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Of Mice and Men: On the Seclusion of Immigration Detainees and Hospital Patients

By Stacey A. Tovino. Full text here.

In its broadest sense, this Article challenges the lack of legally enforceable rights available to individuals in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. More specifically, this Article examines ICE’s widespread practice of secluding immigration detainees for lengthy periods of time for purported administrative, disciplinary, or protective reasons. Although seclusion has a profoundly negative impact on detainee health and the United Nations Special Rapporteur has stated that seclusion can constitute torture in certain circumstances, approximately 300 detainees are secluded every day in the United States’ fifty largest immigration detention centers. Nearly half of these detainees are secluded for fifteen days or more at a time. Thus far, proposals for immigration detention reform have relied heavily on constitutional law and international human rights theories. This Article takes a novel approach by using hospital patients’ rights law as a lens through which the uses and abuses of seclusion in immigration detention centers might be assessed and through which the standards governing detention centers might be improved.