Human Rights Groups Release Report on Conditions of the Atlanta City Detention Center

Atlanta, Georgia– Project South and Georgia Detention Watch today issued a report on the conditions at the Atlanta City Detention Center pertaining to detainment of immigrants, detailing grave human rights violations. The 105-page report titled “Inside Atlanta’s Immigrant Cages” is based on a year-long documentation project which included interviewing 38 detained immigrants as well as several immigration attorneys, touring the facility, and inspecting hundreds of pages of documents obtained from the city.

The report can be found here: https://projectsouth.org /wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ InsideATL_Imm_Cages_92_DIG.pdf

Among the findings: Immigrants are routinely subjected to lock-down and solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons. Medical and mental health care at the facility are grossly lacking.  Some detained immigrants at ACDC work 8 hours a day without any compensation at all; they are promised better food but often times do not even receive that.  Almost all detained immigrants at ACDC interviewed for the report noted that officers yell at them, intimidate them, use vulgar language, and threaten them constantly with lock-downs.  Almost all noted that the quality of the food is extremely poor; that it is watery, uncooked, frozen, or inedible.

There are also reports of sexual assault at ACDC.  One man disclosed that while he was sleeping, an officer came into his cell, pulled off his blanket, and rubbed his crotch. When he awoke, the officer ran out and would not allow him to contact a supervising officer. The next day, when the detained man began to file a complaint, officers put him on lock-down so that he could not share this information with anyone.

Due to the mistreatment, immigrants detained at the facility have gone on labor strike twice in the last few months alone.  Detained immigrants also report going on hunger strike because they believe that they cannot do anything else to bring attention to their suffering.  An entire unit went on hunger strike after making 12 complaints to get hot water in the showers during the cold winter months.  Another unit went on hunger strike after they were wrongfully punished for something that they did not do.

“The accounts we heard as documented in this report are utterly heartbreaking and horrific to consider that they’re happening in our own backyard,” said Priyanka Bhatt, attorney and Legal Fellow with Project South and lead author of the report. “Atlanta cannot call itself a welcoming city when it is profiting off the immigrants’ pain and suffering.”

“We are told to believe that walls and borders make us safe, that locking up immigrants in detention will protect us.  But, after two years of meeting with the men and women caged for ICE in the Atlanta City Detention Center, I am convinced that these institutions do not help us build a better world. On the contrary, they are keeping us from it,” said Kevin Caron, Steering Committee member of Georgia Detention Watch and a co-author of the report.

The report comes at a momentous time as the Mayor is expected to make her decision on continued detention of immigrants at the facility in the next few weeks.

“Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took a step in the right direction by temporarily halting the intake of new immigrants for ICE at ACDC,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal & Advocacy Director with Project South. “It is time for Atlanta to stop colluding with ICE permanently and end its agreements to detain immigrants.”

The report can be found here: https://projectsouth.org /wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ InsideATL_Imm_Cages_92_DIG.pdf

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