U.S. government officials are in the process of making immigration detention facilities more humane and less prison-like in recognition that most detainees are charged with breaking civil law not criminal. The changes will effect 300 facilities spread out throughout the U.S. that operate a 30,000 bed detainee program. The detainee’s typically are held for several days before being deported. The individuals that stay longer are those seeking asylum and must remain detained until a determination of their immigration status is made.
The changes to immigration detention facilities will include removing high security elements, provide more freedoms and allow detainees more contact with family members. The upgrading will begin with the three facilities that are located in Texas. Many of the facilities are leased by the U.S government from state and local governments, which are also included in the upgrade project. Even if a facility is not upgraded immediately there will be more freedoms granted to the detainees.
There will be fewer pat downs, permission to wear street clothes, more legal resources and longer family visits. These changes do not come without opposition especially from detention guards that fear the new freedoms could diminish their safety. In 2009 a review was conducted that found most immigration detainees had no criminal record even for minor offenses.