Restoring Respect for Detainees Who Die in Captivity

August 1, 2011 2:07 pm

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ACLU Supports House Judiciary Committee’s Action

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WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill today requiring state and federal authorities to promptly report all deaths of individuals in law enforcement custody to the U.S. Attorney General.

“All too often, family and friends of immigration detainees find out about the tragic deaths of their loved ones by word-of-mouth or through news reports instead of by prompt and direct communication. This is an important step toward restoring respect detainees and families deserve,” said Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.

The House Judiciary Committee’s action penalizes states for failing to report deaths of detainees, including immigrants, in law enforcement custody.

Under the Death In Custody Reporting Act, state facilities that receive funding from the federal government will lose 10 percent of their allotment if they fail to provide details of detainee deaths in a timely fashion, and federal law enforcement agencies are also required to submit such reports of detainee deaths. Within two years of the bill’s enactment, the Attorney General will produce a study synthesizing the individual reports in order to reduce the number of deaths and to “examine the relationship, if any, between the number of such deaths and the actions of management” who operate detention facilities. The ACLU urges the full House and Senate to follow suit and also pass the bill, which was introduced by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA).

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