Solitary confinement in immigration detention centers across the nation is often overused and arbitrarily applied. According to data obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center, as many as 300 immigrants, or about 1% of all detainees in the 50 largest facilities in the country, are confined to small cells on any given day, even though many pose no security risk. In many cases, they're held there for 23 hours each day without a break, often for weeks.
The use of solitary confinement is troubling enough in regular state and federal prisons, where inmates held in such conditions for prolonged periods are at risk for severe mental illness and suicide, according to medical experts. But its use in immigration facilities is even more alarming because those detainees aren't serving criminal sentences but are awaiting civil deportation hearings.