photographs if
photographic identification is unavailable for religious or
other acceptable reasons. Minors should not be required to
produce identification. Visitors should not be excluded based
solely on a prior conviction.
10.	 Visitors may be subject to personal search using nonintrusive
screening techniques such as pat down, metal detectoraided searches, and visual inspection of handbags and
other containers.
11.	 Verbal consent of residents should be sufficient to see visitors.
12.	Visits to consenting residents from community volunteers
should be accommodated.
13.	 Visitors should be permitted to leave money or property for
residents, and should be provided with a receipt. Property


X. Visitation

may include religious items, reading material, pictures, legal
documents, eyeglasses, dentures, personal address books,
correspondence, wedding rings, and telephone calling cards.
14.	 Residents who are separated for administrative or disciplinary
reasons should retain visiting privileges.
B.	 External Visits
1.	 Residents should be permitted to visit family members
detained at the same facility as well as family members
detained at another facility.
2.	 Residents who are detained for more than 30 days should be
permitted to request to be transferred to a facility that is more
conducive to visits by family and friends.
3.	 Residents who are detained for more than 90 days, particularly
those with U.S. citizen family members and minor children,
should be eligible to leave a facility for home visits. DHS/
ICE may impose reasonable conditions, including electronic
monitoring and/or an escort, to ensure a resident’s continued
custody and return.
4.	 Residents should be permitted to leave a facility for compelling
humanitarian reasons such as a visit to critically ill family
members, to attend funerals or wakes, or to attend family court
proceedings, criminal proceedings, or probation meetings.
DHS/ICE may impose reasonable conditions, including an
escort, to ensure the resident’s return. If in-person attendance
is not possible, attendance through videoconferencing or
telephone should be arranged.


XI. Administration and Staffing

This section incorporates by reference the standards in Part X of the ABA
Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners. The subsections below supplement
the standards in Part X. In cases where the contents of Part X conflict with
the subsections below, the subsections below should be followed.
A.	Professionalism
1.	 In their interactions with residents, facility staff should
model fair, respectful, and constructive behavior; engage
in preventive problem solving; and rely upon effective
a.	 Staff should address individual residents by the name(s)
that they choose to be addressed.
b.	 Residents should be referred to as “residents” or by their
chosen name, and should not be referred to as “prisoners,”
“inmates,” or any other term connoting incarceration.
c.	 Staff should not wear prison-type uniforms or be referred
to as “guards.”
d.	 If facility staff learns of a threat or actual harm to a resident
or to staff, he or she should report that information
promptly to a supervisor. Staff should also report any
information relating to corrupt or criminal conduct by
other staff directly to the facility administrator and to
an independent government official with responsibility
to investigate staff misconduct. Staff should provide
investigators with full and candid information about
observed misconduct.
2. 	 DHS/ICE should collect, update, and make readily accessible
to the appropriate officials and staff (through its standard
information systems) all resident information that is


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

necessary to comply with its civil detention standards and
custody review and release procedures.
B.	 Staffing and Recruitment

Facilities should be appropriately staffed to promote safety for all
residents and staff, allow the full operation of all programs and
services, and provide reasonable work schedules for staff.
1. 	 Facility staffing should be sufficient to enable staff to engage
in direct supervision in communal spaces during hours not
designated for quiet and sleep.
2.	 Facility staffing should be sufficient to enable staff to be
present in sufficient numbers to minimize the need for
imposing restrictions on freedom of movement and to
facilitate access to different sections of the facility.

C.	Training
1.	 All facility staff should be adequately trained. Facility
administrators should require all staff to participate in a
comprehensive pre-service training program and a regular
program of in-service training and specialized training when
appropriate. Training programs should equip staff to:
a.	 Understand the constitutional and other legal rights of
residents relevant to the staff’s professional duties;
b.	 Understand and ensure compliance with these standards;
c.	 Maintain order while treating residents with respect;
d.	 Possess multicultural awareness and understand cultural
e.	Communicate effectively with
residents from different cultures;
f.	Use
resolving conflicts;





g.	 Identify and respond to medical and mental health
emergencies, recognize and report the signs and


XI. Administration and Staffing

symptoms of mental disability and suicide risk, and
secure appropriate medical and mental health services
in response;
h.	 Detect and respond to signs of threatened and actual
physical and sexual assault and sexual pressure
against residents;
i.	 Avoid inappropriate relationships, including any sexual
contact, with residents;
j.	 Facilitate resident use of the grievance process, and
understand the grievance process’s benefits for staff
and facilities;
k. 	Maintain appropriate records, including clear and
accurate reports; and
l. 	 Maintain their professional qualifications and credentials
through regular training and recertification.
2.	 Staff should have ready access to copies of these standards,
and written policies and procedures related to operation of
the facility.
3.	DHS/ICE and facility administrators should provide
specialized training to staff who work with specific types of
residents to address the physical, social, and psychological
needs of such residents, including women, persons who face
language or communication barriers, persons with physical
or mental disabilities, persons who are under the age of 18,
elderly persons, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)
persons, torture survivors, asylum seekers, and others.
D.	 Privately Owned or Administered Civil Detention Facilities
1.	 DHS/ICE should be able to move residents from privately
owned or operated facilities to alternative civil facilities if
termination of the contract proves necessary. DHS/ICE should
develop a comprehensive plan, in advance of entering into
any contract, to ensure that it can meet this responsibility.
Housing in county jails is not an acceptable alternative to
civil detention.

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

2.	 Decisions relating to the length and location of a resident’s
confinement, discipline, transfer, and temporary or permanent
release, should never be delegated to a private entity.
3.	DHS/ICE should implement procedures to monitor
compliance with its detention contracts and these standards
systematically, regularly, and using a variety of on- and offsite monitoring techniques, including reviewing files and
records, physically inspecting facilities, and interviewing staff
and residents.


XII. Personal Security and Management of Residents

A.	 Personal Security
1.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should implement
procedures to identify residents who are vulnerable to physical
or sexual abuse, manipulation, or psychologically harmful
verbal or other abuse by residents or by staff, and to protect
these and other residents who request and need protection.
2.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should take all practicable
actions to reduce violence and the potential for violence in
facilities and during transport. DHS/ICE should promptly
and thoroughly investigate and make a record of all incidents
involving violence, and should take appropriate remedial and
disciplinary action.
3.	DHS/ICE and facility administrators should exercise
reasonable care with respect to the property that residents
lawfully possess or have a right to reclaim. DHS/ICE should
provide a remedy for residents whose property is lost by
facility staff or is stolen.
B.	 Prevention of and Response to Sexual Assault and Abuse

This subsection incorporates by reference the provisions of 28 C.F.R.
§ 115, which implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003
(PREA, P.L. 108-79, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 15601-15609), directing
how facilities should prevent and report sexual abuse or harassment
perpetrated against residents. The subsections below supplement the
above referenced law and regulations. In cases where the contents
of that law and regulations conflict with the subsections below, the
subsections below should be followed.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

1.	 DHS/ICE and facility staff should protect all residents from
sexual assault by other residents, as well as from pressure by
other residents to engage in sexual acts.
2.	 DHS/ICE and facility staff should protect all residents from
any sexual contact with or sexual exploitation by staff,
including volunteers and employees of any governmental or
private organizations who work in the facility.
3.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should establish and
publicize the means by which residents and staff may easily
and confidentially report to DHS/ICE, facility administrators,
and appropriate outside entities that a resident has been
sexually assaulted, is being pressured to engage in sexual
acts with another resident or staff, or there has been sexual
contact or exploitation involving a resident and staff.
4.	 Facility administrators should promptly relay any such
report, or any other information they obtain regarding such
conduct, to DHS/ICE.
5.	 DHS/ICE should implement a policy of prompt and thorough
investigation of any credible allegation of the threat or
commission of sexual assault, or any sexual contact between a
resident and staff. DHS/ICE and facility administrators should
take all appropriate steps to protect the resident from further
sexual assaults, contacts, or exploitation.
6.	 Medical treatment and testing, and psychological counseling,
should be made immediately available to victims of sexual
assault or sexual exploitation by staff or other residents. DHS/
ICE and facility staff, including health care staff, should be
trained to identify and document signs of sexual assault and
should implement a protocol for providing victims with a
thorough forensic medical examination performed by an
appropriately trained and qualified medical professional.
7.	 DHS/ICE and facility staff, including health care staff, should
not disclose information about any incident of resident sexual
abuse, except to other staff or law enforcement personnel who
need to know about the incident in order to make treatment,


XII. Personal Security and Management of Residents

investigation, or other security or management decisions, or
to appropriate external oversight officials or agencies.
C.	 Prevention of Harm
1.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should take all practicable
actions to reduce violence and the potential for violence in
civil detention facilities and during transport. DHS/ICE and
facility administrators should promptly and thoroughly
investigate and make a record of all incidents involving
violence, and should take appropriate remedial action.
2.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should implement
procedures for identifying residents who are vulnerable to
physical or sexual abuse, manipulation, or psychologically
harmful verbal or other abuse by residents or by staff, and
for protecting these and other residents who request and
need protection.
3.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should implement
procedures to identify residents at risk of suicide and to
intervene to prevent suicides. When an initial mental
health screening or any subsequent observation identifies
a risk of suicide, the resident should be placed in a safe
setting and be promptly evaluated by a qualified mental
health professional, who should determine the degree of
risk, required level of supervision, and appropriate course of
mental health treatment.
D.	Searches
1.	 Searches of a resident’s body, living quarters, and possessions
should follow written protocols that implement this Standard.
2.	 Pat-down searches and other clothed body searches should
be conducted only after contact visits or upon individualized,
reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing or a threat. Pat-down
searches should be conducted by staff of the same gender as
the resident; should be brief; and should avoid unnecessary
force, embarrassment, and indignity to the resident.
3.	 Visual searches of a resident’s private bodily areas should
be conducted only upon entry into the facility or upon

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

probable cause to believe the resident is carrying contraband.
Such searches should be conducted by trained personnel of
the same gender in a private place out of the sight of other
residents and of staff not involved in the search, except that
a resident should be permitted to request that more than one
staff member be present.
4.	 Facility staff should conduct all searches of resident living
quarters and possessions so as to minimize damage to
or disorganization of resident property and unnecessary
invasions of privacy. A resident should be permitted to
observe a search of his or her living quarters or possessions.
The invasiveness of a search into a resident’s sleeping area,
possessions, or clothing should be proportionate to the
grounds for the search.
5.	 Legal materials should be searched only for contraband, and
should not be read, reviewed, altered, or destroyed during the
course of a search.
6.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should keep records of all
facility searches. The records should identify the circumstances
of the search, the persons conducting the search, staff and
residents who were witnesses, and contraband or other
confiscated materials. The resident should be given written
confirmation of the property confiscated.
E.	Discipline
1.	 All decisions to administer discipline should be approved by
2.	 Disciplinary procedures should provide residents with a
meaningful opportunity to contest alleged violations and to
appeal disciplinary determinations.
3.	 Disciplinary measures should be incremental and proportionate
to violations.
4.	 In no case should disciplinary measures, including disciplinary
separation, deny or limit:


XII. Personal Security and Management of Residents

a.	 Access to sufficient light to permit reading in the resident’s
housing area, and access to reasonable darkness during
sleeping hours;
b.	Adequate ventilation,
as necessary;





c.	 Opportunity to sleep;
d.	 Access to medication, medical devices, or other forms
of healthcare;
e.	 Nutrition, including access to water;
f.	 Visits or communication with counsel, clergy, or family
members; or
g.	 Access to outdoor recreation.
F.	 Use of Force
1.	 Facility administrators should authorize the use of force
against a resident only:
a.	 To protect and ensure the safety of staff, residents,
and others; to prevent serious property damage; or to
prevent escape;
b.	 If facility administrators reasonably believe the benefits of
force outweigh the risks to other residents and staff; and
c.	 As a last alternative after other reasonable efforts to
resolve the situation have failed.
2.	 In no case should staff use force against a resident:
a.	 To enforce an institutional rule or an order unless the
disciplinary process is inadequate to address an immediate
security need;
b.	 To gratuitously inflict pain or suffering, punish past or
present conduct, deter future conduct, intimidate, or gain
information; or
c.	 After the risk that justified the use of force has passed.

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

3.	 Restraints should only be used in emergencies: if a resident’s
behavior poses an immediate risk to the safety of others
or to the resident, or poses an immediate risk of serious
property damage; and if less restrictive means have been
determined to be ineffective. When restraints are necessary,
authorities should use the least restrictive forms of restraints
that are appropriate and should use them only as long as
the need exists, not for a predetermined period of time.
Restraints should not be applied to residents when medically
contraindicated, including during labor and postpartum.
G.	 Serious Illness and Death in Custody

This section incorporates by reference ICE PBNDS 2011 Standard 4.7
Terminal Illness, Advance Directives and Death Standard, including
the ICE Directive on “Notification and Reporting of Detainee Deaths,”
Directive 7.9-0, October 1, 2009. The subsections below supplement
that Standard. In cases where the contents of that Standard conflict
with the subsections below, the subsections below should be followed.
1.	 DHS/ICE and facility staff should establish and comply with
clear procedures involving the proper manner to notify
residents and their families in cases of serious illness or death
of either residents or their family members.
2.	 When a resident dies, DHS/ICE should promptly notify family
members, consular officials, and the appropriate medical
examiner of the death and its circumstances.
3.	 An autopsy should be performed whenever a resident dies in
ICE custody.
4.	 All deaths of residents, including their circumstances, should
be immediately reported to DHS/ICE headquarters and to
other federal agencies that collect data on deaths in custody.
5. 	 In the event of serious illness or death, religious preferences
expressed by residents should be followed to the
extent possible.


XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation

This section incorporates by reference all protections afforded by the ABA
Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners Standard 23-2.7 (“Rationales
for long-term segregated housing”), and Standard 23-2.9 (“Procedures for
placement and retention in long-term segregated housing”). The subsections
below supplement those Standards. In cases where the provisions of those
Standards conflict with the subsections below, the subsections below should
be followed.
A.	 Separation Generally
1. 	DHS/ICE should ensure that facilities have the capacity
to separate residents from the general population for
administrative and disciplinary reasons.
2. 	 The due process protections available to residents should be
proportionate to their anticipated time in separation.
B.	 Administrative Separation
1.	 Administrative separation status is a nonpunitive status in
which restricted conditions of confinement are required only
to ensure the safety of residents or others, the protection of
property, or the security or good order of the facility.
2.	Residents in administrative separation should not be
commingled with residents in disciplinary separation.
3.	 DHS/ICE should develop and follow written procedures,
consistent with this standard, governing the separation
of residents. Facilities should provide detailed reasons for
placement of an individual in administrative separation.
Residents and their attorneys should be provided prompt
written notice of administrative separation decisions.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

4.	 Prior to the resident’s placement in administrative separation,
a facility supervisor should review the case in order to
determine whether administrative separation is warranted.
5.	 Reasons for Placement in Administrative Separation
a.	A resident should be placed in administrative
separation when the resident’s continued presence
in the general population poses a threat to
life, property, self, staff, or other residents; for
medical reasons; or under other circumstances set forth
below. Examples of incidents warranting a resident’s
assignment to administrative separation may include, but
are not limited to, the following:
i.	 A resident is awaiting an investigation or a hearing
for a violation of facility rules, but only as necessary
to protect the security and orderly operation of
the facility.
ii.	 A resident is a threat to the security of the facility.
iii.	A resident requires protection. Separation may be
initiated at the resident’s request or by staff in order
to protect the resident from harm. DHS/ICE should
develop procedures for separation of residents in
these circumstances, as well as to reintegrate them
into the general population post-separation.
6.	 Review of Resident Status in Administrative Separation
a.	 DHS/ICE should develop written procedures for the regular
review of all residents held in administrative separation,
consistent with the procedures specified below.
b.	 A facility supervisor should conduct a review within
24 hours of the resident’s placement in administrative
separation to determine whether separation is still
warranted. The review should include an interview with
the resident.
c.	 A written record should be made of the decision and
its rationale.

XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation

d.	 A supervisor should conduct an identical review after
the resident has spent seven days in administrative
separation, and every week thereafter, at a minimum.
e.	 The review should include an interview with the resident,
and a written record should be made of the decision and
its rationale.
f.	 A copy of the decision and rationale for each review
should be provided to the resident unless, in exceptional
circumstances, this provision would jeopardize the
facility’s safety, security, or orderly operations. The
resident should also be afforded an opportunity to appeal
a review decision to DHS/ICE. The appeal should take
into account the resident’s views and should result in a
written record of the decision and its rationale.
g.	 A daily report should be kept and reviewed monthly by
DHS/ICE that explains decisions to keep a resident in
administrative separation.
h.	When a resident has been held in administrative
separation for more than 30 days cumulatively, the
facility should notify DHS/ICE in writing.
C.	 Disciplinary Separation
1.	 A resident may be placed in disciplinary separation only by
order of the facility administrator, after a hearing in which the
resident has been found to have committed a crime or a serious
violation of a facility rule, and when alternative dispositions
would inadequately regulate the resident’s behavior.
2. 	 Duration
a. 	The maximum stay in disciplinary separation is 30
days, except in extraordinary circumstances. If facility
staff wishes to separate a resident for more than 30
days, staff should send a written justification to a DHS/
ICE supervisor.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

3.	 Review of Resident Status in Disciplinary Separation
a.	 DHS/ICE should implement written procedures for
the regular review of all disciplinary separation cases,
consistent with subsection b:
b.	 A security supervisor, or the equivalent, should interview
the resident and review his or her status in disciplinary
separation every seven days to determine whether
the resident is provided showers, meals, visitation,
recreation, law library access, and appropriate treatment
in accordance with these standards.
4.	 The supervisor should document his or her findings after
every review.
5.	 The supervisor should recommend the termination of
disciplinary separation upon finding that it is no longer
necessary to regulate a resident’s behavior.
6.	 The supervisor may shorten, but not extend, the original
term of separation.
7.	 All review documents should be placed in the resident’s
detention file.
8.	 After each formal review, the resident and his or her attorney
should be given a written copy of the reviewing officer’s
decision and the basis for his or her finding, unless this
step would compromise institutional security. If a written
copy cannot be delivered, the resident should be advised of
the decision orally, and the detention file should so note,
identifying the reasons why the notice was not provided in
D.	Requirements for Administrative and Disciplinary
1.	 Requirements generally
a.	 Conditions of separation should be based on the amount
of supervision required to control a resident and to
safeguard the resident, other residents and facility staff.


XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation

b.	 Residents should be evaluated by a medical professional,
including for mental health, prior to placement
in separation.
c.	 Separated residents should be permitted as much time
out of their rooms as possible, consistent with good
security practices.
d.	 In every instance, any exceptions to these requirements
should be:
i.	 Made only for the purpose of ensuring resident and
staff safety (i.e., not for purposes of punishment);
ii.	 Approved by a DHS/ICE supervisor;
iii.	On a temporary and situational basis, continued
only for as long as is justified by threat to the
safety or security of the facility, its staff, or resident
population; and
iv.	 Documented in both the facility’s records and the
individual resident’s detention file.
2.	 Special Needs
a.	 Separated residents should be provided appropriate
accommodations and professional assistance for special
conditions as needed (e.g., translation and interpretation
services; and medical, therapeutic, or mental health
treatment), on an equal basis as residents in the
general population.
3.	Rooms
a.	Rooms used for purposes of separation must be
appropriately sized, well ventilated, adequately lit,
heated/cooled as necessary, and maintained in a sanitary
condition at all times in accordance with the standards
for general population.
b. 	 Residents should be able to exercise control over lighting
in their rooms and should have access to natural light, if
the physical plant allows it.

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

4.	Privileges
a.	 Administrative Separation
i.	Residents in administrative separation should
receive the same privileges available to residents in
the general population, consistent with safety and
security considerations for residents and facility staff.
They should be provided opportunities to spend
time outside their rooms (in addition to the required
recreation periods), in order to socialize, watch
television and pursue other activities.
b.	 Disciplinary Separation
i.	 Residents in disciplinary separation may be subject
to more stringent controls, particularly as relates to
personal property.
E.	 Supervisory and Staff Visits

In addition to the direct supervision performed by facility staff:
1.	 Shift supervisors should review each unit in which separated
residents are held and see each resident on a daily basis,
including on weekends and holidays.
2.	 Program staff may visit a separated resident upon the
resident’s request.

F.	 Health Care

This subsection incorporates by reference the provisions of the ABA
Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners Standard 23-2.8 (“Segregated
housing and mental health”) that pertain to the monitoring of the
mental health of residents in segregated housing.
1.	 Health care personnel should conduct face-to-face medical
assessments at least once each day for separated residents.
When an assessment creates cause for concern, it should be
followed up with a complete evaluation by a qualified medical
or mental health professional, and indicated treatment.


XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation

2.	 Residents with serious mental illness should be placed in a
setting within or outside of the facility in which appropriate
treatment can be provided.
3.	 Separation should not be viewed or used as treatment for
mental health issues.
4. 	 Residents with serious mental illness should not be placed in
prolonged solitary confinement.
5.	 Residents with serious mental illness who are separated
should be evaluated outside of their cells by a mental health
provider at least once every seven days for routine care as well
as to determine whether or not continued separation is or
will be detrimental to their mental health.
6.	 Medical visits should be recorded, and any action taken
should be documented in a separate logbook and in the
individual resident’s detention file.
G.	Communications
1.	 Separated residents should be permitted to write, send and
receive letters and other correspondence, in a manner similar
to those housed in the facility’s general population.
2.	 Separated residents should have access to telephones
in a manner that is consistent with safety and security
requirements. They should be permitted to place calls to
attorneys, other legal representatives, courts, embassies,
consulates, and government offices, including the DHS OIG,
DHS CRCL, ICE Joint Intake Center, and ICE’s Public Advocate.
Telephone access may be denied only as necessary to protect
the security of the resident, other residents, or the security
or orderly operation of the facility. Denials of telephone use
should be documented.
H.	 Access to Legal Services
1.	 Separated residents should have access to legal services in
accordance with Standard VII. Access to Legal Services, subject
only to restrictions necessary to ensure the safety and security


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

of the resident, visitor, or facility staff. A resident’s attorney of
record should be notified of any separation within 24 hours.
2.	 Residents separated for their own protection should be
provided access to legal research tools and materials. Such
residents may be required to use the law library at separate
times from the general population. If such residents do
not have equal or equivalent access to the law library, legal
materials should be brought to them upon request.
3.	 Denial of access to the law library should be supported by
compelling security concerns; for the shortest period required
for security; and fully documented in the facility logbook.
4.	 The facility administrator should notify DHS/ICE every time
access is denied, and documentation, including the rationale
for denial, should be placed in the detention file.
5.	 DHS/ICE and facility staff should notify separated residents in
advance of legal orientation presentations and provide these
residents an opportunity to attend, except when a particular
resident’s attendance poses a security risk. If a separated
resident cannot attend for this reason, designated facility
staff should make alternative arrangements to offer a separate
presentation and individual consultation to the resident.
I.	Visitation
1.	 Separated residents should retain visiting privileges.
2.	 Separated residents should ordinarily be able to use the visiting
room during normal visiting hours. The facility may restrict
or disallow visits for separated residents only as necessary to
protect the security of the resident or to ensure the security or
orderly operation of the facility.
3.	 When visits are restricted or disallowed, a report should be
filed with the facility administrator and DHS/ICE, and made
part of the resident’s file.
4.	 Separated residents in need of protection, as well as violent
and disruptive residents, may be prohibited from using the
visitation room during normal visitation hours as necessary

XIII. Administrative and Disciplinary Separation

to protect the resident(s) or the security or orderly operation
of the facility. Visits may be disallowed only as necessary to
protect the security of the resident(s) or the security or orderly
operation of the facility.
J.	 Access to Religious Services

Separated residents should be permitted to participate in religious
practices in accordance with Standard IX. Access to Religious
Services, subject to restrictions necessary to protect the safety and
security of the resident, visitor, or facility staff, or to ensure the
orderly operation of the facility.

K.	 Reading Materials (Non-Legal)

Separated residents should have access to reading materials,
including religious materials.

L.	Recreation
1.	 Separated residents should be offered at least two hours of
recreation and exercise per day, outside their rooms and with
other residents, scheduled at a reasonable time, at least seven
days per week. Such residents should also have access to radio
and television.
2.	 Separated residents should be provided with weatherappropriate equipment and attire where cover is not provided
to mitigate inclement weather.
3.	 Recreation should be denied or suspended only if the
resident’s recreational activity may unreasonably endanger
safety or security.
4.	 When a separated resident is deprived of recreation (or any
usual authorized items or activity), a written report of the
action should be forwarded to the facility administrator.
Denial of recreation must be evaluated daily by a shift
5.	 A resident in disciplinary separation may temporarily lose
recreation privileges upon a written determination that he


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

or she poses an unreasonable risk to the facility, to himself or
herself, or to others.
6.	 When recreation privileges are suspended, the disciplinary
panel or facility administrator should provide the resident
with written notification, including the reason(s) for
the suspension, any conditions that must be met before
restoration of privileges, and the duration of the suspension
provided the requisite conditions are met for its restoration.
7.	 The denial of recreation privileges should be included as part
of the regular reviews required for all separated residents.
The reviewer(s) should state, in writing, whether the resident
continues to pose a threat to self, others, or facility security
and, if so, how.
8.	 Recreation privileges should be denied for more than seven
days only in extreme circumstances and with the written
concurrence of the facility administrator and a health care
9.	 The facility should notify DHS/ICE in writing when a resident
is denied recreation privileges for more than seven days.


XIV. Grievances

A.	 Establishing and Notification of Procedures
1.	 The facility should provide meaningful and timely procedures
for residents to submit grievances against staff and other
residents, as well as in response to facility conditions, failure
to comply with these standards, or the non-provision or
deficient provision of medical care.
2.	 Facility staff and residents should be fully informed of
grievance procedures.
3.	 Residents should be able to bring grievances in a confidential
manner, through a formal process, to facility administrators
and to DHS/ICE officials.
4.	 DHS/ICE should be the final arbiter of grievances.
B.	 No Retaliation

Retaliation for filing grievances should be strictly prohibited.

C.	 Records and Reporting
1.	 Records of grievance submissions and their resolution should
be maintained at the facility and by DHS/ICE.
2.	 Records of grievance submissions and their resolution should
be available for review by DHS/ICE, inspectors and facility
3.	 Grievances in each facility should be aggregated in a monthly
report to DHS/ICE headquarters that includes information
about the types of complaints, their resolution, and the time
for completion. These monthly reports should be available
through open records requests.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

4.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should routinely review
grievances for patterns in complaints, including complaints
about particular staff members, particular parts of the facility,
or failure to comply with these standards.


XV. Accountability and Oversight

This Part incorporates by reference ABA Standards on the Treatment of
Prisoners Standards 23-11.4 (“Legislative oversight and accountability”)
and 23-11.5 (“Media access to correctional facilities and prisoners”), which
pertain to legislative oversight and media access.
A.	 Internal accountability
1.	 DHS oversight units, including CRCL, should review all
facility inspection reports, and should prepare reports that
summarize the facility inspection reports, highlight findings
and recommend improvements at least twice annually. These
biannual reports should be promptly released to the public.
2.	 If DHS/ICE contracts for provision of any services or programs,
it should ensure that the contract requires the provider to
comply with all civil detention standards and to meet the
related performance outcomes. DHS/ICE should implement a
system to monitor compliance with its contracts, to hold the
contracted providers accountable for any deficiencies, and
to terminate its use of facilities that do not perform critical
activities or meet required outcomes.
3.	 Accreditation agencies should develop standards for civil
detention facilities and DHS/ICE should ensure that facilities
meet these standards.
4.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should regularly review
use of force reports, serious incident reports, separation
reports, and grievances, and take any necessary remedial
action to address facility or system-wide problems.
5.	 DHS/ICE should routinely collect, analyze, and publish
statistical information on detention operations, including
attorney visits, family visits, security incidents, sexual
assaults, resident grievances, uses of force, health and safety,

ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

spending on programs and services, program participation
and outcomes, staffing, and employee discipline.
6.	 DHS/ICE should develop uniform national definitions and
methods of defining, collecting, and reporting accurate and
complete data.
7.	 Congress or state or local government authorities should
not exempt DHS/ICE or detention contractors from the
Administrative Procedure Act, Freedom of Information Act,
or Public Records Act.
B.	 External regulation and investigation
1.	 Independent governmental bodies responsible for such
matters as fire safety, sanitation, environmental quality, food
safety, education, and health should regulate, inspect, and
enforce regulations in facilities.
2.	 Facilities should be subject to the same enforcement penalties
and procedures, including abatement procedures for
noncompliance, as are applicable to other institutions.
3.	 Independent observers, including NGOs, should be permitted
to monitor compliance with these standards and to issue
public reports. DHS/ICE and detention administrators
(including contract or jail employees) should allow observers
complete access to the facility and should cooperate as fully
as possible with observer requests, including by international
4.	 DHS/ICE and facility administrators should encourage
and accommodate visits by judges and lawmakers and by
members of faith-based groups, the business community,
institutions of higher learning, and other groups interested
in immigration detention issues.
C.	 Access to Facility by Non-Governmental Organizations
1.	 NGOs, other stakeholders, and the press should be authorized
upon request to tour facilities and to conduct interviews with
staff and consenting residents, and to issue public reports.


XV. Accountability and Oversight

2.	 Denial of tour requests or of access to any part of a facility or
to particular staff or residents should be explained in writing.
3.	 DHS/ICE may require that access requests include names of
tour participants and be submitted as many as 10 business
days in advance of the requested tour date.
4.	 Tour participants should be able to pre-identify consenting
residents with whom they wish to meet, and ask that
consenting residents sign up for meetings on site. Consistent
with ICE’s Stakeholder Procedures for Requesting a Detention
Facility Tour and/or Visitation, participants should not be
required to pre-identify residents in order to meet with them
during a tour.
5.	 Residents should be informed that speaking with tour
participants is voluntary, and that tour participants are not
government representatives and that residents should not
solicit legal representation from them.
6.	 Tours should ordinarily include housing units, medical
facilities, libraries, recreation areas, dining facilities, kitchens,
visitation areas, separation units, and other areas of interest
to the tour participants.
7.	 Residents should be permitted to meet with tour participants
in a setting where their conversation cannot be overheard or
recorded by staff or other residents. Communication should
not be through a glass or other barrier.
D.	 Access to Facility by Foreign Government Officials and
Supranational Organizations
1.	 DHS/ICE should inform residents of their right to have embassy
and consular officials notified that they are in custody.
2.	 Upon request by the detainee, embassy and consular officials
should be allowed to visit privately with any resident who is
a citizen of their country.
3.	 Embassy and consular officials should be given the opportunity
to visit with residents on short notice and outside of usual


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

visiting hours, and to exchange confidential documents with
the residents.
4.	 Representatives of international and intergovernmental
organizations should be allowed to visit civil detention
facilities and speak confidentially with residents and staff.
5.	 Consular officials should be able to visit, converse and
communicate with, and otherwise have full access to their
nationals who are in DHS/ICE custody, unless the resident
declines the visit, consistent with the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations.


Glossary of Terms

Administrative Separation – see Separation.
Assessment is the process conducted at intake in which an individual’s
legal, medical, family and other circumstances are considered and
measured against categories employed by DHS/ICE to determine the
resident’s classification.
Classification is the decision made based on the assessment process
as to whether a person subject to DHS custody should be detained,
where (geographic), at what manner of facility, and subject to what
special conditions.
Detainee (Immigration Detainee) is a person held in DHS
custody due to a potential or confirmed violation of civil immigration
laws. Since “detainee” may connote criminal and short-term custody,
these standards typically use the term “resident” to refer to persons in
DHS/ICE and DHS/CBP custody. See “Resident” below.
Direct Supervision is an approach to detention management that
seeks to maintain a staff presence in communal areas at all times. This
approach is intended to allow for significant freedom of movement
for residents, while also making staffing more cost effective.5
Disciplinary Separation – see Separation.
Executive Office for Immigration Review or EOIR is the U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) agency that administers the immigration
court system and the appellate Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
Facility (Detention Facility) is any building or structure that
houses immigration detainees. Detention facilities currently include
federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities; state and local jails, where
immigration detainees are sometimes housed with individuals
serving sentences for criminal convictions, and which are sometimes
	 See generally, Nat’l Inst. of Corrections, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Direct Supervision Jails: 2006
Sourcebook (3d ed. 2006), available at



ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

operated by private contractors under agreements with state or
local governments; Service Processing Centers, which are owned
and operated by DHS/ICE; and Contract Detention Facilities, which
are owned and operated by private contractors under agreements
with DHS/ICE.
Family member includes biological and adopted family members,
as well as spouses (including common law spouses), domestic partners,
stepparents and stepsiblings, foster family, and in-laws.
Force means offensive or defensive physical contact with a resident,
including blows, pushes, or defensive holds, whether or not involving
batons or other instruments or weapons; discharge of chemical agents;
discharge of electronic weaponry; and application of restraints such
as handcuffs, chains, irons, straitjackets, or restraint chairs.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE is the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency with custody over
most immigration detainees. DHS’s Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) agency has short-term custody over persons who (typically) are
arrested at or near U.S. land borders.
Indigent means without funds, or with only nominal funds.
Intake is the process through which a detainee is registered either
with DHS/ICE or with a particular facility where the individual will
be housed. Intake involves recording various points of information
about the individual, including medical status, legal status,
and other information important to the administration of the
individual’s detention.
Joint Intake Center (JIC) is the entity within DHS responsible for
recording and tracking salient information about all individuals in
ICE’s custody. JIC creates and maintains current files for all detainees,
and also receives complaints about the implementation of ICE policies.
Legal personnel refers to a legal representative or an individual (other
than an interpreter) working under the direction and supervision
of an attorney, who assists with group legal presentations and in
representing individual residents. Legal personnel may interview
residents, assist them in completing forms, and deliver case-related
papers to them without the supervisory attorney being present.


Glossary of Terms

Legal representative means an attorney or person who is otherwise
legally permitted to represent another in a matter of law, including
law students; law graduates not yet admitted to the bar; “reputable
individuals”; accredited representatives; and accredited officials and
attorneys outside the United States (See 8 CFR § 292.1).
Medical evaluation means a comprehensive assessment of a
detainee’s medical and mental status, intended to capture information
about current illness, ongoing treatment regimens, and risk factors for
various forms of illness while in custody.
Normalized environment means a combination of floor plans,
fixtures, amenities, procedures and programs that allow for living
circumstances that approximate normal life outside the facility.
Such an environment should more closely resemble a secure college
dormitory than a jail.
Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS)
are the standards developed and promulgated by ICE to govern the
treatment of persons subject to ICE custody pending immigration
proceedings and removal. The PBNDS set forth the outcomes and
performance measures that must be met in order to satisfy particular
standards. They are based on American Correctional Association
standards for pre-trial criminal detention.
Resident refers to an individual who is detained in the civil
immigration detention system. It is the term that ICE and facility staff
should use to refer to persons in their custody.
Separation means to hold a resident apart from the general
population, when the resident’s continued presence would pose a
threat to other residents, staff, or the security of the facility. Separation
may also be appropriate for residents who pose a threat to themselves;
require protection; are en route to another facility; are awaiting a
hearing before a disciplinary panel; have received a separation order
from a disciplinary panel; or should be separated for medical reasons.
The standards use the term “separation,” rather than “segregation”
because the latter connotes criminal custody. Administrative
separation of a resident is undertaken in the interest of the safety,
security, and wellbeing of that resident, and not for disciplinary
reasons. Disciplinary separation is undertaken in response to


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

actions by a resident that call for response by facility staff in order to
maintain the safety and security of residents and staff.
Serious Mental Illness means a substantial disorder of thought
or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to
recognize reality or cope with the ordinary demands of life within the
detention facility environment and is manifested by substantial pain
or disability. It includes the status of being actively suicidal; severe
cognitive disorders that result in significant functional impairment;
and severe personality disorders that result in significant functional
impairment and are marked by frequent episodes of psychosis,
depression, or self-injurious behavior. (See ABA Standards on the
Treatment of Prisoners Standard 23-1.0, “Definitions.”)
Special or legal correspondence refers to a resident’s written
communications to or from the following non-exhaustive list of
individuals and entities: legal personnel; government attorneys;
judges; courts; embassies and consulates; White House officials; DHS
(including its Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, its Office of the
Inspector General, its Joint Intake Center, and ICE’s Public Advocate);
the DOJ (including EOIR and the DOJ Office of the Inspector General);
U.S. Public Health Service (including the Division of Immigration
Health Services); administrators of grievance systems; representatives
of the news media; representatives of oversight bodies, Congress or
other legislative bodies; internal affairs representatives; government
Ombudsmen; law enforcement personnel; the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); other relevant international
agencies; and human rights agencies and others that can assist in
documenting legal claims.
Staff (Facility Staff) means all full- and part-time staff whose
employment entails work at a detention facility, whether as a DHS
employee, an employee of a private corporation, or an employee of a
state or local correctional facility.
Vulnerable populations (individuals) include children and
minors under age 18; elderly persons; survivors of torture or violence;
persons with mental or physical disabilities; pregnant women; persons
with serious medical conditions and mental illness; transgender
persons; and persons likely to be subject to physical or sexual abuse,
manipulation, or severe verbal abuse in a facility.


ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards

ABA Civil Immigration
Detention Standards

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