[JURIST] The total number of aliens detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] annually for immigration violations jumped from approximately 95,000 to 283,000 between 2001 and 2006, according to a report [PDF text] by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) [official website]. The GAO said the rising number of detainees has led to significant overcrowding in 4 of 23 detention facilities surveyed. The study, which focused on ICE's compliance with guidelines that govern the conditions relating to telephone access, medical care, access to legal material, and others, found systematic shortcomings in the detainees' ability to place telephone calls to lawyers or their consulates at 16 detention facilities, all of which contracted with a private vendor to provide the telephone systems. The report said that ICE responded that it was unaware of the failings prior to the GAO study, leading the GAO to criticize the ICE's lack of internal controls.
In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a class action lawsuit [petition, PDF; JURIST report] against ICE and other federal immigration officials, alleging inadequate medical and mental health care at US detention facilities have caused "unnecessary suffering [and] avoidable death." ICE's national detention guidelines were developed in consultation with the American Bar Association [organization website], the US Department of Justice [official website], and other rights organizations involved in providing pro bono legal services. The Washington Post has more.