A Geographic Analysis of Immigrant Detention In the U.S.A.: The Distribution and Environmental Contexts of Detention Centers
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Immigrant detention centers can be found throughout the United States. Foreigners, or other legal or undocumented immigrants, may be held at these places for periods ranging from several days to several months or even years. Physical and mental abuse, lack of medical treatment, and death of detainees are common in some of these facilities.
The goal of this project is to understand the implications of the locations of immigrant detention centers and whether this spatial distribution of centers and the environmental contexts in which they are found affect the patterns of violence, neglect, and injustice that occurs towards detainees in these centers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities in 24 states and listed on the ICE website (ICE 2011g) are included in this work. This set includes 63 detention centers in the following states—Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin (see complete list in Appendix). The characteristics of each facility have been compiled and several sets of descriptive data were collected, including the average number of people incarcerated each year, the average and extreme periods of incarceration, facility size, the degree of isolation or distance from nearest major urban centers, and climate data for each location. Facilities with fatalities among detainees and with higher numbers of complaints made on behalf of those held were identified. Basic statistical analyses of these variables are presented.