CONTACT: Executive Director Alessandra Soler at 602-650-1854 or 602-301-3705

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today joined the Detention Watch Network and about 20 other local and national immigrants’ rights and civil rights organizations in calling on President Obama to end the federal government’s contracts with 10 of the worst immigration detention facilities in the country. The list of 10 includes the Pinal County Jail in Florence.

“The conditions in immigration detention centers are so bad, the only option is to begin shutting them down,” said ACLU of Arizona of Arizona Program Director Victoria Lopez, who has been documenting inhumane conditions at Pinal County Jail since 2009. “There is no justification for subjecting people in custody to punitive treatment, and in some cases for an unspecified period of time, just to ensure they appear for immigration court hearings.”

As part of the national “Expose and Close” campaign, community leaders and advocates today released a report (click here for copy) detailing a widespread pattern of abuses in facilities across the nation. In 2011, the federal government detained an estimated 429,000 immigrants nationwide at a cost of approximately $1.7 billion.

It has been more than three years since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to reform the immigration detention system, including discontinuing the use of jail-like facilities such as Pinal County Jail to detain immigrants. Yet, the ACLU of Arizona continues to receive reports from people detained at the Pinal County facility about inhumane conditions.

Some of the problems include no access to outdoor areas, no contact visits with family members, poor sanitation and inadequate medical care. A report issued by the ACLU of Arizona in 2011, In Their Own Words (click here for copy of report), offers first-hand accounts of individuals detained in Arizona immigration detention centers including the Pinal County Jail.

In addition to PCJ, nine other detention centers are highlighted in the DWN report: Etowah County Detention Center (AL), Houston Processing Center (TX), Polk County Jail (TX), Stewart Detention Center (GA), Irwin County Jail (GA), Hudson County Jail (NJ), Theo Lacy Jail (CA), Tri-County Jail (IL), and Baker County Jail (FL).