A recent U.S. government directive on the use of solitary confinement falls short of protecting the most vulnerable among the country’s detained population.
New research from the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at The John Marshall Law School details deficiencies in current U.S. detention practices, as well as recommends measures to ensure immigrant detainees are protected and treated humanely.
The report, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New Directive on Segregation: Why We Need Further Protections,” details the use of solitary confinement of immigrant detainees, noting that some detention facilities have been found to have the worst record on solitary.
In September 2013, ICE issued a new directive establishing a policy and procedures for reviewing detainees placed into segregation, the report states. The new standard remains weak in protecting detainees, the report notes, and based on past practices, it is unlikely it will be implemented at detention centers uniformly or quickly.
The directive calls for greater attention to the needs of detainees with known mental or serious medical illnesses, for example. But it does not go far enough to ensure that facilities proactively assess detainees for special vulnerabilities prior to segregation, and “allows for willful blindness on the part of the facility,” the report states.
The IHRC report recommends several measures to help ensure immigrant detainees are protected and treated humanely, including:
- Monitoring provisions that have been recently adopted by the new ICE directive should be strictly enforced.
- An independent committee composed of civil society must be provided with the power of monitoring of ICE’s new segregation directive 11065.1.
- Solitary confinement (segregation) should be used as a last resort when there are no alternatives.
“As a human rights clinic, we seek to advocate for the humane and dignified treatment of all people, regardless of their immigration status,” Professor Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak, co-director of the IHRC.
The International Human Rights Clinic is one of the newest clinical learning experiences offered at The John Marshall Law School. The clinic offers law students a background in human rights advocacy through the practical experience of working on international human rights cases and projects.
“This report is the result of countless hours of research by our students and clinic staff, and demonstrates the kind of advocacy that John Marshall champions,” said Anthony Niedwiecki, associate dean for Skills, Experiential Learning, and Assessment. “John Marshall is creating more and varied clinical options for students, and the International Human Rights Clinic is a wonderful new addition.”
At John Marshall, all incoming John Marshall students are required to participate in an experiential learning experience. Over their three years, students earn 18 credit hours of such hands-on experience, through various courses and a three-credit mandated clinic or externship. John Marshall is one of few schools across the country that requires students to complete experiential learning hours in order to graduate.
About the International Human Rights Clinic
John Marshall’s new International Human Rights Clinic advocates for human rights in international and domestic tribunals and other forums. The clinic also provides resources and research on human rights and engages in public education and outreach.
The clinic offers law students a background in human rights advocacy through the practical experience of working on international human rights cases and projects. In its accompanying seminar, students learn human rights law and study the variety of human rights advocacy techniques and skills.