Friday, May 18, 2018

Incarcerating Immigrants, Splitting Families at Borders is Cruel, Un-American, Raises Many Questions Morally and Legally, by Rita Lucey ARCWP, Letters to the Editor Published May 16, 2018, Daytona News Journal


Originally prisons were meant to be places for rehabilitation, for learning  new skills, a place to be penitent (penitentiary) for 'crimes'.

But then in the 1980's along came mandatory minimums for a specific group of defendants: nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, with no ties to gangs or cartels, no involvement in trafficking  minors, and no significant criminal history. The private prison industry saw their chance to capitalize on these new laws. Corporations watched briefly as the discretion of judges in sentencing became a thing of the past and more low level drug offenders were sentenced to increasingly long sentences. Incarceration rates soared.  The for profit private prison industry saw even more opportunity with the passage of the 2007 "detention bed mandate"
A quota of 34,000 is written into Federal law that requires ICE,  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to incarcerate immigrants not because they are dangerous, but because ICE must meet this arbitrary quota set by Congress.  This is of course a huge business for which we, the taxpayers, incur debt of over $2 billion a year according to an article in The Nation magazine.
How can forcing an agency (ICE) to detain 34,000  as people be justified.  Is it really constitutional and legal?  Isn't there a  moral obligation to avoid incarcerating for the sake of numbers?
This new policy of splitting families at the border, as announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions,is certainly not in the best interest of children, traumatized already by the violence in their native countries, and the long journey to "freedom"  Imagine the pain of the mothers and fathers as their beloveds are let away, crying out for he only safety they have known.  Whee in history did we see this play out before?

Where will they find legal representation? The backlog in our court system and lack of lawyers available pro bono to protect  the Human Rights of these refugees as they linger in jails and private prisons lacking knowledge of their rights is an abuse of power within our justice system.  And who will pay for the care of these traumatized children?  Will we incarcerate them, and count them among the 34,000 bed mandate?
This grievous, cruel response to a people in distress, a people seeking refuge  from violence, is not who we are as a nation.

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