Superior Court to End Contract with ICE

ice

"We are proud of the quality of care provided by our staff to these youth in our care. We made this decision solely for the reasons stated in this release. We will be releasing the detainees into ICE custody for their determination of further placement."

by Gary Bashor, Presiding Judge

 In 2001, Cowlitz County Commissioners contracted with the US Department of Justice, now US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to house youth detained subject to immigration proceedings.

The Superior Court Judges have never urged the Commissioners to end the contract, as the contract complies with state and federal law and our staff provide excellent services to the minor detainees.

Based upon a recent opinion from our legal counsel, the Commission and the Superior Court Judges agree the Superior Court Judges, not the Commission, have the authority to contract with ICE. The Judges continued to honor the DOJ/ICE contract while we re-examined whether or not the housing contract should continue.

It is important to note:

  • Every one of these detainees are classified "List 1", meaning they are, juvenile classified criminal, chargeable as a criminal, and/or subject to extant criminal proceedings, escape risks, adjudicated delinquents, juveniles who have committed a violent and/or threatening act toward self or another, and juveniles who engaged in disruptive behavior while in a licensed shelter program, which affects their immigration status under Federal law.
  • Federal Immigration Judges have approved these detentions. Detainees have access to legal counsel while in the Cowlitz facility.
  • Cowlitz County Superior Court has no jurisdiction to determine the detention or release of these detainees and we have no say where ICE will detain the minors once they leave our facility.
  • Detainees live in the same housing, and receive the same medical, mental health, nutrition, and educational services, as do all other minors held in our detention facility.
  • We have investigated the allegations that detainees held in our facility have not received appropriate medical attention. We have determined the allegations are not true.
  • The length of time detainees are in our facility has increased significantly since the County originally entered the housing contract.
The contract requirements have served to improve the quality of some of our programs, as federal standards of detention exceed those of Washington State. Additional staff training, and higher detention standards, benefits our own youth in detention; a direct benefit of the contract.

Due to the increased lengths of stay not suited for our short-term facility, and because it's clear the legislature intended to end contracts of this nature within our state, Cowlitz County Superior Court has notified ICE of our intention to terminate the contract effective in approximately 60 days.

For Additional Information Contact:

Chadwick M. Connors - Superior Court Administrator  - 360-577-3085 or connorsc@co.cowlitz.wa.us

Superior Court Closed Monday, January 18

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