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Jayapal Statement on Death of Detainee at the Northwest Detention Center

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ranking Member of the Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding the death of Charles Leo Daniel at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigration detention facility in Washington State operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

“First and foremost, my heart goes out to Mr. Daniel’s family and loved ones. His death is an unacceptable tragedy and there must be accountability and a full investigation to understand exactly what happened at the Northwest Detention Center.

“My office has been tracking this closely and reached out to ICE, who confirmed he had been in solitary confinement for 1,418 days. This is especially concerning, as the United Nations (UN) regards prolonged solitary confinement, or confinement of more than 15 consecutive days, as a form of torture. 

“Detained immigrants deserve to retain their dignity and basic rights. ICE must cease the overuse of solitary confinement in detention. I will continue to monitor this situation and will continue to fight to protect immigrants’ rights and ensure that no detained person is forced to live in inhumane conditions.

“Finally, ICE must reduce its overreliance on detention. The vast majority of detained people are there pending court proceedings. Nearly 67 percent of people detained in ICE custody have no criminal record and many more only have minor offenses such as traffic violations. There are workable solutions, such as humane community-based alternatives to detention, that have proven to be successful in producing compliance with court proceedings at a fraction of the cost of detention.”

In 2018, another detained person at the facility died by suicide and detained people have consistently been forced to resort to hunger strikes to protest conditions at the facility, including allegations of medical neglect, unsafe food, and unsanitary conditions among other complaints.

Jayapal plans to send a letter calling for answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the misuse of solitary confinement in immigration detention facilities. She also leads the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would work to reduce our overreliance on detention, end the use of detention for profit, end inhumane conditions at detention centers, and protect the civil and human rights of immigrants.