New Problems Found In Local ICE Lockup

At times, officers couldn’t determine how many individuals were being kept in hold rooms. That’s according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Friday, which expands on problems found at ICE detention facilities, including the one run by  the GEO Group in Aurora.

In the Aurora detention center inspectors found a lack of cleanliness in food preparation, which netted the facility a deficient rating in sanitation. Then there were the inadequate logbooks, which led to confusion over holding and meal records.

Pictures: Inside ICE LockupA prominent problem the GAO found in throughout many detention facilities was the lack of reliable phone service, where as few as 35 percent of attempted calls were completed. The report also cited Aurora officials for failing to properly monitor the phone system.

According to inspectors, there was a major problem with sanitation and record keeping at the Aurora facility.

From the report (PDF):

During our visit to the Denver Contract Detention Facility, we observed that the number of detainees in the hold rooms exceeded rated capacity and that the logbook was not properly maintained for individuals housed in the hold rooms. As a result, officers on duty could not determine how many detainees were being kept in hold rooms and meals were not recorded.

At the Denver Contract Detention Facility, an adult facility, ICE reviewers cited the facility for lack of cleanliness in its food service preparation and a 4-week rotating menu instead of the required 5-week menu. The Denver Contract Detention Facility received a deficient rating in sanitation from ICE reviewers in October 2006 because the kitchen area was not properly cleaned between meals.

The GAO found that overcrowding at the lockup also added to the need for portable beds, placed in aisles between regular beds.

GEO Group, the private prison firm that has run the facility since 1987, is no stranger to controversy. The company is currently the subject of a lawsuit, where plaintiffs are alleging inadequate and inhuman medical service. In late June, GEO was awarded a 7.7 million contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate community corrections services in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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