An ICE detention facility in California has been housing inmates in horrific conditions


A government report has accused an Orange County, CA, prison of housing its inmates—many of whom are undocumented immigrants—in horrific conditions.

According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, the Theo Lacy facility—a maximum security prison which can hold nearly 3,500 inmates—had been found serving residents “slimy, foul-smelling lunch meat” that appeared to be spoiled, as well as subjecting them to showers full of “trash, mildew, and mold.” The report goes on to note that, per the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the prison:

Detainees are required to clean their showers daily; however, detainees are only given a scrub brush and an all-purpose cleaner, which does not combat mold and mildew. Additionally, requiring detainees to clean common areas used by all detainees is in violation of ICE standards, as detainees are only required to clean their immediate living area.

The DHS-OIG report follows a surprise visit to the prison this past November, the Los Angeles Times reported. Titled “Management Alert on Issues Requiring Immediate Action at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, California,” it also describes conditions in which high and low-risk detainees and prisoners are oftentimes housed together, and solitary confinement imprisonment was found to violate Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency standards.

Grievances by prisoners are poorly tracked, if at all, the report also found. And the fact that the prison is run by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, but houses ICE detainees, adds an added barrier to the process, as “grievances are maintained in a database owned by a private contractor, and the ICE Grievance Officer said ICE does not have access to this database.”

As of this past Wednesday, the Times noted, 528 inmates at Theo Lacy were ICE detainees. The prison has cooperated with ICE to house undocumented immigrants—some arrested for crimes, others simply detained over their immigration status—since 2010.

In response to the report, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lt. Lane Lagaret told ABC7 that the problems identified “have been addressed.”

“We will continue to ensure that the health and safety of the detainees are our utmost priority,” Lagaret continued.

Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs president Tom Dominguez also addressed the report, telling the Orange County Register, “we are pleased that the Inspector General’s findings were not of a more serious nature.”

This past August, over two dozen immigration detainees at the Theo Lacy launched a brief hunger strike to protest conditions at the facility.

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