Newsletter  |  Winter 2013
Vol. 17, Issue No. 1


AI Justice Supervising Attorney Romy Lerner was elected Steering Committee Co-Chair of Detention Watch Network (DWN), a national organization that works to reform the U.S. detention and deportation system so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment. Ms. Lerner, a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and former Fulbright fellow, joins representatives from other member organizations across the country to provide leadership on all aspects of DWN’s national work.

On November 15th, as part of a nationwide campaign launch coordinated by DWN, advocates released a report, “Expose and Close,” designating Florida’s Baker County Jail as one of the ten worst in the country and detailing the widespread pattern of abuse there.  According to Ms. Lerner, “ICE detainees continue to suffer from sexual assaults; substandard medical care; misuse of isolation; excessive use of force; abysmal conditions; and the lack of due process, legal counsel and meaningful oversight. Baker County Jail, and facilities like it, must be immediately closed.”

This report is part of a series of reports and a coordinated effort to highlight ten detention centers across the nation that sheds light on the appalling conditions immigrants in detention face, including Etowah County Detention Center (AL), Pinal County Jail (AZ), Houston Processing Center (TX), Polk County Detention Facility (TX), Stewart Detention Center (GA), Irwin County Jail (GA), Hudson County Jail (NJ), Theo Lacy Detention Center (CA), Tri-County Detention Center (IL), and Baker County Jail (FL).

Following the release of the report, Ms. Lerner and other DWN representatives met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Washington, D.C.   At that meeting, ICE officials agreed to investigate the complaints and will be visiting Florida to meet with Ms. Lerner and other local groups regarding conditions at the Baker County facility.