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Immigration Detention: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2013
93 pages
This U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reviewed the efforts of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address sexual abuse and assault in immigration detention facilities.
The review found that DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has strengthened sexual abuse and assault prevention and intervention (SAAPI) at its detention facilities. DHS has focused its sexual abuse and assault oversight on 157 of approximately 250 facilities that housed about 90 percent of detainees. Most facilities were compliant with SAAPI provisions expected by inspection protocols; however, during 27 percent of inspections performed for fiscal years 2010 through 2013, inspectors did not assess whether facilities met the provision to have sexual abuse statistics and reports readily available for review. A process should be developed that would ensure the consistency and completeness in how SAAPI inspections are performed, using Federal internal control standards. In addition, complete and accurate information on sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention facilities is lacking, which impedes the assessment of SAAPI efforts. ICE should develop and implement additional internal controls for ensuring the reporting of sexual abuse and assault by field offices. GAO reviewed documentation for 215 sexual abuse and assault allegations reported to ICE headquarters from October 2009 through March 2013; analyzed detention standards and inspection reports; and visited 10 detention facilities selected based on detainee population. Appendixes contain a summary of substantiated sexual abuse and assault allegations for October 2009 through March 2013; the process for reporting and investigating sexual abuse and assault allegations; and provisions for sexual abuse and assault prevention and intervention included in immigration detention standards. 14 tables and 3 figures