ACLU of Florida, other groups want end to housing of ICE detainees in Baker County jail

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other groups are calling for the end to an agreement that allows the Baker County Sheriff's Office to house ICE detainees at its detention facility. The complaint says this is because of physical abuse and poor medical care at the facility.

MACCLENNY, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other groups are calling for the end to an agreement that allows the Baker County Sheriff’s Office to house ICE detainees at its detention facility.

A scathing 22-page complaint directly addressed to the Office of the Inspector General says this is because of physical abuse and poor medical care going on inside the facility.

READ: Complaint filed by ACLU against Baker County detention facility

The complaint says the Baker County facility has held detained immigrants since 2009. It goes on to say not only is there mounting evidence that the Sheriff’s Office cannot safely care for detainees, but also that they’re also keeping them in poor conditions. It goes on to outline individual detainees’ stories, including one detainee who:

“...was beaten so severely he suffered lasting ear damage. The incident was never investigated by ICE or BCSO, and he spent four months in solitary confinement with no explanation.”

Another said a female detainee:

“...bled for nine months straight while detained at Baker due to a preexisting medical condition and slept in blood-soaked sheets for several days since staff refused to provide clean bedding....”

The complaint calls for an end to the agreement and for all the people being held in those conditions to be released.

In August, the News4JAX I-TEAM was given exclusive access to the federal wing of the jail where immigrant detainees are held and I-TEAM investigator Tarik Minor sat down with Baker County Sheriff Scotty Rhoden one-on-one.

PHOTOS: I-TEAM given exclusive access to federal wing of Baker County Detention Center

Rhoden denied allegations that the detainees are mistreated.

“What I’m not going to do is allow people to come in here and lie about our facility, the job that our people do here — because we take pride in our job,” Rhoden said. “I’m not going to stand by and remain silent and not vigorously defend what we do here at the Sheriff’s Office because our people do a great job here on a day-to-day basis, and I’m going to stand behind that what we do here is right.”

RELATED: Civil rights groups file complaint alleging ‘inhumane conditions’ at federal wing of Baker County jail | I-TEAM obtains inspection report for Baker detention facility where detainees allege ‘inhumane conditions’

The end of the complaint demands, at minimum, a comprehensive investigation of the alleged abuses, including interviews and a review of medical records and interviews, be conducted.


About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.