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United States Government Accountability Office

Report to Congressional Requesters

November 2013

IMMIGRATION
DETENTION
Additional Actions
Could Strengthen DHS
Efforts to Address
Sexual Abuse

This report was revised on December 6, 2013, to correct a date on the
Highlights page and text regarding substantiated allegations on page 61.

GAO-14-38

November 2013

IMMIGRATION DETENTION
Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to
Address Sexual Abuse
Highlights of GAO-14-38, a report to
congressional requesters

Why GAO Did This Study

What GAO Found

In 2003 Congress passed the Prison
Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to protect
individuals against sexual abuse and
assault in confinement settings,
including persons potentially subject to
removal from the United States housed
in DHS’s detention facilities. GAO was
asked to review DHS efforts to address
issues of sexual abuse and assault in
immigration detention facilities. This
report examines (1) what DHS data
show about sexual abuse and assault
in immigration detention facilities, and
how these data are used for detention
management; (2) the extent to which
DHS has included provisions for
addressing sexual abuse and assault
in its detention standards; and (3) the
extent to which DHS has assessed
compliance with these provisions and
the results.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) sexual abuse and assault allegations data are not complete, a
fact that could limit their usefulness for detention management. ICE’s data
system described 215 allegations of sexual abuse and assault from October
2009 through March 2013 in facilities that had over 1.2 million admissions;
however, ICE data did not include all reported allegations. For example, GAO
was unable to locate an additional 28 allegations detainees reported to the 10
facilities GAO visited—or 40 percent of 70 total allegations at these 10 facilities—
because ICE field office officials did not report them to ICE headquarters. ICE
issued guidance on reporting sexual abuse and assault allegations, but has not
developed controls to ensure that field office officials responsible for overseeing
all facilities are reporting allegations to ICE headquarters. Detainees may also
face barriers to reporting abuse, such as difficulty reaching the DHS Office of
Inspector General (OIG) telephone hotline, one of various means for reporting
abuse. For example, GAO’s review of data maintained by ICE’s phone services
contractor for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 showed that approximately 14
percent of calls placed to the hotline from about 210 facilities did not go through
because, for example, the call was not answered. OIG officials were not aware
that the OIG could monitor hotline connectivity through these data. Developing
additional controls to better ensure reporting of allegations and coordinating with
the OIG to better ensure OIG access to hotline connectivity data in accordance
with federal internal control standards could better position ICE to assess its
sexual abuse and assault prevention and intervention (SAAPI) efforts.

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, among other
things. The visit results cannot be
generalized, but provided insight.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that DHS (1)
develop additional controls to ensure
all allegations are reported to
headquarters, (2) coordinate OIG
access to hotline connectivity data, (3)
document and maintain reliable
information on detention standards,
and (4) develop a process for
performing oversight of SAAPI
provisions consistently across facilities.
DHS concurred and reported actions to
address the recommendations.
View GAO-14-38. For more information,
contact Rebecca Gambler at (202) 512-8777
or gamblerr@gao.gov.

DHS included various SAAPI provisions in three of four sets of detention
standards it uses at detention facilities, but does not have reliable and consistent
information to determine which provisions apply to which individual facilities. For
example, GAO’s review of a nonprobability sample of 20 facility contracts and
agreements showed inconsistencies in ICE’s data on which detention standards
should be in place for almost half of the facilities. Documenting and maintaining
reliable information about which detention standards apply to which facilities in
accordance with federal internal control standards could better ensure that ICE
officials, facility administrators, and other stakeholders have a reliable and
consistent understanding of facility requirements and position ICE to plan for
SAAPI program operations.
DHS focused its sexual abuse and assault oversight on 157 of approximately 250
facilities that housed about 90 percent of detainees and found most facilities
compliant with SAAPI provisions from fiscal years 2010 through 2013. ICE used
various oversight mechanisms, such as inspections, onsite supervision, and
facility self-assessments, and identified SAAPI-related deficiencies. However,
facility inspection reports did not consistently assess all SAAPI provisions
expected by inspection protocols. For example, during 27 percent of inspections
performed during this time period inspectors did not assess whether facilities met
the provision to have sexual abuse statistics and reports readily available for
review. Developing a process for ensuring consistency across and completeness
in how SAAPI inspections are performed in accordance with federal internal
control standards could help ensure that ICE management has complete
information about SAAPI compliance across all detention facilities.
United States Government Accountability Office

Contents

Letter

1
Background
ICE Sexual Abuse and Assault Allegations Data Are Not Complete,
Which Could Limit Their Usefulness for Detention Management
Sexual Abuse and Assault Provisions in Detention Standards Vary
in Content and Applicability across Facilities
DHS Focused Its Sexual Abuse and Assault Oversight on Facilities
Housing Most Detainees and Found Most Facilities Compliant
with Provisions
Conclusions
Recommendations for Executive Action
Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

7
14
27
36
47
48
48

Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

53

Appendix II

Summary of Substantiated Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations, October 2009 through March 2013

60

Process for Reporting and Investigating Sexual Abuse and
Assault Allegations

63

Provisions for Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and
Intervention Included in Immigration Detention Standards

66

NPREC Recommendations Compared with DHS Detention
Standards and PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

69

DHS PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Compared with
DOJ PREA Rule

76

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Appendix V

Appendix VI

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Appendix VII

Enforcement and Removal Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual
Abuse and Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists

77

Appendix VIII

Comments from the Department of Homeland Security

81

Appendix IX

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments

86

Tables
Table 1: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Facility Types and Characteristics
Table 2: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Standards
Table 3: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sexual Abuse
and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Roles
and Responsibilities in Detention Facilities
Table 4: Characteristics of the 215 Closed Sexual Abuse and
Assault Allegations at Immigration Detention Facilities
Included in the Joint Integrity Case Management System,
October 2009-March 2013, by Percentage
Table 5: Results of Closed Investigations into Sexual Abuse and
Assault Allegations Included in the Joint Integrity Case
Management System, October 2009-March 2013
Table 6: GAO Analysis of Reasons Why 119 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Allegations Reported in the Joint Integrity Case
Management System Were Determined to Be
Unsubstantiated, October 2009-March 2013
Table 7: Examples of Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and
Intervention (SAAPI) Provisions in U.S Immigration
Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Detention Standards for
Adult Facilities
Table 8: Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention
(SAAPI) Provisions Applicable to Immigration Detention
Facilities, as of August 2013
Table 9: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Inspection
Results of the 2008 Performance-Based National Detention
Standards Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and

Page ii

10
12
13

16
17

18

28
30

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Intervention (SAAPI) Provisions, Fiscal Years 2010
through 2013
Table 10: Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Abuse and Assault in
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Facilities, October 2009 through March 2013
Table 11: Provisions for Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and
Intervention (SAAPI) in U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) Detention Standards
Table 12: National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC)
Recommended Standards for Immigration Detention
Facilities Compared with Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) 2011 Performance-Based National
Detention Standards (PBNDS) and DHS Prison Rape
Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (NPRM)
Table 13: Selected Differences between Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
for Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003
(PREA) Rule and Department of Justice (DOJ) Final PREA
Rule
Table 14: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) 2008 and
2011 Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and
Intervention (SAAPI) Inspection Checklists

39
60
66

70

76

77

Figures
Figure 1: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Facility Locations, as of August 2013
Figure 2: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Oversight Mechanisms That Included Sexual Abuse and
Assault Oversight by Detention Facilities and Average
Daily Detainee Population, Fiscal Year 2012
Figure 3: Process for Reporting and Investigating Sexual Abuse
Allegations in Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) Detention Facilities

Page iii

11

38
64

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Abbreviations
DHS
DOJ
DSM
ERO
HIV
ICE
JICMS
NDS
NPREC
OAQ
ODO
ODPP
OIG
OPR
PBNDS
PREA
SAAPI
SAFE
SANE
USAO
USMS

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Justice
detention service manager
Enforcement and Removal Operations
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Joint Integrity Case Management System
National Detention Standards
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission
Office of Acquisition Management
Office of Detention Oversight
Office of Detention Policy and Planning
Office of Inspector General
Office of Professional Responsibility
Performance-Based National Detention Standards
Prison Rape Elimination Act
sexual abuse and assault prevention and intervention
sexual assault forensic examiner
sexual assault nurse examiner
U.S. Attorney’s Office
U.S. Marshals Service

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548

November 20, 2013
Congressional Requesters
Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) to
protect individuals against sexual abuse and assault in confinement
settings, including persons confined in U.S. immigration detention
facilities. 1 From fiscal years 2010 through 2012, the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) admitted persons potentially subject to removal
from the United States for violations of immigration law into its
approximately 250 immigration detention facilities, which had more than
1.2 million admissions. The National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission, which PREA established to study the impacts of prison rape
in the United States, reported that persons in immigration detention
facilities are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and its effects because
of social, cultural, and language isolation; poor understanding of U.S.
culture and the subculture of U.S. prisons; and the often traumatic
experiences they have endured in their cultures of origin. Furthermore,
the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission reported that
immigration detainees may be especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and
assault by staff because detainees are confined by the same agency that
has the power to deport them, and fearing the possibility of retaliatory
deportation, tend to be less likely than other prisoners to challenge the
conditions of their confinement. 2

1
Pub. L. No. 108-79, 117 Stat. 972 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 15601-15609). PREA
requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics within the Department of Justice to collect and
disseminate information on the incidence of prison rape. 42 U.S.C. § 15603. As part of its
PREA-related responsibilities, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in May 2013 that
during 2011 and 2012, an estimated 4 percent of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2
percent of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization
within the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if detention had been less than
12 months. The Bureau of Justice Statistics also collected allegations of sexual abuse
reported by detainees in 5 immigration detention facilities that collectively housed about
13 percent of the immigration detention population during fiscal years 2011 and 2012 and
found that the percentage of detainees reporting having experienced sexual abuse across
the facilities ranged from 0.8 to 3.8 percent; however, these data for detainees are not
generalizable to all ICE detention facilities. See Department of Justice, Office of Justice
Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported
by Inmates, 2011-12, NCJ 241399 (Washington, D.C.: May 2013).

2

See National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission Report, June 2009.

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

DHS’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible
for overseeing the nation’s largest civil detention system. Within ICE, the
Office of Acquisition Management (OAQ) negotiates contracts and
agreements with facilities to house detainees that incorporate various
immigration detention standards for conditions of confinement. The Office
of Detention Policy and Planning (ODPP) is responsible for detention
system design and evaluation, and the Enforcement and Removal
Operations (ERO) oversees the confinement of ICE detainees across
facilities in accordance with immigration detention standards. In addition,
the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) tracks and investigates
sexual abuse and assault allegations in immigration detention facilities.
You asked us to review DHS’s efforts to address issues of sexual abuse
and assault in immigration detention facilities. This report addresses the
following questions: (1) What do DHS data show about sexual abuse and
assault in immigration detention facilities, and how are these data used
for detention management? (2) To what extent has DHS included
provisions for addressing sexual abuse and assault in its immigration
detention standards? (3) To what extent has DHS assessed facility
administrator compliance with these provisions and what were the results
of DHS’s assessments?
To address these questions, we assessed DHS’s efforts to address
sexual abuse and assault in immigration detention facilities that house
ICE detainees. 3 In particular, we visited a nonprobability sample of 10
detention facilities in California, Florida, Texas, and Washington. We
selected these facilities based on a mix of factors, such as differences in
geographical location, detainee population, facility type, detention
standards governing the facility, length of time the facility may hold
detainees, and recommendations made by DHS and organizations that

3

DHS defines an immigration detention facility as a confinement facility operated by or
affiliated with ICE that routinely holds persons for over 24 hours pending resolution or
completion of immigration removal operations or processes. We did not include other
types of facilities, such as holding facilities and prisons that temporarily house detainees
waiting for ICE transfer to detention facilities. We also excluded the three federal prisons
where ICE has detention bed space because two of these facilities house few detainees
and the use of the third prison for detention was to be discontinued by the end of calendar
year 2013, according to Bureau of Prisons and ICE officials. We also did not include
facilities for juveniles that are regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

work with immigration detainees. 4 We collected and reviewed
investigative files for all 70 sexual abuse and assault allegations occurring
from fiscal years 2010 through 2012 maintained at the 10 facilities we
visited and assessed their completeness against ICE requirements and
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. 5 We
interviewed ERO field office officials, facility personnel, and detainees
regarding sexual abuse and assault prevention and intervention (SAAPI)
policies and procedures in place at the facilities we visited. 6 In advance of
each visit, we interviewed representatives from at least one local
immigrant advocacy organization about their views on SAAPI efforts at
the facilities. 7 The information we obtained from our facility visits cannot
be generalized to all facilities, guards, detainees, or advocacy
organizations, but offers insight into the overall range of implementation
of SAAPI policies across detention facilities.
To determine what DHS data show about sexual abuse and assault in
detention facilities and how they are used for detention management, we
reviewed closing reports summarizing the allegation and investigative
steps and outcomes for all 215 sexual abuse and assault allegations
reported to ICE from October 2009 through March 2013 and tracked in

4

We did not use the number of sexual abuse allegations at a facility as part of our
selection criteria because a higher number of allegations could represent either (1) an
increased risk of abuse to detainees or (2) increased reporting at a facility.
5
GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 1, 1999). Of these files, we selected investigative files for a
nonprobability sample of 15 allegations for more in-depth analysis, to include allegations
from each facility and allegations against staff members and allegations against
detainees. The results of our more in-depth analysis are not generalizable to all
investigative files, but provided helpful insights into investigative file completeness.
6
In particular, we interviewed a nonprobability sample of 18 guards at 9 facilities, which we
selected to include 1 male and 1 female at each facility. Guards at 1 facility elected not to
speak with us at the recommendation of their union, which was concerned that information
guards shared with us could be used by facility management to negatively assess guard
performance. In addition, we interviewed a nonprobability sample of 53 detainees at 9
facilities. The 10th facility did not have any detainees in its custody during our visit. We
selected detainees based on gender, age, country of origin, and number of days in ICE
custody.
7
We identified these local organizations through recommendations provided by two
national advocacy organizations—the American Civil Liberties Union and the National
Immigrant Justice Center. In instances where the national organizations suggested that
we speak with more than one local organization, we invited representatives from all of the
local organizations to meet with us.

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

OPR’s Joint Integrity Case Management System (JICMS)—the primary
system ICE uses to track sexual abuse and assault allegations. 8 We also
met with agency officials from ICE offices and other DHS components
responsible for collecting and using data on sexual abuse and assault in
detention facilities including the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG),
which investigates misconduct involving DHS and contractor employees
and operates a hotline through which detainees can report complaints
regarding misconduct in detention facilities, including sexual abuse and
assault, and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is
responsible for identifying policy gaps that can contribute to sexual abuse.
To assess the reliability of the JICMS data, we compared the allegations
contained in JICMS, which according to ICE is to include all reported
sexual abuse and assault allegations, with other information sources
including allegations documented by the 10 facilities we visited. Further,
we interviewed knowledgeable OPR officials about the completeness and
reliability of JICMS data and controls in place for these data. We used this
information to assess ICE controls for maintaining JICMS data against
ICE requirements and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government. 9 We determined that the data within JICMS were sufficiently
reliable for the purpose of presenting the type and outcome of sexual
abuse and assault allegations, but we found limitations with the
information about the number of reported sexual abuse allegations in
JICMS, which we discuss later in this report. We also conducted limited
testing of mechanisms available to detainees for reporting sexual abuse
at each of the facilities we visited by placing calls to ICE hotlines from
selected telephones within detainee housing, among other things, and
assessed these mechanisms against ICE detention standards
requirements and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government. 10 In addition, we collected and analyzed telephone
connectivity data from ERO to determine the extent to which detainee
calls placed to the OIG hotline from fiscal years 2010 through 2012 using

8

We selected October 2009 because, according to ICE officials, data prior to fiscal year
2010 do not include sexual abuse and assault allegations against detainees. According to
ICE OPR, it did not collect this information in JICMS prior to fiscal year 2010 because the
office was focused on employee and contractor misconduct rather than detainee
misconduct. We selected March 2013 because OPR had completed most investigations
into allegations made through then at the time of our review.
9

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

10

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

ICE’s telephone contractor or its pro bono telephone platform were
successfully connected. 11 We assessed the reliability of these data by
interviewing ERO officials and contractor personnel familiar with the
processes used to collect, record, and analyze the data, and determined
that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our report.
Finally, we assessed the completeness of documentation in a
nonprobability sample of 15 sexual abuse and assault allegation files
maintained at the 10 facilities we visited against ICE requirements and
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. 12
To determine the extent to which DHS detention standards include SAAPI
provisions, we reviewed relevant ICE SAAPI standards and policies
currently applicable to, or proposed for, ICE detention facilities. In
particular, to establish the relative protections these standards afford
detainees, we analyzed and compared ICE’s four sets of detention
standards and DHS’s December 2012 notice of proposed rulemaking for
implementing PREA—Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to
Sexual Abuse and Assault in Confinement Facilities. In addition, we
compared DHS’s most recent set of detention standards—the 2011
Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS)—and notice
of proposed rulemaking with National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission recommendations for immigration detention facilities and
also compared DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking and the Department
of Justice’s (DOJ) PREA rule. To determine which sexual abuse and
assault standards ICE requires facilities to implement, we collected fiscal
year 2013 detention standards data from ERO and OAQ and compared
the maintenance of this data against Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government. 13 We assessed the reliability of the ERO and OAQ
detention standards data by reviewing the contracts on which the data
were based for a nonprobability sample of 20 facilities, and interviewing

11

ERO officials explained that ICE contracts with one telephone company to provide full
telephone service for detainees at 18 of its 251 detention facilities. In addition, 191
facilities use this telephone company’s nationwide pro bono platform, which enables
detainees to place calls at no charge to certain numbers, including the OIG hotline.

12

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

13

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

ERO and OAQ officials about any discrepancies in the data. 14 We
determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purpose of
presenting trends in the standards to which different types of facilities are
to adhere, but we found limitations with the data on the number of
facilities that are obligated by their contracts or agreement with ICE to
adhere to particular sets of detention standards, which we discuss later in
the report.
To determine the extent to which DHS has assessed facility compliance
with SAAPI provisions, as well as the results of these assessments, we
analyzed and compared various oversight mechanisms, such as
inspections, utilized at ICE’s detention facilities. Specifically, we
interviewed ICE officials responsible for facility oversight; ERO officials
responsible for reviewing results from facility self-assessments;
representatives from the ERO contractor responsible for conducting
facility inspections; and DOJ officials responsible for assessing
compliance with DOJ standards at facilities with which DOJ has
agreements that house ICE detainees. We also reviewed the results of
the 110 ERO and 30 Office of Detention Oversight (ODO) facility
inspection reports that assessed compliance with SAAPI standards during
fiscal years 2010 through 2013 to assess the extent to which inspectors
found deficiencies in the SAAPI standards, associated corrective actions,
and any patterns across reports. 15 We assessed the consistency with
which the SAAPI inspections were performed in accordance with
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. 16 Additional
details on our scope and methodology are contained in appendix I.
We conducted this performance audit from October 2012 through
November 2013 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the

14

We selected this sample to include (1) facilities at which we conducted site visits and (2)
facilities for which ERO and OAQ information on facility standards differed. While not
generalizable, this sample provided us with helpful insights into the reliability of ERO and
OAQ’s information on facility standards.

15

We chose this time frame because prior to fiscal year 2010, the scope of ICE’s
inspections of the SAAPI standard was limited to 2 of its 251 facilities. In addition, our
analysis included inspection reports available as of August 2013. At that time, all but 2
ERO and 3 Office of Detention Oversight inspections reports scheduled for fiscal year
2013 were available for our review.

16

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We
believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

Background
Legislation and
Regulations Pertaining
to Sexual Abuse and
Assault in Confinement

PREA was enacted to, among other things, establish a zero-tolerance
standard for rape in U.S. prisons and make the prevention of prison rape
a top priority in each prison system. 17 PREA also charged the National
Prison Rape Elimination Commission with recommending standards for
addressing prison rape for consideration by the Attorney General and
directed the Attorney General to adopt national standards for the
detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape. 18 In June
2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission issued a report
with recommended standards, including specific recommendations for
facilities that house immigration detainees, and in May 2012, DOJ
released a final rule for publication in the Federal Register adopting
national standards for the detection and prevention of, and response to,
prison rape. 19 When DOJ published its final rule, DOJ also announced its
conclusion that PREA encompasses all federal confinement facilities, and
noted that other federal departments with confinement facilities (including
but not limited to DHS) would work with the Attorney General to issue
rules or procedures that would satisfy the requirements of PREA. 20 In
May 2012, the President also issued a memorandum directing all
agencies with federal confinement facilities not already subject to DOJ’s
final rule to work with the Attorney General to propose, within 120 days of
May 17, 2012, any rule or procedure necessary to satisfy the
requirements of PREA and to finalize any such rules or procedures within

17

42 U.S.C. § 15602(1)-(2).

18

42 U.S.C. §§ 15606(e)(1), 15607(a).

19

See National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission Report, June, 2009, and National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and
Respond to Prison Rape, 77 Fed. Reg. 37,106 (June 20, 2012) (to be codified at 28
C.F.R. pt. 115).

20

77 Fed. Reg. at 37,112-13.

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240 days of their proposals. 21 On December 6, 2012, DHS released a
notice of proposed rulemaking for publication in the Federal Register for
adopting its own national standards for the detection and prevention of,
and response to, sexual abuse and assault in confinement facilities. 22
According to DHS officials, the department did not have a planned date
for releasing its final PREA rule, but anticipated doing so in fall 2013. 23

Detainee Population
and Detention Facility
Structure

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides ICE with broad authority to
detain aliens believed to be removable while awaiting a determination of
whether they should be removed from the United States and mandates
that ICE detain certain categories of aliens. 24 Aliens subject to mandatory
detention include those arriving in the United States without
documentation or with fraudulent documentation, those who are
inadmissible or deportable on criminal or national security grounds, those
certified as terrorist suspects, and those who have final orders of removal.
Unlike criminal incarceration, immigration detention is not to be punitive;
rather, ICE is to confine detainees for the administrative purpose of
holding, processing, and preparing them for removal. According to ICE
data, during 2012, the agency detained about 32,000 detainees in its
detention facilities each day and held detainees for an average of about
28 days. 25 ICE detainees include a mix of men and women from a wide
variety of countries and with criminal and noncriminal backgrounds. 26 For
example, ICE’s fiscal year 2012 detainee population was about 91

21

White House, Presidential Memorandum—Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination
Act (Washington, D.C.: May 2012).

22

Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in
Confinement Facilities, 77 Fed. Reg. 75,300 (Dec. 19, 2012).

23

DHS officials also stated that the department provided its final PREA rule to the Office of
Management and Budget for review in September 2013.

24

8 U.S.C. §§ 1225, 1226, 1226a, 1231.

25

These data are approximations for ICE detention facilities and do not include other types
of facilities, such as holding facilities.

26

ICE generally does not detain children, with the exception of children that the agency
detains with their families at one family residential facility. ICE must transfer
unaccompanied alien children less than 18 years of age who are unlawfully in the United
States without a parent or other legal guardian to the Department of Health and Human
Services Office of Refugee Resettlement’s custody within 72 hours of determining that
they are unaccompanied. See 8 U.S.C. § 1232(b)(3).

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percent male and 9 percent female and came from almost 200 countries.
When detention facilities admit aliens, they are to use a classification
system through which they separate detainees by threat risk and special
vulnerabilities by assigning them a custody level of low, medium, or high.
From fiscal years 2010 through 2012, about 39 percent of ICE detainees
were of a low custody level, 41 percent were of a medium custody level,
and 20 percent were of a high custody level. 27
ICE’s ERO oversees the confinement of ICE detainees in approximately
250 detention facilities that it manages in conjunction with private
contractors or under agreements with state and local governments. 28
Over 90 percent of facilities are operated under agreements with state
and local governments and house about half of ICE detainees together
with or separately from other confined populations. The remaining
facilities house exclusively ICE detainees and are operated by a mixture
of private contractors and ICE, state, and local government employees.
Table 1 presents information about the number and types of facilities that
ICE uses to house detainees, the entities that own and operate them, and
the percentage of the detainee population confined in each facility type.

27

ICE’s custody classification system considers various factors including the detainee’s
most recent charge or conviction, the most serious conviction in the individual’s criminal
history, any other prior felony convictions, any attempts to escape from custody, if the
individual has a history of assaultive behavior, and the individual’s behavioral history.

28

In addition to detention facilities, ICE also has 127 holding facilities, which are used by
ICE, U.S Customs and Border Protection, and other DHS component agencies for
temporary administrative detention of individuals for less than 24 hours pending transfer to
a court, jail, prison, other agency, or other unit of the facility or agency.

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Table 1: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Facility Types and Characteristics
Number of
a
facilities

Detainee
b
population

Facilities owned by ICE, operated by a mix of ICE employees and
contractor staff, that exclusively house ICE detainees.

6

12%

Contract
detention facility

Facilities owned and operated by private companies under direct
ICE contracts that exclusively house ICE detainees.

7

19%

Dedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

Facilities owned by state and local governments or private entities,
operated under agreements with state and local governments, that
exclusively house ICE detainees.

c

22%

Family residential

Facility owned and operated by a local government entity that
houses children and their families and exclusively houses ICE
detainees.

1

<1%

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

Facilities owned by state and local governments or private entities,
operated under agreement by state and local governments, that
house ICE detainees in addition to other confined populations (e.g.,
inmates), either together or separately.

103

34%

U.S. Marshals
Service (USMS)
intergovernmental
agreement or contract

Facilities owned and operated by state and local governments or
private entities under agreement or contract with USMS within the
Department of Justice to house federal prisoners until they are
acquitted or convicted. ICE takes out task orders against the USMS
intergovernmental agreements and contracts to house immigration
detainees at these facilities, either together with or separately from
other populations.

125

14%

Facility type

Description

Service
processing center

9

Source: GAO analysis of ICE information.

Notes: ICE authorizes facilities to house detainees for up to 72 hours or more than 72 hours. Of ICE’s
251 facilities, 85 are authorized to house detainees for up to 72 hours. These consist of 31
nondedicated intergovernmental service agreement facilities and 54 USMS intergovernmental
agreement facilities. In addition to the facilities listed in this table, ICE also uses 3 facilities operated
by the DOJ Federal Bureau of Prisons to confine detainees.
a

The number of each facility’s type presented in this table is as of August 2013.

b

Detainee population percentages are based on the average daily detainee population at facilities
across fiscal years 2010 through 2012. Percentages do not sum to 100 because of rounding.

c

ICE initially used 1 of these facilities as a family residential facility, but in 2009 converted it to a
women-only facility.

ICE’s detention facilities are located across the United States. In general,
facilities that house the most detainees and exclusively ICE detainees are
concentrated in the southern United States, while facilities that house
fewer detainees are more evenly distributed across the nation. Figure 1
presents the locations of ICE’s facilities by size and type.

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Figure 1: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Facility Locations, as of August 2013

Note: Average daily population is based on ICE data for fiscal years 2010 through 2012.

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Detention Standards

ICE uses four sets of national detention standards with varying
requirements to govern the conditions of confinement in its detention
facilities. ICE establishes the set of standards applicable to each
detention facility through an individual contract or agreement with the
facility. Accordingly, different facilities are governed by different
standards. Table 2 provides information about each of these four sets of
standards.

Table 2: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Standards
2000 National
Detention Standards
(NDS)

These standards are derived from the American Correctional Association’s Standards for Adult Local
Detention Facilities, Third Edition, and were developed by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service
within the Department of Justice (DOJ) in consultation with various stakeholders, including the American Bar
Association—an association of attorneys—and organizations involved in pro bono representation and
advocacy for immigration detainees. Following the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in
2002, DHS became responsible for immigration detention and began operating the detention system under
the 2000 NDS.

2007 Family
ICE approved the Family Residential Standards in 2007 to apply to its facilities that house families in
Residential Standards detention. The Family Residential Standards are based on ICE analysis of family detention operations and
state statutes that affect children.
2008 PerformanceBased National
Detention Standards
(PBNDS)

ICE revised the 2000 NDS to integrate changes included in, and move to a performance-based format more in
line with, the American Correctional Association’s Performance-Based Standards for Adult Local Detention
Facilities, Fourth Edition. The 2008 PBNDS, which ICE developed in coordination with agency stakeholders to
apply to adult detention populations, prescribe the expected outcomes of each detention standard and the
expected practices required to achieve them. The 2008 PBNDS also include more detailed requirements for
service processing centers and contract detention facilities.

2011 PBNDS

ICE revised the 2008 PBNDS to improve conditions of confinement in various ways, including medical and
mental health services, access to legal services and religious opportunities, communication with detainees
with no or limited English proficiency, the process for reporting and responding to complaints, and recreation
and visitation. The 2011 PBNDS also expanded the more detailed requirements for service processing centers
and contract detention facilities included in the 2008 PBNDS to dedicated intergovernmental service
agreement facilities or, in some cases, to all facilities.
Source: GAO analysis of ICE information.

Note: U.S. Marshals Service intergovernmental agreement facilities are under agreements to adhere
to DOJ detention standards. Facilities under private contract with the U.S. Marshals Service are to
adhere to the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards, which incorporate elements of
American Correctional Association standards, DOJ standards, and the 2000 NDS.

DHS Agencies’ Roles
and Responsibilities

Within DHS, ICE has the primary responsibility for SAAPI in immigration
detention facilities, but other components—including the OIG and Office
for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties—also play a role by investigating sexual
abuse allegations. Table 3 identifies the primary DHS components
involved in SAAPI in detention facilities and their respective roles and
responsibilities.

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Table 3: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Roles and
Responsibilities in Detention Facilities
DHS components and offices

Roles and responsibilities pertaining to SAAPI

U.S. Immigration and Customs
a
Enforcement (ICE)
Enforcement and Removal
Operations (ERO)

•

Identifies and apprehends removable aliens, detaining these individuals when it deems
necessary, and removing them from the United States

Custody Management

•

Contracts with inspectors to conduct routine inspections of certain detention facilities to
assess compliance with ICE detention standards, including SAAPI standards, and develops
corrective action plans, as necessary
Oversees the on-site Detention Monitoring Program, created in 2010, which places ICE
detention service managers (DSM) at select facilities to monitor that conditions of
confinement are in accordance with ICE detention standards, including SAAPI standards
Administers the ICE Community and Detainee Helpline, which detainees may use to report
sexual abuse and assault, among other grievances
Ensures that the appropriate components have been notified following an alleged sexual
abuse or assault, and documents these notifications
Ensures that facilities are aware of response, intervention, and investigation mandates
established by relevant detention standards following alleged sexual abuse or assault
through personnel located at 24 field offices
Reviews annual self-assessments conducted by select facilities
Leads efforts to design detention standards, including SAAPI standards, and was charged
with designing a new civil detention system

•

•

Field Operations

•
•

•

Office of Detention Policy
and Planning (ODPP)

•

Office of Professional
Responsibility (OPR)

•
•

•
•

Investigates select allegations of sexual abuse and assault
Documents allegations of sexual abuse and assault in the Joint Integrity Case Management
System, a system to log, track, and manage cases for all OPR functions including
investigations
Coordinates sexual abuse and assault investigations with federal, state, or local law
enforcement or facility incident review personnel
Houses an agency-wide Prevention of Sexual Assault coordinator to develop, implement,
and oversee ICEs SAAPI efforts
Inspects facility compliance with detention standards, including SAAPI standards, using a
risk-based methodology

Office of Detention
Oversight (ODO)

•

Joint Intake Center

•

Receives, processes, and assigns for review or investigation all misconduct allegations
involving ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees and contractors, including
those pertaining to sexual abuse and assault in detention facilities

ICE Health Service Corps

•

Provides direct detainee care in some facilities, where corps members may serve as first
responders in instances of sexual abuse and assault, and oversees care administered by
non-ICE Health Services Corps providers in other facilities

Office of Acquisition
Management (OAQ)

•

Negotiates and manages ICE contracts and agreements for detainee housing at detention
facilities

•

Operates a hotline to which detainees can report sexual abuse and assault allegations
Has investigative primacy for all sexual abuse and assault allegations against DHS or
contractor staff members regardless of how they are reported

Office of Inspector General

•

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DHS components and offices

Roles and responsibilities pertaining to SAAPI

Office for Civil Rights and
Civil Liberties

•
•

Investigates complaints alleging violation of civil rights and civil liberties and addresses
allegations from a policy perspective
Consults with ICE in the development of detention standards, including SAAPI standards
Source: GAO analysis of DHS information.
a
In May 2012, ICE issued guidance—Directive 11062.1: Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and
Intervention—assigning SAAPI responsibilities to individual ICE components. This table focuses on
the primary ICE offices and components with roles and responsibilities related to SAAPI in detention
facilities; however, the directive also assigns SAAPI-related responsibilities to certain other offices,
such as ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, which may take aliens into custody through arrest.

ICE Sexual Abuse and
Assault Allegations
Data Are Not
Complete, Which
Could Limit Their
Usefulness for
Detention
Management
ICE Data Describe the
Type and Outcome of
Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations, but Missing
Data Could Limit Their
Usefulness for Managing
Abuse Prevention and
Intervention

Our analysis of ICE JICMS data showed 215 allegations of sexual abuse
and assault in ICE detention facilities from October 2009 through March
2013, during which time ICE data indicate that its detention facilities had
more than 1.2 million admissions. 29 JICMS data describe the
circumstances around the alleged incidents reported to OPR, and our
analysis of these data showed that more sexual abuse and assault
allegations were made against other detainees than against facility staff,
and allegations against staff were most often related to actions taken
while staff were conducting job duties. Specifically, our analysis showed
that of the 215 allegations, 123 were allegations against fellow detainees

29

JICMS is a system to log, track, and manage cases for all OPR functions including
investigations, management inspections, and personnel security. Several groups within
DHS use and access JICMS, including ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the
Joint Intake Center, and the DHS OIG. There were an additional 9 allegations from this
time period in JICMS for which OPR investigations remained open as of August 2013. We
excluded these allegations from our analysis.

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or inmates, 86 were allegations against staff members, and 6 did not
specify the perpetrator. 30 In general, allegations that named fellow
detainees as the perpetrator tended to be allegations of inappropriate
touching or penetration or attempted penetration. Allegations that named
staff members as the perpetrator tended to be allegations of harassment
or allegations that a staff member had sexually abused the victim during
the course of job duties—for example, by touching a detainee
inappropriately during a pat-down search. Table 4 describes allegations
reported in JICMS from October 2009 through March 2013.

30

Between October 2009 and March 2013, OPR changed the definition of sexual abuse
and assault it used to identify such allegations in JICMS. Specifically, prior to May 2012,
OPR defined detainee-on-detainee sexual abuse or assault as one or more detainees
engaging in, or attempting to engage in, a sexual act with another detainee or the use of
threats, intimidation, inappropriate touching, or other actions or communications by one or
more detainees aimed at coercing or pressuring another detainee to engage in a sexual
act. Staff-on-detainee sexual abuse or assault was defined as a staff member engaging in,
or attempting to engage in, a sexual act with any detainee or the intentional touching of a
detainee’s genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks with the intent to abuse,
humiliate, harass, degrade, arouse, or gratify the sexual desires of any person. In addition
staff sexual misconduct included profane or abusive language or gestures and
inappropriate visual surveillance of detainees. In May 2012, OPR began to employ the
sexual abuse and assault definition included in the 2011 PBNDS, which broadened
detainee-on-detainee abuse to include attempted sexually abusive contact as well as
intentional touching of a detainee in the same ways as previously defined by staff-ondetainee abuse when accomplished by force, coercion, or intimidation. The 2011 PBNDS
staff-on-detainee abuse definition was broadened to also include repeated oral statements
or comments of a sexual nature to a detainee, including demeaning references to gender,
derogatory comments about body or clothing, or profane or obscene language or
gestures.

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Table 4: Characteristics of the 215 Closed Sexual Abuse and Assault Allegations at Immigration Detention Facilities Included
in the Joint Integrity Case Management System, October 2009-March 2013, by Percentage
Allegations against
a
staff members

Allegations against
fellow detainees
and inmates

Allegations against
unspecified perpetrators

All
allegations

Male

52

73

17

63

Female

23

19

0

20

Not specified

24

8

83

17

13

25

17

20

Gender of alleged perpetrator

Type of abuse alleged
Penetration/attempted
penetration
Inappropriate touching

20

50

33

37

Harassment, including voyeurism

23

11

0

15

Part of staff duties

34

Not applicable

0

13

Other or not specified

10

15

50

14

b

Source: GAO analysis of Joint Integrity Case Management System data.

Notes: Percentages do not sum to 100 because of rounding.
a

This column includes 2 allegations that identified both staff and detainee perpetrators.

b

This category includes alleged abuse and assault by staff during their employment duties, such as
inappropriately touching a detainee during a pat-down search.

Of the 215 investigations of the allegations completed between October
2009 and March 2013, our analysis showed that 55 percent of the
allegations were determined to be unsubstantiated (investigators could
not determine if abuse had occurred), 38 percent unfounded
(investigators determined that abuse had not occurred), and 7 percent—
or 15 allegations—substantiated (investigators determined that abuse had
occurred). 31 Substantiated allegations included both allegations against
staff members and allegations against fellow detainees as well as a
variety of types of sexual abuse and assault, including attempted
penetration, inappropriate touching, and sexual harassment (for
descriptions of the 15 substantiated allegations, see app. II). Nearly all of
the detainees (51 of 53) we interviewed at the 9 facilities we visited
housing detainees stated that they felt safe at the detention facility in

31

Investigations into these 215 allegations were conducted by local law enforcement
agencies, OPR investigators, or DHS OIG investigators.

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which they were residing, which they attributed to factors such as
respectful treatment and professionalism by guards and a peaceful
culture among detainees. 32 Table 5 shows the outcomes of the 215
closed investigations of the sexual abuse and assault allegations.
Table 5: Results of Closed Investigations into Sexual Abuse and Assault Allegations Included in the Joint Integrity Case
Management System, October 2009-March 2013
Number of
investigations

Percentage of
investigations

15

7

An investigation could not determine whether or not the
alleged incident occurred.

119

55

An investigation determined that the alleged incident did
not occur.

81

38

Outcome

Description

Substantiated

An investigation determined the alleged incident
occurred.

Unsubstantiated
Unfounded

Source: GAO analysis of Joint Integrity Case Management System data.

Our analysis of the closing reports for these 215 investigations indicated
several frequently cited reasons why the majority of allegations could not
be proved or disproved and were therefore reported as unsubstantiated.
For example, in 29 percent of the unsubstantiated allegations, our
analysis showed that the alleged victim either chose not to cooperate with
the investigation or recanted or denied the allegation. Detainees may also
report false allegations—for example, in an attempt to delay deportation—
according to officials at the facilities we visited. In addition, as DOJ has
reported, confined individuals, including detainees, may not report sexual
abuse and assault because doing so requires them to relive an
experience that was traumatic, they feel shame or embarrassment about
the incident, or they live in fear of retribution or retaliation from the
perpetrator. 33 Therefore the extent to which data describing reported
incidents reflect the actual incident rate is unknown. Other frequently cited
reasons from our analysis were that no evidence of assault existed and
local law enforcement or prosecutors chose not to pursue the case. 34
32

These results cannot be generalized across all detainees in all immigration detention
facilities.

33

Department of Justice, Regulatory Impact Assessment for PREA Final Rule, (2012), 39.

34
According to OPR officials, local law enforcement or prosecutors may choose to decline
a case for reasons such as insufficient evidence or higher-priority cases.

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Less frequently cited reasons were that witness statements, medical
evidence, or video evidence did not corroborate the allegation. Table 6
shows our analysis of the number and percentage of closing reports citing
reasons for unsubstantiated allegations.
Table 6: GAO Analysis of Reasons Why 119 Sexual Abuse and Assault Allegations Reported in the Joint Integrity Case
Management System Were Determined to Be Unsubstantiated, October 2009-March 2013
a

Reason

Number of cases Percentage of cases

Investigation did not uncover evidence that substantiated an assault.

46

39

Victim did not cooperate with the investigation, declined to press charges, or recanted
the allegation.

35

29

Federal or local authorities chose not to pursue the case.

31

26

Incident occurred, but was determined not to constitute sexual abuse or assault.

12

10

Video surveillance footage did not corroborate allegation.

10

8

6

5

Medical evidence did not corroborate allegation.
Witness statements did not corroborate allegations.

10

8

Other reason provided, such as the alleged victim being deported.

30

25

9

8

No reason provided.
Source: GAO analysis of Joint Integrity Case Management System data.
a

Some closing reports cite multiple reasons for the investigation outcome. Therefore, the total does
not sum to 119, and percentages do not add to 100.

Allegations of sexual abuse and assault have not been consistently
reported for entry into ICE’s JICMS, and while ICE has issued guidance
to help improve reporting, developing internal controls to monitor
reporting could help ICE ensure that it has more complete allegations
data moving forward. ICE detention standards require that facilities
provide detainees with several methods to report sexual abuse and
assault, and all ICE components are required to report any allegations
they receive to the Joint Intake Center at OPR headquarters, which then
is to open a case in JICMS. 35 In addition, the OIG and Office for Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties also report certain allegations they receive to

35

ICE, Directive 11062.1.

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the Joint Intake Center or directly to ICE OPR. 36 These reporting methods
include the fact that detainees can report abuse or assault to any facility
or ERO staff member orally or in writing; and that detainees can make
free phone calls to DHS headquarters hotlines, their consulates, and
other pro bono services (for more information about the reporting and
investigation process, see app. III). Most sexual abuse and assault
allegations are reported by detainees to local facility management, rather
than through headquarters hotlines or other mechanisms. For example,
approximately three-quarters of the allegations contained in JICMS for
October 2009 through March 2013 (163 of 215) were reported locally at a
detention facility. When facility staff learn of an allegation, they are to
report it to the local ERO field office, which is to officially report the
allegation to the Joint Intake Center by submitting a Significant Incident
Report.
However, we found examples of allegations reported locally by detainees,
either to facilities or ERO field offices, from fiscal years 2010 through
2012, that were not included in JICMS because ERO field offices did not
consistently report allegations they received to the Joint Intake Center. 37
In particular, 28 of the 70 allegations (40 percent) provided to us by ERO
field office officials at the 10 facilities we visited for fiscal years 2010
through 2012 were not in JICMS, and these officials reported that they
had not submitted Significant Incident Reports for them for reasons
including that they deemed the allegation to constitute harassment rather

36

According to OPR officials, if a detainee or third party reports an allegation directly to the
DHS OIG and the OIG decides to investigate, the OIG would not report the allegation to
the Joint Intake Center; however, if the OIG decides not to investigate, the OIG is to report
the allegation to ICE. According to OIG officials, they rarely investigate sexual abuse and
assault allegations in detention facilities. In particular, DHS Management Directive 0810.1,
which establishes DHS policy regarding the DHS OIG, specifies that any allegation that
the OIG chooses not to investigate is to be forwarded to the appropriate DHS component,
which is OPR for allegations of sexual abuse and assault in detention facilities. According
to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties officials, the office first refers allegations it
receives to the DHS OIG, which generally declines and returns them to the Office for Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties, after which the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
investigates them or refers them to ICE OPR. Cases that the Office for Civil Rights and
Civil Liberties refers to OPR are to be entered in JICMS.

37

We limited our analysis of the extent to which these allegations appear in JICMS data to
fiscal years 2010 through 2012 because these years of data were available at the time of
our 10 site visits to detention facilities.

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than abuse, or that they determined that the allegation was unfounded. 38
As a result, these 28 allegations were not included in ICE sexual abuse
and assault data for that time period, although they were required to be
reported to the Joint Intake Center, according to ICE officials responsible
for JICMS data. 39 In May 2012, ICE issued a directive to establish policies
and procedures for the prevention of sexual abuse or assault of
individuals in ICE custody that clarified the requirement to report all
sexual abuse and assault allegations to the Joint Intake Center. 40
According to the ICE Prevention of Sexual Assault coordinator, this
directive, along with subsequent training ICE provided to ERO officials on
its implementation, was intended to improve the reporting and
completeness of sexual abuse and assault data captured in JICMS. This
is a positive step that could help improve the reporting of sexual abuse
and assault allegations by local ERO officials. However, OPR has not
developed controls to ensure that ERO field office officials responsible for
overseeing all facilities are reporting sexual abuse and assault
allegations, and ERO field office officials told us that they did not submit
Significant Incident Reports for 3 of 9 sexual abuse or assault allegations
made after May 2012 at the facilities we visited. 41 According to OPR
officials, ODO risk-based inspections, which we discuss in more detail
later in this report, may help ensure that ICE ERO field office officials
responsible for overseeing facilities ODO inspects report all sexual abuse
and assault allegations to the Joint Intake Center. However, ODO
inspected compliance with SAAPI provisions at a minority of facilities—an
average of less than 8 (3 percent) from fiscal years 2010 through 2013—
and OPR has not implemented controls to ensure reporting by field office
officials at the remainder of facilities.

38

For an additional 9 allegations, although ERO field office officials told us that they did
not submit a Significant Incident Report for the allegation, OPR located the allegation in
JICMS, indicating that ICE headquarters learned of the allegations through another DHS
office or a third party.

39

ICE initially communicated this requirement to ERO field office directors in a June 2006
memo titled Protocol on Reporting and Tracking of Assaults.

40

ICE, Directive 11062.1.

41

These 3 allegations consisted of 1 allegation that OPR could not locate in JICMS and 2
allegations for which ERO field office officials said that they did not submit Significant
Incident Reports. While field office officials reported the latter 2 allegations by electronic
mail to the Joint Intake Center or through the local OPR field office, they did not do so in
accordance with ICE Directive 11062.1, which requires that the local ERO field office
director submit a Significant Incident Report within 24 hours of an allegation.

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Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government highlights the
need for capturing information to meet program objectives and
determining that relevant, reliable, and timely information is available for
management decision-making purposes. 42 Without complete data on
sexual abuse and assault allegations at immigration detention facilities,
ICE does not have all pertinent information needed for detention
management decision making. In the past, ICE has used JICMS primarily
to oversee investigations of individual allegations. However, according to
agency officials, ICE plans to use reported sexual abuse allegations
maintained in JICMS for incident review and monitoring as well. 43 The
ICE May 2012 directive describes requirements for data use including
that the ICE Prevention of Sexual Assault coordinator analyze and report
on sexual abuse allegations, identify problem areas and recommend
corrective actions for the agency, and provide an assessment of the
agency’s progress in addressing sexual abuse and assault in a publicly
available annual report. 44 The DHS PREA notice of proposed rulemaking
also proposes to require that ICE collect and aggregate data related to
sexual abuse and assault to facilitate the agency’s ability to detect
possible patterns and help prevent future incidents. Developing and
implementing additional controls to ensure reporting of sexual abuse and
assault allegations by ERO field offices to the Joint Intake Center could
help better ensure the completeness of JICMS sexual abuse and assault
data and thereby strengthen these data’s usefulness for making detention
management decisions and meeting these program management goals.

42

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

43

In addition, DHS used JICMS sexual abuse data in the regulatory impact analysis
accompanying DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking to identify a benchmark level of
sexual abuse allegations and estimate the number of incidents at DHS confinement
facilities. See DHS, Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and
Assault in Confinement Facilities: Initial Regulatory Impact Analysis (2012), 24-26.

44

ICE, Directive 11062.1.

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ICE Is Working to
Minimize Barriers to
Detainees Reporting
Abuse, but Certain
Barriers Could Result in
Unreported Allegations

According to ICE officials, ICE detention standards are intended to
encourage detainees to report sexual abuse and assault and require
facilities to provide multiple methods to report abuse; however, ICE data
on sexual abuse allegations could also be incomplete because of barriers
detainees sometimes face in reporting abuse. 45 The National Prison Rape
Elimination Commission reported that efforts to enhance reporting
depend on the accessibility and safety of mechanisms to report sexual
abuse, and agencies should make reporting sexual abuse as easy,
private, and secure as possible, including by providing detainees access
to the DHS OIG and other hotlines. Further, according to the National
Prison Rape Elimination Commission, some confined individuals,
including detainees, will never feel comfortable reporting abuse internally
to a corrections employee, and thus it is important to provide them with
the option of confidentially reporting to an outside entity. Nearly all
detainees we interviewed at 9 facilities (46 of 50) reported that they knew
of at least one mechanism to report sexual abuse; however, some
detainees (7 of 53) expressed concerns with reporting abuse, such as
fear of retaliation or uncertainty that the allegation would be treated with
confidentiality. 46 ICE has taken steps intended to help improve the
reporting of sexual abuse and assault allegations by, for example,
explicitly forbidding retaliation for reporting sexual abuse and assault in its
detention standards, establishing a hotline to serve as an alternative
method for detainees to report sexual abuse and assault to ICE
headquarters, and appointing an agency-wide Prevention of Sexual
Assault coordinator to oversee efforts to improve prevention and
response practices, including with respect to reporting issues.
During our site visits to 10 facilities and review of phone records from
approximately 200 detention facilities, we observed indications that
detainees may sometimes face barriers to accessing the DHS OIG hotline
for reporting abuse at some of the facilities we visited. Although detainees
report most sexual abuse and assault allegations to local facility
management, consistent with the National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission’s recommendations to facilitate reporting by detainees who
may feel uncomfortable reporting internally, ICE requires that detainees at

45

See appendix IV for more information about SAAPI provisions included in ICE detention
standards.

46

We interviewed 53 detainees at 9 facilities. Of these, 3 detainees at 3 facilities did not
state whether they knew of at least one mechanism to report sexual abuse.

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all facilities have access to make free phone calls to the OIG to report
abuse, including sexual abuse and assault allegations. During our site
visits, we attempted to connect to the OIG hotline using phones in
detainee housing pods and had mixed success in reaching the hotline.
Specifically, in 5 out of 19 total attempts using phones at 10 facilities, we
were unable to reach the OIG hotline (4 instances) or were unable to
leave a message for the OIG (1 instance). We were unable to determine if
the problem was with the phone or the OIG hotline itself. We previously
reported in 2007 that systematic problems in facility telephone systems
restricted detainees’ abilities to reach the OIG hotline and other pro bono
numbers. 47 Specifically, we found that from November 2005 through
November 2006, the percentage of unsuccessful calls placed to pro bono
numbers programmed into ICE’s telephone system ranged from
approximately 26 percent to 65 percent each month, and that systemwide facility success rates for complete calls showed a similar trend of
performance. We made seven recommendations to ensure that detainees
could access resources by telephone and that all detainee complaints
were reviewed and acted upon as necessary. DHS implemented these
recommendations by monitoring a new contractor for the telephones,
posting pro bono numbers in detainee housing areas, and testing facility
telephones, among other actions. Our review of phone records data
maintained by ERO’s phone services contractor for fiscal years 2010
through 2012 showed that approximately 14 percent of calls placed to the
OIG hotline by detainees from about 210 facilities were not connected,
primarily because of detainees ending the call prior to its completion or
the OIG hotline not answering the call.
OIG officials were able to provide a possible reason for why we were not
able to leave a voice message on the hotline from one telephone, but did
not know why calls placed to the hotline were not connected in four of our
attempted calls and as shown by phone records data. According to OIG
officials, the OIG hotline is not staffed with a live operator, but permits
detainees to leave voice recordings, which OIG staff members are to
listen to and document. These OIG officials explained that we may not
have been able to leave a voice recording on the OIG hotline because the
voice recording mailbox was full because of an OIG staffing shortage.
More specifically, the OIG hotline voice recording mailbox can hold 135

47
GAO, Alien Detention Standards: Telephone Access Problems Were Pervasive at
Detention Facilities; Other Deficiencies Did Not Show a Pattern of Noncompliance,
GAO-07-875 (Washington D.C.: July 6, 2007).

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voice messages, after which the hotline does not permit callers to leave
voice recordings. According to OIG officials, OIG staff are to empty the
mailbox every day, but during staffing shortages, the mailbox may remain
full. For example, OIG officials stated that the OIG experienced a staffing
shortage from late May 2013 to late June 2013. OIG officials said that this
staffing shortage has been resolved, but were unaware that the OIG
could monitor hotline availability to detainees through connectivity data
collected by ERO’s phone services contractor. OIG officials stated that
receiving data on connectivity issues would be helpful to monitor the
ability of detainees to successfully call the OIG hotline from detention
facilities. Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government calls
for information to be communicated to individuals within an entity who
need it and in a form and within a time frame that enables the individuals
to carry out their responsibilities. 48 OIG and ERO coordination to ensure
OIG access to OIG hotline connectivity data could better ensure that the
OIG has information it needs to identify and address any technical issues
detainees face in reaching the OIG hotline. Receiving these data could
also help better position the OIG to fulfill its responsibility under the
Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, to receive and review
complaints and information from any source alleging abuses of civil rights
and civil liberties by DHS employees and employees of DHS
contractors. 49
Detainees may also face confusion in how to contact the OIG hotline
given that the navigation required to place a call to the hotline within the
telephone system generally requires several steps, or may not leave
sufficient information on the OIG hotline voice mail system, according to
DHS officials. For example, these officials explained that detainees may
not leave their names or the name of the facility in which they are
confined in their voice mail message, which makes it difficult for ICE to
take action on the allegation.
ICE officials acknowledged that there have been difficulties with
detainees connecting to the OIG hotline from detention centers and
stated that ICE established an alternative ICE-run hotline—the
Community and Detainee Helpline—in February 2013 that detainees can

48

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

49

Pub. L. No. 95-452, § 8I(f)(1)(B), 92 Stat. 1101, added by Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-458, § 8304, 118 Stat. 3638, 3868.

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use to directly report sexual abuse and assault allegations to ICE. 50
According to ICE officials, the Community and Detainee Helpline—which
is staffed with live operators for 12 hours each day—receives
approximately 150 to 250 calls each day, over 60 percent of which pertain
to detained individuals, and as of September 2013, had received a total of
83 calls concerning physical or sexual abuse.

Investigative Files
Maintained at Facilities
Varied in Completeness,
Potentially Limiting Their
Usefulness in Monitoring
and Analyzing Sexual
Abuse and Assault at
Individual Facilities

Files documenting investigations of sexual abuse and assault at the 10
facilities we visited varied in the extent to which they contained complete
documentation of the investigation and outcomes. OPR tracks sexual
abuse and assault allegations reported to ICE headquarters via JICMS;
however, individual facilities are responsible for maintaining investigative
files for allegations of incidents occurring in those facilities. ICE detention
standards specify that facilities are to document and track incidents of
sexual abuse and assault in order to monitor, evaluate, and assess the
effectiveness of the facility’s SAAPI program. In particular, ICE detention
standards specify that facilities are to maintain investigative files for
sexual abuse allegations to include information such as incident and
investigative reports, medical forms, and supporting memorandums,
among other things. 51 Internal control standards state that management is
responsible for developing detailed policies and procedures to fit the
agency’s operations, and according to ERO officials, these files should
demonstrate that an investigation was complete and thorough. Further,
federal internal control standards call for agencies to capture information
needed to meet program objectives and determine that relevant, reliable,
and timely information is available for decision making. 52
Our review of the facilities’ investigative files for all 70 allegations of
sexual abuse and assault occurring from fiscal years 2010 through 2012
at the 10 facilities we visited, however, showed that the files did not
consistently document and track information supporting the investigation
of the sexual abuse incidents. Specifically, our review showed that these

50

The Community and Detainee Helpline is available at all detention facilities authorized to
hold detainees for more than 72 hours, according to ICE officials.

51

ICE facilities subject to the 2007 Residential Standards, 2008 PBNDS, and 2011
PBNDS are required to adhere to these standards for investigative files; however, facilities
under the 2000 NDS are not required to adhere to these standards.

52

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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investigative files generally contained narrative information pertaining to
the circumstances of the allegation; however, they varied in the extent to
which they contained supporting documents, such as police reports and
the outcome of the investigations. We conducted a more detailed analysis
of the investigative files for a nonprobability sample of 15 of the 70,
including at least 1 allegation file from each of the 9 facilities we visited at
which there were allegations from fiscal years 2010 through 2012. Of the
15 files we reviewed in more detail, 9 files from 5 facilities did not include
supporting documentation, and 8 files from 5 facilities did not include
information about the outcomes of the investigation. 53 According to ICE
officials and facility administrators, the files may be incomplete because
ICE guidance does not provide facility officials with a clear understanding
of what specific information they should include, or the missing
documentation—such as the results of the forensic medical
examination—is retained by another department within the facility, such
as the medical clinic, among other things.
According to the ICE Prevention of Sexual Assault coordinator,
information contained in facility files is important for SAAPI program
management because it provides ICE with a basis to review how the
facility responded to sexual abuse or assault allegations and a means for
the facility’s SAAPI program coordinator to determine how the facility
could improve its response to allegations or to identify systemic or root
causes of abuse. In addition, the DHS PREA notice of proposed
rulemaking would establish requirements for facility investigations, which
would apply to all facilities once the rule’s standards are incorporated into
facility contracts. The notice of proposed rulemaking proposes to require
that facilities conduct a sexual abuse incident review at the conclusion of
every investigation of sexual abuse and, where the allegation was not
determined to be unfounded, prepare a written report recommending
whether the allegation or investigation indicates that a change in policy or
practice could better prevent, detect, or respond to sexual abuse, among
other new requirements. By clarifying guidance to help ensure that ICE
and facility administrators correctly document investigations into sexual
abuse and assault allegations, ICE could better ensure the completeness

53

Our more detailed analysis of the investigative files for these allegations identified files
at a total of 8 facilities that did not include either supporting documentation or information
about the outcomes of the investigation. ICE’s contracts or agreements with 4 of these 8
facilities cited detention standards that included specific requirements for maintaining
investigative files for sexual abuse allegations at the time the allegation was reported.

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of facility files for SAAPI program management purposes and better
position ICE and facility administrators to comply with the provisions of
the DHS notice of proposed rulemaking.

Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions in
Detention Standards
Vary in Content and
Applicability across
Facilities
Three of Four Sets of DHS
Detention Standards
Include Provisions
Focused on Sexual Abuse
and Assault

ICE has four sets of detention standards for facilities, three of which
include provisions on SAAPI and one that does not include SAAPI
provisions. Specifically, the 2000 NDS do not include such provisions, but
the three sets of standards that ICE subsequently developed—the 2007
Family Residential Standards, the 2008 PBNDS, and the 2011 PBNDS—
each include specific SAAPI provisions. The SAAPI provisions included in
the standards have increased in number and breadth over time, as shown
in table 7. The 2007 and 2008 standards include SAAPI provisions
spanning various topical areas, such as written policies and procedures,
program coordination, and investigation and prosecution. Most recently,
ICE developed the 2011 PBNDS, which include SAAPI provisions that
address the same topical areas as the 2008 PBNDS and are similarly
intended to apply to adult facilities. However, the 2011 PBNDS include
additional requirements, such as that written policies and procedures
include statement of a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse
or assault, and broader requirements within the topical areas, such as
that intergovernmental service agreement facilities designate a SAAPI
coordinator rather than only service processing centers and contract
detention facilities. Appendix IV provides more detailed information about
SAAPI provisions currently used across ICE detention standards for adult
facilities.

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Table 7: Examples of Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Provisions in U.S Immigration Customs
and Enforcement (ICE) Detention Standards for Adult Facilities
2000 National
Detention Standards
requirements

2008 Performance-Based National
Detention Standards (PBNDS)
requirements

Written policies
and procedures

None for SAAPI.

Require facility administrators to have
written SAAPI policies and procedures.

Require written SAAPI policies and
procedures to include additional
components, such as a statement of a
zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual
abuse or assault.

Program
coordination

None for SAAPI.

Require service processing centers and
contract detention facilities to designate a
SAAPI coordinator to, among other things,
coordinate the gathering of reports on
incidents of sexual abuse or assault.

Require all facilities that house detainees
for more than 72 hours, including
intergovernmental service agreement
facilities, to designate a SAAPI coordinator.

Investigation and
prosecution

Require facilities to
develop a process for
investigating detainee
grievances, including
allegations, but do not
specifically address
sexual abuse or
assault investigations.

Stipulate that a sensitive and coordinated
response is necessary when a detainee
alleges sexual abuse or assault, and that
all allegations are promptly and effectively
investigated. Require that staff preserve
the crime scene, when possible, and
arrange for the victim to undergo a forensic
medical examination, based on factors
such as availability of in-house expertise
and security considerations.

Require that all investigations into alleged
sexual assault be prompt, thorough,
objective, and conducted by trained
investigators. In addition, the facility
administrator must arrange for the victim to
undergo an off-site forensic medical
examination in all cases, rather than based
on such factors as availability of in-house
expertise and general security
considerations. Also require the facility
SAAPI coordinator to review the results of
every investigation of sexual abuse to
assess and improve prevention and
response efforts.

Topical area

Requirements in 2011 PBNDS beyond
those in 2008 PBNDS

Source: GAO analysis of ICE detention standards.

Note: The 2007 Family Residential Standards are not included in this table because the table focuses
on facilities that generally house adult immigration detainees. The 2007 Family Residential Standards
are intended to apply to facilities that house families, and as of August 2013, 1 of ICE’s 251 detention
facilities housed families.

SAAPI provisions in the DHS PREA notice of proposed rulemaking build
on those included in the PBNDS and other DHS detention policies, and
according to DHS officials, are similar to the provisions in the 2011
PBNDS, with certain differences. In addition, the provisions in the notice
of proposed rulemaking in many respects incorporate the standards for
immigration detention facilities recommended by the National Prison
Rape Elimination Commission, as shown in appendix V. As a set of
regulations, if finalized, DHS’s PREA notice of proposed rulemaking

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would carry more legal weight than agency policy with respect to the roles
and responsibilities of ICE employees. 54 DOJ’s PREA rule, from which
various provisions in DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking adopt exact
language, with certain differences—such as content for sexual abuse
training—applies to all facilities in a state, including state and local
facilities under agreement with USMS that house ICE detainees. 55
Appendix VI provides examples of select differences between the
standards included in DOJ’s PREA rule and DHS’s PREA notice of
proposed rulemaking.

ICE Does Not Have
Consistent and Reliable
Information to Determine
the Extent to Which
Sexual Abuse and Assault
Provisions Apply to
Different Facilities

ICE has information regarding the detention standards and SAAPI
provisions generally in place at different types of detention facilities;
however, ICE does not have reliable information to identify which
detention standards and SAAPI provisions apply to individual facilities. As
discussed previously, ICE establishes the standards applicable to its
detention facilities through either individual contracts or agreements.
According to ICE officials and documentation, the SAAPI provisions cited
in facility contracts or agreements vary by facility, but there are general
patterns across facility types, as summarized in table 8. ICE detention
program officials explained that not all facilities are bound to ICE’s most
recent standards because of resource considerations. In particular, if
facilities that house very few detainees require additional funds to adopt
more recent standards, it might not be cost-effective for ICE to

54

Provisions in the rule that are applicable to ICE would be effective on the date a final
version of the rule takes effect and would carry more legal weight than agency policy for
ICE and ICE employees. Provisions in the rule that are applicable to facilities would be
effective once they are incorporated into facility contracts and would therefore carry the
same legal weight as the detention standards in existing contracts. 77 Fed. Reg. at
75,304.

55

State-controlled facilities, including USMS intergovernmental agreement facilities, that
do not implement the DOJ PREA rule may cause state forfeiture of DOJ grant funding. In
particular, PREA provides that DOJ shall withhold 5 percent of prison-related grant
funding from any state that fails to certify that it has adopted, and is in full compliance with,
DOJ’s PREA standards or that fails to provide an assurance that not less than 5 percent of
the relevant grant funding shall be used to enable the state to adopt, and achieve full
compliance with, DOJ’s PREA standards toward future certification. See 42 U.S.C.
15607(c)(2). Under DOJ’s PREA rule, the state’s certification that it is in full compliance
with the PREA standards applies to all facilities under the operational control of the state’s
executive branch, including facilities operated by private entities on behalf of the state’s
executive branch. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.501. DOJ’s PREA rule therefore does not contain
noncompliance sanctions for county intergovernmental agreement facilities that fail to
adopt or implement DOJ’s PREA standards. See 77 Fed. Reg. at 37,115.

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renegotiate the contract or agreement. ICE detention program and
contracting officials also stated that, in general, the agency is prioritizing
modifications of contracts or agreements to first implement the 2011
PBNDS at facilities that exclusively house ICE detainees and that house
the greatest number of detainees—service processing centers, contract
detention facilities, and dedicated intergovernmental service agreement
facilities.
Table 8: Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Provisions Applicable to Immigration Detention
Facilities, as of August 2013

Facility type

Detention standards generally applicable to facility type, according to
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and
documentation

Average percentage of
detainee population, fiscal
a
years 2010-2012

Service processing
center

2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS). All service
processing centers have signed contract modifications adopting the 2011
PBNDS in full.

12

Contract detention
facility

2011 PBNDS. All contract detention facilities have signed contract
modifications adopting the 2011 PBNDS in full.

19

Dedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

2007 Family Residential Standards, 2008 PBNDS, or 2011 PBNDS. All but 2
of the dedicated intergovernmental service agreement facilities have signed
contract modifications specifically adopting the 2011 PBNDS SAAPI
b
provisions, but not the 2011 PBNDS pertaining to other topical areas.

22

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

2000 National Detention Standards, 2008 PBNDS, or 2011 PBNDS. In 2012,
ICE sent letters to the 53 nondedicated intergovernmental service agreement
facilities that house detainees for more than 72 hours and have average daily
populations of more than 10 detainees requesting that they sign contract
modifications to specifically adopt the 2011 PBNDS SAAPI provisions. As of
August 2013, 37 facilities had signed a modification.

34

Family residential

2007 Family Residential Standards

<1

U.S. Marshals Service U.S. Marshals Service intergovernmental agreement and contract facilities
intergovernmental
are not generally required to adhere to ICE SAAPI provisions. However,
agreement or contract these facilities are to adhere to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) final Prison
Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) rule.

14

Source: GAO analysis of ICE testimony and documentation.
a

Percentages do not sum to 100 because of rounding.

b

ICE classifies 1 of the 2 facilities that had not signed a contract modification as a family residential
facility, but it is considered a dedicated intergovernmental service agreement facility for the purpose
of this report because it was converted to a women-only facility in 2009 and no longer houses
families. The 2 facilities that had not signed a contract modification, but were governed by the SAAPI
provisions included in the 2007 Residential Standards or 2008 PBNDS, housed an average of 4
percent of the total detainee population from fiscal years 2010 through 2012.

ICE headquarters and ERO field office officials do not have consistent
and reliable information readily available on which detention standards—
and the SAAPI provisions they contain—apply to which individual

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facilities. OAQ contracting officials maintain information on the applicable
detention standards for ICE’s detention facilities, but this information was
not fully consistent with ICE contracts and agreements with those
facilities. OAQ headquarters officials provided us with a spreadsheet
listing their understanding of standards cited in ICE’s contracts and
agreements with detention facilities; however, when we reviewed
detention standards listed in this spreadsheet against the standards listed
in a sample of 20 facility contracts and agreements, the standards listed
in the spreadsheet were not consistent with the facility contracts and
agreements for almost half (9) of these facilities. 56 According to OAQ
officials, OAQ retains ICE contracts and agreements with detention
facilities in electronic files, but does not have a central system in which all
contract and agreement documentation is stored. OAQ officials explained
that in 2012 OAQ’s four regional divisions, each of which oversees
detention contracts and agreements for facilities in a different area within
the United States, manually reviewed ICE’s contracts and agreements
with its 251 facilities and recorded the detention standards cited in a
spreadsheet. OAQ reviewed and updated this spreadsheet to furnish us
with information on the standards cited in ICE’s contracts and agreements
with detention facilities, and according to OAQ officials, it may have
missed some changes that occurred since it initially developed the
spreadsheet. However, the standards in the contracts and agreements for
facilities for which inconsistent information was recorded did not change
within the last year. During the course of our audit work, OAQ officials
corrected the data inconsistencies we identified through our review of the
sample of 20 contracts and agreements; however, without checking its
data for the remaining 231 facilities, OAQ does not have reasonable
assurance that its data are consistent and reliable.
We also requested that ERO headquarters provide us with information
about the standards governing each detention facility, and found
discrepancies between facility contracts and agreements and ERO’s data.
In particular, ERO detention program officials provided us with the data
they maintain on detention standards—a listing of the detention standards
under which ERO inspects each facility—that they extracted from the

56

We selected this sample to include (1) facilities at which we conducted site visits and (2)
facilities for which ERO and OAQ information on facility standards differed.

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Facility Performance Management System. 57 However, the detention
standards cited for 8 of the same sample of 20 facilities for which we
reviewed contract and agreement documentation were inconsistent. We
also observed differences between information maintained by OAQ and
ERO, in that OAQ and ERO recorded different standards in their
spreadsheets or in information on facilities’ standards that they
subsequently provided for 10 facilities. 58 ERO headquarters officials
attributed one discrepancy between the contracts and agreements and
ERO’s data to an error in the Facility Performance Management
System—a relatively new system released in June 2012—that was in the
final stages of testing during our review.
In addition, ICE officials stated that ERO’s data reflect the standards
under which ERO inspects facilities rather than those cited in the facility
contracts or agreements, and that ERO performs inspections under
standards that are more rigorous than those cited in its contracts and
agreements with some facilities. In particular, according to ERO officials,
at facilities at which the 2000 NDS are cited in the contracts or
agreements, ERO field office officials responsible for overseeing the
facilities, or the administrators operating the facilities, may request that
inspections be completed under the 2008 PBNDS because they believe
the facilities are exceeding 2000 NDS requirements and want that
formally confirmed through inspections. In such instances, ERO generally
inspects the facilities under the more rigorous standards, according to
ERO officials. A senior ICE official responsible for detention policy
explained that ERO inspecting a facility under more rigorous standards
than those cited in the facility’s contract or agreement is acceptable with
agreement from the facility, and can be beneficial to ICE because it
permits the agency to hold facilities accountable for more rigorous
requirements. For example, by inspecting a facility with a contract that
cites the 2000 NDS under the 2008 PBNDS, ERO is able to hold the
facility accountable for SAAPI provisions that would not be required of the
facility if it were inspected under the 2000 NDS, which do not include
SAAPI provisions. In addition, this senior official stated that it can be more

57

The Facility Performance Management System is a database for identifying and
providing access to detention inspection information and facilitating the production and
maintenance of facility analytics and reporting.

58

We included the contracts for these 10 facilities in the sample of 20 contracts we
reviewed.

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efficient and cost-effective for ICE to ensure that facilities adhere to more
rigorous standards through the inspection process rather than modifying
the facilities’ contracts or agreements to include the more rigorous
standards because, for example, facilities may request to open
negotiations for the entire contract and request additional funding from
ICE.
At the field level, we observed that ICE field office and facility program
officials overseeing 5 of the 10 facilities we visited did not have reliable
information about the standards cited in their contracts or agreements
with ICE. In particular, ERO DSM and field office officials at 2 of the 10
facilities asserted that the facility’s contract or agreement cited the 2008
PBNDS when its contract cited the 2000 NDS. ERO field office officials at
3 additional facilities stated that the facility had signed a contract
modification adopting the 2011 PBNDS SAAPI provisions when it had not,
or vice versa. 59 ERO field office officials attributed these inconsistencies
to factors such as OAQ providing them with inaccurate information and
interpreting the language about detention standards included in the
contract differently from OAQ headquarters officials. 60
Inconsistent information about the detention standards cited in facilities’
contracts or agreements can affect facility owners’ and administrators’
understanding of their responsibilities to ICE and the information available
to decision makers and stakeholders regarding the standards applicable
to the facilities. Our review of ICE facility inspection reports from fiscal
years 2010 through 2013, which we discuss in more detail later in this
report, for the same sample of 20 facility contracts and agreements,
showed that there were at least 10 instances at 2 facilities in which ERO
or ICE’s ODO assessed compliance with the 2008 PBNDS, including the
SAAPI standard, when the facility was contractually bound to the 2000
NDS, which have no SAAPI standard. The administrators we spoke with

59

DSM and ERO field office officials at the other 5 facilities we visited had accurate
information about the standards to which the facilities they oversaw were contractually
bound.

60

Headquarters OAQ officials told us that when a contract or agreement states that the
facility must perform in accordance with the most current edition of ICE’s detention
standards, it means that facilities must comply with whatever the most current standards
were at the time the contract was signed; however, officials from one ERO field office
interpreted this language to require compliance with standards issued after the contract
was signed.

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at these 2 facilities were unaware that they were contractually required to
adhere to the 2000 NDS, not the 2008 PBNDS. According to ERO
officials, ERO has not established a process for documenting that a
facility administrator understands that the standards under which ERO is
inspecting the administrator’s facility exceed those required by the facility
contract or agreement, or the facility administrator’s consent to such an
inspection in these instances. Nevertheless, ERO may discuss the issue
and gain agreement with facility administrators by means such as
electronic mail, according to ERO officials. These officials also stated that
ERO can generally remove detainees from a facility if it does not comply
with the standards under which ERO inspects the facility, even if those
standards are more rigorous than those cited in the facilities’ contracts
and agreements, and thus it is not always imperative for inspection
purposes for ERO to modify its contracts and agreements with facilities to
incorporate the more rigorous standards.
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government calls for
agencies to develop control activities to help ensure that data are
accurately recorded and communicated to management and others within
the entity who need them and specifies that all transactions and other
significant events need to be clearly documented, and the documentation
should be readily available for examination. 61 Documenting and
maintaining reliable information on the detention standards cited in
facilities’ contracts and agreements with ICE, as well as recording any
agreements by facilities to undergo inspection under more rigorous
standards, could better position ICE headquarters officials, ERO field
office officials, facility administrators, and other stakeholders, such as
inspectors and auditors, to have a reliable and consistent understanding
of applicable facility detention standards.
Reliable information on the SAAPI provisions cited in facilities’ contracts
or agreements could also help ICE better plan for the resources and time
necessary to implement DHS’s PREA rule. According to DHS’s PREA
notice of proposed rulemaking, once the rule is finalized, DHS would
establish a process for requiring that all 126 detention facilities under an
ICE contract or agreement (family residential facilities, service processing
centers, contract detention facilities, ICE dedicated intergovernmental
service agreement facilities, and ICE nondedicated intergovernmental

61

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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service agreement facilities) comply with the final rule’s SAAPI
provisions. 62 In particular, according to the notice of proposed rulemaking,
the proposed provisions would be phased in through the inclusion in new
contracts and contract renewals of an obligation to adopt and comply with
the provisions set forth in the final rule. Accordingly, the SAAPI provisions
in the final rule would supersede the SAAPI provisions these 126 facilities
currently have in place under the 2007 Residential Standards, 2008
PBNDS, or 2011 PBNDS, as well as establish SAAPI provisions at those
facilities operating under the 2000 NDS that currently have no such
provisions. According to OAQ officials, incorporating the provisions
proposed in DHS’s PREA notice of proposed rulemaking will likely take
multiple years to complete. According to DHS, the department cannot be
certain how much, if any, of the costs associated with implementation it
will pay, as those costs will be determined through negotiation with
facilities. 63 These costs could include, for example, staff training,
providing detainees with access to outside confidential support services,
and documentation of cross-gender pat-downs. Reliable baseline
information about SAAPI provisions currently applicable to facilities, as
established in their contracts and agreements with ICE, could help ICE
estimate any costs associated with implementing the final DHS PREA
rule that the department might incur during contract negotiations, and
determine appropriate time frames for contract negotiations. Documenting
and maintaining reliable information on the detention standards applicable
to facilities across ICE components could better position ICE officials to
have accurate information to effectively plan for program operations, such
as the implementation of DHS’s final PREA rule.

62

DHS’s proposed standards would not apply to the 125 USMS intergovernmental
agreement facilities that house ICE detainees, which are governed by DOJ’s PREA rule.
63

See DHS, Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in
Confinement Facilities: Initial Regulatory Impact Analysis (2012).

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DHS Focused Its
Sexual Abuse and
Assault Oversight on
Facilities Housing
Most Detainees and
Found Most Facilities
Compliant with
Provisions
ICE Used Various
Oversight Methods to
Assess Compliance with
SAAPI Provisions at More
than Half of Facilities That
Housed About 90 Percent
of Detainees

During fiscal years 2010 through 2013, ICE provided oversight of its three
sets of SAAPI provisions at 157 of approximately 250 detention facilities
that housed about 90 percent of ICE detainees. ICE officials said that
they did not perform SAAPI oversight at the remaining facilities because
they inspected the facilities under the 2000 NDS, which do not have
SAAPI provisions. 64 In particular, ICE used four primary mechanisms for
assessing facilities’ compliance with SAAPI provisions: (1) annual
inspections conducted by an ERO contractor, (2) periodic inspections by
ODO personnel, (3) continuous ERO on-site monitoring provided by a
DSM, and (4) annual self-assessments by certain facilities that passed
two consecutive ERO inspections and met other requirements. 65
According to ICE officials responsible for facility oversight, these different
oversight methods complement each other and serve different purposes.
ERO inspections are to assess compliance with all standards across
facilities and, according to ERO officials, ERO generally focuses on
64

As previously discussed, ICE inspects certain facilities contractually bound to, or under
agreement with, the 2000 NDS under the 2008 PBNDS.

65

Specifically, ERO and ODO performed a total of 140 inspections at 42 facilities to
directly assess SAAPI compliance from fiscal years 2010 through 2013. Of these 140
inspections, 134 were performed using the 2008 PBNDS SAAPI provisions, 4 were
performed using the 2011 PBNDS SAAPI provisions, and 2 used the 2007 Family
Residential Standards SAAPI provisions. Certain facilities started performing annual
facility self-assessments in fiscal year 2012, and 93 facilities had completed selfassessments as of August 2013. In addition to passing two consecutive ERO inspections,
eligible facilities (1) house detainees for less than 72 hours, or (2) house an average daily
population of 10 detainees or fewer. ICE requires all facilities participating in the selfassessment program to comply with the 2011 SAAPI standard. According to ICE officials,
prior to fiscal year 2012, ICE inspected these facilities under the NDS, which do not have
a SAAPI standard.

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performing inspections at facilities that that house 10 or more detainees. 66
ODO conducts more limited, but in-depth inspections of certain standards
at facilities selected using a risk-based approach. 67 DSMs are to monitor
facility adherence to ICE’s detention standards on a day-to-day basis and
provide facilities with technical guidance, including for implementing
corrective action plans, as needed.
ICE used one or more oversight mechanisms to assess SAAPI
compliance at certain facilities ERO identified as subject to the 2007
Family Residential Standards or the 2008 or 2011 PBNDS. 68 In fiscal year
2012, for example, ICE assessed compliance with SAAPI provisions at 61
facilities and used at least two oversight mechanisms at 28 of the 61
facilities at which it assessed SAAPI compliance (46 percent). These 28
facilities housed about 55 percent of ICE detainees in fiscal year 2012, as
illustrated in figure 2. 69

66

These facilities also are to have a total of 60 or more man days, where a man day
constitutes one night spent by one detainee. About 130 of ICE’s approximately 250
detention facilities had an average daily detainee population of 10 or more detainees from
fiscal years 2010 through 2012.

67

According to ODO officials, ODO selects the facilities it inspects using a risk-based
model that uses deficiencies identified in ERO’s annual inspections, number and type of
allegations, average daily detention population, deficiencies identified in prior ODO
inspections, and date of last ODO inspection.
68

According to ICE officials, in some instances a facility will request or agree to be
inspected under a set of standards that is more rigorous than required by its contract or
agreement toward demonstrating that it is exceeding its required standards. Therefore, a
facility that is required by its contract or agreement to adhere to the 2000 NDS, which do
not include a SAAPI standard, may be inspected under the 2008 or 2011 PBNDS, which
include a SAAPI standard.

69

ICE did not assess SAAPI compliance through inspections or the DSM program at
facilities in the self-assessment program in fiscal year 2012.

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Figure 2: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Oversight Mechanisms
That Included Sexual Abuse and Assault Oversight by Detention Facilities and
Average Daily Detainee Population, Fiscal Year 2012

Note: According to ERO officials, DSMs may monitor the reporting process of sexual abuse and
assault allegations, regardless of inspection standards.

ICE Oversight Identified
SAAPI-Related
Deficiencies, but ERO
Inspections Were
Performed Inconsistently

ICE oversight of its three sets of SAAPI provisions from fiscal years 2010
through 2013 identified few deficiencies through ERO and ODO
inspections, and ERO officials provided one example of a SAAPI
deficiency identified through the DSM program. However, ERO’s review
of results from the first year of the self-assessment program identified
deficiencies with SAAPI provisions at over a third of facilities. In addition,
DOJ provides oversight related to preventing sexual abuse and assault at
facilities under agreement with USMS that house detainees.

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ERO Inspections

ERO identified few deficiencies in facility compliance with the 2008 or
2011 SAAPI provisions from fiscal years 2010 through 2013, and found 1
facility did not meet the overall 2011 SAAPI standard. 70 In particular, ERO
inspections identified deficiencies during 11 of 110 inspections (10
percent) at 39 facilities. Most deficiencies (7 of 11) were in SAAPI priority
provisions, such as the provision that staff be trained in required SAAPI
areas. 71 Table 9 summarizes the deficiencies identified by the inspections
ERO performed under the 2008 SAAPI provisions.

Table 9: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Inspection Results of the 2008 Performance-Based National Detention
Standards Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Provisions, Fiscal Years 2010 through 2013
Meets
standard

Does not
meet
standard

Not
applicable

For service processing centers and contract detention facilities, the written policy and
procedure has been approved by the ERO field office director.

50

3

55

For service processing centers and contract detention facilities, the Sexual Assault
a
Awareness Information brochure is available for detainees.

78

1

29

78

1

29

SAAPI standard provision
Applicable to contract detention facilities or service processing centers only

Applicable to all detention facilities and related to sexual abuse and assault allegations
Tracking statistics and reports are readily available for review by the inspectors.

70

Our analysis included inspection reports available as of September 23, 2013. At that
time, all but 2 inspection reports scheduled for fiscal year 2013 were available for our
review. During this time period, ERO contractors performed nearly all inspections under
the 2008 PBNDS (108 inspections at 39 facilities) and a few inspections under the 2011
PBNDS (2 inspections at 2 facilities). ERO did not perform any inspections under the 2007
Family Residential Standards during this time period. See appendix VII for the SAAPI
provisions that constitute the overall SAAPI standard under the 2008 PBNDS and the
2011 PBNDS.
71

According to ODPP officials, in March 2013 an ICE working group—composed of
representatives from ERO, ODPP, and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties,
among others—determined priority provisions within the 2008 and 2011 PBNDS. ICE
considers these priority provisions to be of most critical importance within each detention
standard based on significance to issues such as health and life safety, facility security,
detainee rights, and quality of life in detention. See appendix VII for the SAAPI standard
provisions ICE identified as priorities under the 2008 and 2011 PBNDS. ICE officials said
that they may remove detainees from, or withhold payment to, a facility that fails to meet
one of its priority standard provisions. These officials also said that ICE has not removed
detainees or withheld payment based on SAAPI standard deficiencies.

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Meets
standard

Does not
meet
standard

Not
applicable

All records associated with claims of sexual abuse or assault are maintained, and such
incidents are specifically logged and tracked by a designated staff coordinator.

104

0

4

When there is an alleged sexual assault, staff conduct a thorough investigation, gather
and maintain evidence, and make referrals to appropriate law enforcement agencies for
possible prosecution.

106

0

2

Victims of sexual abuse or assault are referred to specialized community resources for
treatment and gathering of evidence.

106

1

1

PRIORITY: There is prompt and effective intervention when any detainee is sexually
abused or assaulted and there are policy and procedures for required chain-of-command
reporting.

106

1

1

PRIORITY: When there is an alleged or proven sexual assault, the required notifications
to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), facility management, and the
appropriate law enforcement agency are promptly made.

107

0

1

PRIORITY: All staff are trained, during orientation and in annual refresher training, in the
prevention and intervention areas required by the SAAPI detention standard.

106

2

0

PRIORITY: Detainees are screened upon arrival for “high-risk” sexual assaultive and
sexual victimization potential and housed and counseled accordingly. Detainees who are
likely to become victims will be placed in the least restrictive housing that is available and
appropriate.

106

2

0

PRIORITY: Detainees are informed about the program in facility orientation and the
detainee handbook (or equivalent)

107

1

0

PRIORITY: The facility has a SAAPI program that includes, at a minimum:
•
measures to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault,
•
Policy and procedures for required chain-of-command reporting to the highest facility
official and the ICE field office director,
•
measures for prompt and effective intervention to address the safety and treatment
needs of detainee victims if an assault occurs, and
•
investigation of incidents of sexual assault, and discipline assailants.

107

1

0

108

0

0

SAAPI standard provision

Applicable to all detention facilities and otherwise related to sexual abuse and assault

b

The Sexual Assault Awareness Notice is posted on all housing unit bulletin boards.
Source: GAO analysis of ERO inspection reports.

Notes: Inspectors assessed the two provisions applicable only to contract detention facilities and
service processing centers at 9 of 63 and 35 of 63 intergovernmental service agreement facilities,
respectively, and did not assess them at one contract detention facility. Inspectors did not assess a
facility to not meet the same SAAPI provision more than once during this time frame. One inspection
determined that the facility did not meet multiple provisions.
a

ICE’s Sexual Assault Awareness Information brochure contains information on sexual abuse and
assault definitions, avoiding sexual assault, and what to do if assaulted, among other things.

b

The Sexual Assault Awareness Notice contains contact information for reporting sexual abuse and
assault to a facility staff member, ICE officials, ICE’s Community and Detainee Helpline, and ICE’s
Joint Intake Center.

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In addition, of the 2 facilities inspected under the 2011 SAAPI provisions,
1 met all SAAPI provisions and 1 did not meet the overall SAAPI
standard. ERO officials responsible for inspections explained that one
way in which facilities do not meet an overall detention standard is if they
do not meet three priority provisions within the standard. 72 The facility that
did not meet the overall SAAPI standard did not meet 12 of the 21
applicable 2011 SAAPI provisions, including 6 priority provisions. 73 (See
app. VII for all 2011 SAAPI provisions.) Our review of ERO corrective
action plans showed that corrective actions were taken at 9 of the 11
facilities to address the SAAPI deficiencies the inspections identified in a
manner consistent with ICE requirements. 74 ERO officials explained that
they did not know why 1 facility did not take corrective actions within the
required time frame to address these deficiencies, and that another
facility did not do so because the facility and ERO determined that the
2011 PBNDS were too onerous for the size of the facility, facility
resources, and ICE population housed at the facility, and that ERO would
conduct a 90-day follow-up inspection under the 2008 PBNDS.
Our further review of 110 ERO inspection reports—108 assessing
compliance with the 2008 SAAPI provisions and 2 with the 2011 SAAPI
provisions—documenting performance at 39 facilities from fiscal years
2010 through 2013 showed that some inspection teams did not assess all
appropriate 2008 SAAPI standard provisions, providing inconsistent
information for detention oversight. In these inspection reports, inspectors
are to use a worksheet specific to either the 2008 PBNDS or the 2011
PBNDS to document if a facility meets or does not meet each SAAPI
standard provision, as well as if the provision does not apply to the

72

In addition, according to ERO officials, inspectors may determine that a facility did not
meet the overall SAAPI standard if the facility fails numerous nonpriority SAAPI
provisions.

73

ERO conducted this inspection in February 2013 as a preoccupancy inspection, at
which time there were no ICE detainees at the facility. Since that time, this facility has
housed an average of 2 detainees daily.

74

According to ERO officials, starting in December 2010, ERO required the relevant ERO
field office to take and report corrective actions identified by ERO or ODO inspections
within 5 days for a deficiency in a priority standard, or 55 days for other deficiencies.

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facility. 75 (See app. VII for a comparison of the 2008 and 2011 PBNDS
SAAPI inspection worksheets.) We found that inspectors did not assess
or collect information for all the 2008 SAAPI provisions at facilities where
no sexual abuse or assault allegations were made during the time period
under review; rather, the inspectors recorded that these provisions did not
apply. In particular, inspectors did not assess during 29 of 108
inspections (27 percent) whether facilities met the provision to have
sexual abuse statistics and reports readily available for review by
inspectors and inspectors did not assess whether 4 facilities met the
provision to maintain all records associated with claims of sexual abuse
or assault. ERO officials said that inspectors should evaluate all SAAPI
standard provisions at all inspected facilities, even if no sexual abuse or
assault allegations were made; for example an inspector could still verify
that the facility has a framework for tracking statistics, should allegations
occur. ERO officials said that they orally communicated this expectation
to the inspections contractor in March 2012. 76
However, our review of inspections conducted after March 2012 found
that inspectors continued to not assess or collect information for all
applicable 2008 SAAPI standard provisions. Specifically, 4 of 43
inspections conducted from March 2012 through September 2013 did not
assess or collect information for all applicable 2008 SAAPI standard
provisions, including the provision to have sexual abuse statistics and
reports readily available for review by inspectors (2 of 4), among others.
Contractor representatives responsible for inspection oversight stated that
they may not have assessed all 2008 SAAPI provisions because of
inspector error. ERO officials responsible for inspection oversight stated
that ERO has processes in place to ensure that contracted inspectors
consistently inspect all SAAPI provisions, such as ERO field office
personnel reviewing inspection results and system controls that assign a
detention standard rating based on checkmarks in each provision.
However, these processes would not identify instances when inspectors

75

These worksheets vary according to detention standards. For example, the 2008 SAAPI
standard worksheet contains 13 provisions, and the 2011 SAAPI standard worksheet
contains 22 standard provisions. In addition, the inspectors can include remarks for every
provision, regardless of whether the provision met the standard, did not meet the
standard, or was not applicable.

76

That is, with the exception of two SAAPI provisions that apply only to service processing
centers and contract detention facilities highlighted in table 9, which are unrelated to the
inconsistency we observed.

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inaccurately determined that a SAAPI provision did not apply, and thus
did not assess or collect information about the facility’s ability to meet the
provision. Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government
states that management should ensure there are adequate means of
obtaining information from external stakeholders, such as contracted
inspectors, that may have a significant impact on the agency achieving its
goals. 77 Given that ERO performs the majority of SAAPI inspections
under the 2008 PBNDS—27 of 29 in fiscal year 2013—incomplete
assessment of these provisions can result in ERO having incomplete
information about the extent to which facilities are prepared to maintain
sexual abuse and assault allegation records, should such incidents occur.
Developing a process to monitor the results of ERO inspections
conducted under the 2008 SAAPI standard to ensure consistency across
and completeness in how the inspections are performed, and addressing
any inconsistencies, could help ensure that ERO management has
complete information about relative SAAPI compliance across facilities.

ODO Inspections

ODO identified some deficiencies in facility compliance with ICE’s three
sets of SAAPI standards during fiscal years 2010 through 2013. 78 In
particular, ODO identified SAAPI deficiencies during 7 of 30 inspections
(23 percent) at 28 facilities. 79 Similar to ERO inspection results, ODO
inspection results identified deficiencies in priority provisions, such as the
provision that staff be trained in required SAAPI areas (3 facilities). In
addition, facilities did not meet SAAPI provisions to maintain separate
general and investigative files for cases of sexual abuse or assault (2
facilities), specify that chain-of-command reporting sexual abuse and
assault allegations includes reporting to ICE (1 facility), or use a
coordinated, multidisciplinary team approach to respond to sexual abuse
(1 facility). ODO officials stated that they have not identified any trends
among facilities with deficient SAAPI provisions. Our review of corrective
action plans showed that corrective actions were taken at 6 of 7 facilities,

77

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

78

Our analysis included inspection reports available as of August 13, 2013. At that time, all
but 3 inspection reports scheduled for fiscal year 2013 were available for our review. ODO
inspectors do not use the inspection checklist ERO inspectors use or assess if a facility
has overall met or not met a standard. Instead, ODO inspectors review the conditions at a
facility against the SAAPI standard text to identify deficiencies. As a result, we did not
quantify unmet components of the SAAPI standard found by ODO inspections.
79

ODO performed 4 of these inspections under the 2008 PBNDS, 2 under the 2007 Family
Residential Standards, and 1 under the 2011 PBNDS.

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and that another facility had received an extension from ICE to do so as
of September 2013.

DSMs and Self-assessments

ERO officials provided an example of one deficiency in facility compliance
with ICE’s three sets of SAAPI provisions identified through DSM
oversight, and ERO officials said their review of facility self-assessment
results identified deficiencies in the SAAPI provisions at more than a third
of facilities. In regard to the DSM program, ERO officials said they
received weekly reports from DSMs who performed on-site oversight at
approximately 50 facilities during fiscal years 2010 through 2013. ERO
officials provided one example of a SAAPI-related deficiency identified
through a DSM weekly report. 80 In this instance, a DSM determined that a
facility was not in compliance with staff training requirements, including
SAAPI-related requirements. In regard to the self-assessment program,
ERO officials reported in September 2013 that they reviewed inspection
results from the 93 facilities, which collectively housed less than 1 percent
of ICE’s detainee population during fiscal years 2010 through 2012, and
that the inspection results identified deficiencies in compliance with at
least one SAAPI provision or with the overall SAAPI standard at 39
facilities. The self-assessment program policy guidelines require that
facilities include corrective action plans for any deficiencies that the
facility did not correct at the time of the assessment in their results.
According to ERO officials, the 39 facilities included corrective actions to
address the SAAPI deficiencies they identified in their assessments, and
as of September 2013, had completed or were in the process of
implementing the actions. 81

80

We did not independently review DSM weekly reports to determine the frequency with
which DSMs identified SAAPI-related deficiencies.

81

We did not review the self-assessment inspection results or corrective actions because
ERO was in the process of collecting facility self-assessment results for the first year of
the self-assessment program during our audit work.

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USMS Inspections

In August 2013, DOJ-certified auditors were to conduct audits of facilities
subject to the DOJ PREA rule, including the 125 facilities that are under
agreement with USMS and house ICE detainees. 82 In particular, DOJ’s
PREA rule requires that the agencies managing these facilities ensure
that the facilities undergo triennial PREA audits, and that agencies
publish final PREA audit reports on their websites, or make these reports
otherwise publicly available. 83 Following finalization of DOJ’s PREA rule,
USMS added a question to its annual inspection checklist concerning the
extent to which the facility is compliant with all applicable PREA
standards. USMS officials responsible for prisoner operations explained
that they plan to use results of these triennial PREA audit reports to
determine facility compliance with PREA per the USMS annual inspection
checklist. 84 ERO officials responsible for detention oversight stated that
as the DOJ PREA audits are fairly recent, they have not yet determined to
what extent, if any, they will use the DOJ audit results to inform ICE’s
oversight of SAAPI provisions at USMS facilities that house ICE
detainees.

82

In addition to oversight performed by ICE and DOJ, the American Correctional
Association is also to monitor select ICE facilities according to its own SAAPI detention
standards for the purpose of providing facility accreditation. ICE officials stated that while
the ICE detention standards were based on American Correctional Association standards,
ICE does not request American Correctional Association inspection results because, as
American Correctional Association officials told us, these results are considered
proprietary. ICE officials further stated that ICE recognizes value in facilities maintaining
American Correctional Association and other accreditations, but ICE standards are
tailored to meet the unique needs of its immigrant population, and ICE relies on its own
standards as the best measure of whether facilities are providing appropriate conditions of
confinement. ERO performed SAAPI oversight at about half of these facilities (68 of 125)
through inspections, self-assessments, or on-site monitoring through the DSM program.
According to ERO officials, the remaining 57 facilities are inspected under the NDS, which
do not include SAAPI provisions.

83
28 C.F.R. §§ 115.401(a), 115.403(f). The DOJ PREA rule defines an agency as the unit
of a state, local, corporate, or nonprofit authority, or of DOJ, with direct responsibility for
the operation of any facility that confines inmates, detainees, or residents, including the
implementation of policy as set by the governing, corporate, or nonprofit authority. See 28
C.F.R. § 115.5.
84

Prior to October 2012, USMS did not collect SAAPI-related information through its
inspection process.

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ICE Plans to Increase Onsite Monitoring at Select
Facilities and Selfassessments at Others

ERO plans to increase oversight at some facilities and the use of selfassessments at other facilities, based on relative average daily detainee
populations and success in past inspections, with an attendant benefit of
potentially achieving cost savings for detention management. Moving
forward, ERO officials said they plan to expand use of DSMs to an
additional 22 facilities, targeting those facilities that house a relatively
large proportion of ICE detainees. 85 ERO officials responsible for the
DSM program stated that DSMs directly contribute to ICE cost savings
because, by better ensuring facility compliance with detention standards,
they prevent ICE from potentially incurring future costs. 86 According to
ERO officials, in January 2013, ICE planned to increase its use of selfassessments at other facilities that have relatively low average daily
populations, house detainees for more than 72 hours, and that passed
ICE inspections in the past 2 years. 87 ERO will assess compliance at
these facilities biennially instead of annually, and these facilities will be
required to complete self-assessments the year that ERO does not
inspect them. For example, ERO officials stated that facilities eligible for
biennial inspections in January 2013 will then complete a self-assessment
in 2014. As of August 2013, in addition to the 93 facilities that completed
annual self-assessments, ICE approved 36 facilities for biennial
inspections. According to ERO officials responsible for oversight, ICE
largely discontinued annual inspections at facilities that house detainees
for less than 72 hours and implemented biennial inspections at other
facilities in an effort to lower detention costs. In addition, officials
explained that using self-assessments as an oversight mechanism is
considered low risk because these facilities house detainees for a
relatively short period of time.

85

As of August 2013, ERO officials said they have not decided in which facilities ERO will
place these 22 DSMs, and thus could not determine how the additional DSMs would
increase the average detainee daily population monitored by DSMs.

86

ERO officials responsible for the DSM program explained that these cost savings could
be related to detention areas other than SAAPI. For example, a DSM that ensures a
facility’s medical unit examines sick detainees on a timely basis could curtail future
detainee health care costs. In addition, these officials stated that it would be difficult to
estimate the extent to which DSM oversight has contributed to ICE cost savings because
it is challenging to quantify the future costs DSMs have saved through their preventive
actions.

87

Specifically, facilities selected for biennial inspections must house an average daily
population of greater than10 detainees but fewer than 50 detainees for more than 72
hours.

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Further changes to DHS oversight of SAAPI compliance at detention
facilities may occur in the course of implementing DHS’s final PREA rule.
For example, the DHS PREA notice of proposed rulemaking would
provide for facility audits on a triennial cycle, in addition to ICE’s current
annual and biennial inspection schedule. 88 In addition, the notice of
proposed rulemaking would require that ICE publish final inspection
reports on its website, or make them otherwise readily available to the
public.

Conclusions

ICE has taken action to strengthen sexual abuse and assault prevention
and intervention at its detention facilities; however, some improvements
could further strengthen ICE management of its detention program in this
regard. For example, to assess and ensure the safety and security of
detainees, it is important that ICE detention management programs have
complete and accurate information with which to assess program results
and take corrective action, as necessary. By developing and
implementing additional internal controls to ensure reporting of sexual
abuse and assault allegations by ERO field offices, ICE could better
ensure the completeness of JICMS sexual abuse data and thereby
strengthen these data’s usefulness for making detention management
decisions and meeting program management goals. In addition, by
clarifying guidance to help ensure that ICE and facility administrators
correctly document investigations into sexual abuse and assault
allegations, ICE could better ensure the completeness of facility files for
SAAPI program management purposes and better position ICE and
facility administrators to comply with the provisions of the DHS notice of
proposed rulemaking. ICE also has opportunities to better ensure the
quality of information available to its managers for SAAPI program
planning and improve its oversight of existing SAAPI provisions. In
particular, by documenting and maintaining reliable information on the
detention standards cited in facilities’ contracts and agreements, as well
as recording any agreements by facilities to undergo inspection under
more rigorous standards, ICE could better ensure that ICE officials,
facility administrators, and other stakeholders have a reliable and
consistent understanding of facility detention standards and plan for the
resources and time necessary to implement DHS’s PREA notice of

88

DHS may expedite inspection in the event that it believes that a particular facility may be
experiencing sexual abuse and assault problems.

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proposed rulemaking. In addition, developing a process to monitor the
results of ERO inspections conducted under the 2008 SAAPI standard to
ensure consistency across and completeness in how the inspections are
performed, and addressing any inconsistencies, could help ensure that
ERO management has complete information about relative and actual
SAAPI compliance across facilities. Further, OIG and ERO coordination
to ensure that the OIG has access to OIG hotline connectivity data, could
better ensure that the OIG has information it needs to identify and
address any technical issues detainees face in trying to reaching the
hotline.

Recommendations for
Executive Action

To ensure that ICE has complete and accurate information needed for
SAAPI program decision making and planning, we recommend that the
Director of ICE take the following four actions:
•

•
•

•

develop and implement additional internal controls to ensure ERO
field offices’ reporting of allegations of sexual abuse and assault to the
Joint Intake Center;
clarify guidance for ICE and facility administrators on how to correctly
document investigations into sexual abuse and assault allegations;
document and maintain reliable information on the detention
standards cited in facilities’ contracts and agreements, and record any
agreements by facilities to undergo inspection under more rigorous
standards; and
develop a process to monitor the results of ERO annual inspections
conducted under the 2008 SAAPI standard to ensure consistency
across the inspections and completeness in how the inspections are
performed, and address any inconsistencies.

In addition, to ensure that the DHS OIG has information for identifying
and addressing any technical problems detainees face in reaching the
OIG hotline, we recommend that the Director of ICE and the DHS Deputy
Inspector General coordinate OIG access to OIG hotline connectivity
data.

Agency Comments
and Our Evaluation

We provided a draft of this report to DHS and DOJ for their review and
comment. DHS provided written comments, which are reproduced in
appendix VIII, and DOJ did not provide written comments. In its
comments, DHS concurred with the five recommendations and described
actions under way or planned to address them by April 30, 2014. DHS
and DOJ provided technical comments, which we incorporated as
appropriate.

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With regard to the first recommendation, that ICE develop and implement
additional internal controls to ensure field offices’ reporting of sexual
abuse and assault allegations to the Joint Intake Center, DHS concurred
and stated that ICE has taken action, and plans to take additional action,
to better ensure ERO field offices’ reporting of such allegations.
Specifically, DHS stated that ICE issued a directive and developed
guidance and training materials to enhance field office reporting of sexual
abuse and assault allegations, as discussed in our report, and would take
further steps to issue supplemental guidance. Further, DHS noted that
ODO compares system data with field office records during visits, which it
completes at a sample of facilities, to assess compliance with reporting
requirements, and stated that future ICE quarterly reports to agency
leadership will include any identified reporting discrepancies. These
actions to educate and train staff and inform agency leadership of
compliance with reporting requirements are positive steps, but to be fully
responsive to the intent of our recommendation, we encourage DHS to
develop and implement additional controls to assess compliance with
reporting requirements across detention facilities, such as additional
controls to help better ensure that ERO field office officials are reporting
sexual abuse and assault allegations in accordance with ICE's directive.
In addition, DHS noted that ERO field office officials at facilities we visited
had reported two of the three allegations we reported as missing from ICE
headquarters’ information system; however, in its technical comments,
DHS clarified that officials did not report these two allegations in
accordance with protocols established in ICE’s directive. We updated our
final report to include this information.
With regard to the second recommendation, that ICE clarify guidance on
how to correctly document investigations into sexual abuse and assault
allegations, DHS concurred and noted the importance of completely
documenting investigations of sexual abuse and assault allegations and
described actions that ICE has taken and plans to take to clarify these
requirements. Specifically, DHS stated that ICE plans to issue a
broadcast message to all field offices providing detailed guidance to be
disseminated and posted in all facilities. The department also noted that
the facility files we reviewed included files for cases that originated in
fiscal years 2010 through 2012, and that the number of facilities that have
adopted detention standards that articulate specific requirements for
facilities to maintain investigative files for sexual abuse allegations—the
2007 Residential Standards, 2008 PBNDS, and 2011 PBNDS—have
increased since that time. However, as described in the report, while
additional facilities may have moved to adopt these detention standards,
four of the eight facilities at which we identified deficiencies in the

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investigative files were already governed by these standards at the time
the allegations associated with the files were made. Accordingly, if fully
implemented, ICE’s planned action to distribute detailed guidance should
help address the intent of the recommendation to better ensure the
completeness of facility investigative files.
With regard to the third recommendation, that ICE document and
maintain reliable information on the detention standards cited in facilities’
contracts and agreements, DHS concurred and cited action it was taking
to document and maintain reliable information, and record any
agreements by facilities to undergo inspection under more rigorous
standards. While DHS noted that deficiencies in record keeping did not
affect ICE’s efforts to safeguard detainees, DHS stated that it recognized
the importance of thorough record keeping and that it is in the process of
modifying its Facility Performance Management System to report data on
both the standards that contractually govern a facility and the standards
that a facility has voluntarily agreed to adopt for inspection purposes, and
that ERO and OAQ will jointly review this list on a quarterly basis to
ensure information on both categories is current and accurate. If fully
implemented, these actions should address the intent of the
recommendation and better position ICE headquarters officials, ERO field
office officials, facility administrators, and other stakeholders to have a
reliable and consistent understanding of applicable facility detention
standards.
With regard to the fourth recommendation, that ICE develop a process to
monitor the results of ERO annual inspections conducted under the 2008
SAAPI standard, DHS concurred and stated that the department will
make every effort to ensure utilization of a uniform inspections protocol,
including action to clarify expectations with inspectors and conduct
monthly meetings with the inspection contractor to reinforce expectations.
To assess the extent to which the contractor meets these expectations
and to meet the intent of the recommendation, we encourage
departmental efforts to develop a process to monitor the results of facility
inspections and address any inconsistencies in how inspections are
performed.
With regard to the fifth recommendation, that ICE and the DHS OIG
coordinate access to hotline connectively data, DHS concurred and
stated that the Director of ICE would immediately begin to provide the
DHS Deputy Inspector General with information on OIG hotline
connectivity exceptions, as appropriate. If implemented as planned, this
action should help address the intent of the recommendation to ensure

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that the DHS OIG has information for identifying and addressing any
technical problems detainees face in reporting sexual abuse allegations.
We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney
General of the United States, and other interested parties. In addition, the
report is available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.
If you or your staff have any questions, please contact me at
(202) 512-8777 or gamblerr@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page
of this report. GAO staff who made significant contributions to this report
are listed in appendix IX.

Rebecca Gambler
Director
Homeland Security and Justice

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List of Requesters
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives
The Honorable Robert Brady
The Honorable Judy Chu
The Honorable Yvette Clarke
The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez
The Honorable Janice Hahn
The Honorable Alcee Hastings
The Honorable Michael Honda
The Honorable Barbara Lee
The Honorable John Lewis
The Honorable Carolyn Maloney
The Honorable George Miller
The Honorable Gwen Moore
The Honorable James Moran
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
The Honorable Jared Polis
The Honorable Mike Quigley
The Honorable Charles Rangel
The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
The Honorable Loretta Sanchez
The Honorable Jose Serrano
The Honorable Nydia Velazquez
The Honorable Henry Waxman
House of Representatives

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

This report addresses the following three questions:
(1) What do Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data show about
sexual abuse and assault in immigration detention facilities, and how are
these data used for detention management?
(2) To what extent has DHS included provisions for addressing sexual
abuse and assault in its immigration detention standards?
(3) To what extent has DHS assessed facility administrator compliance
with these provisions and what were the results of DHS’s assessments?
For this report, we assessed DHS’s efforts to mitigate sexual abuse and
assault in immigration detention facilities that house U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees. DHS defines an immigration
detention facility as a confinement facility operated by or affiliated with
ICE that routinely holds persons for over 24 hours. We did not include
other types of facilities, such as holding facilities and prisons that
temporarily house detainees waiting for ICE transfer to detention facilities.
We also excluded the three federal prisons where ICE has detention bed
space because two house few detainees and use of the third prison for
detention was to be discontinued by the end of calendar year 2013,
according to Bureau of Prisons and ICE officials. We also did not include
facilities for juveniles that are regulated by the Department of Health and
Human Services.
To address our questions, we visited a nonprobability sample of 10
detention facilities in California, Florida, Texas, and Washington. We
selected these facilities based on a mix of factors, such as differences in
geographical location, detainee population, facility type, detention
standards governing the facility, length of time the facility may hold
detainees, and recommendations made by DHS and organizations that
work with immigration detainees. 1 We collected and reviewed
investigative files for all 70 sexual abuse and assault allegations occurring
from fiscal years 2010 through fiscal year 2012 maintained at the 10
facilities we visited and assessed their completeness and the extent to
which they are useful for detention management against ICE

1

We did not use the number of sexual abuse allegations at a facility as part of our
selection criteria because a high number of allegations could represent either (1) an
increased risk of abuse to detainees or (2) increased reporting at a facility.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

requirements and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government. 2 Of these files, we selected investigative files for a
nonprobability sample of 15 allegations for more in-depth analysis, to
include allegations from each facility and allegations against staff
members and allegations against detainees. The results of our more indepth analysis are not generalizable to all investigative files, but provided
helpful insights into investigative file completeness. We interviewed ICE
Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field office officials, ERO
detention service managers (DSM), facility administrators, and medical
personnel regarding sexual abuse and assault prevention and
intervention (SAAPI) policies and procedures in place at the facility. We
also interviewed 18 guards at 9 of these facilities to understand how
these policies and procedures are practiced. 3 Moreover, we interviewed a
nonprobability sample of 53 detainees to gain an understanding of
detainees’ knowledge of policies relevant to SAAPI, such as how to report
sexual abuse or assault. We selected approximately 6 detainees from
each of the 9 facilities. 4 We selected detainees based on gender, age,
country of origin, and number of days in ICE custody. Detainees speak
various languages, and some detainees are not proficient in English.
Toward including such detainees in our sample, we interviewed 19
detainees at 5 facilities in Spanish, but did not interview detainees who
were not proficient in English or Spanish. In addition, we conducted
physical observations to observe facility implementation of SAAPI
provisions, such as posting required information. The information we
obtained from our facility visits cannot be generalized to all facilities,
guards, or detainees but offers insight into the overall range of SAAPI
implementation across detention facilities. In advance of each site visit,
we interviewed a local immigrant advocacy organization to gain its
perspective on ICE’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual abuse and
assault at the facility and the extent to which sexual abuse and assault in
detention may be over- or underreported and why. We identified these
local organizations through recommendations provided by two national
advocacy organizations—the American Civil Liberties Union and the

2

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

3
When possible, we selected the guards to include one female and one male guard at
each facility. Guards at one facility elected not to speak with us at the recommendation of
their union, which was concerned that information guards shared with us could be used by
facility management to negatively assess guard performance.
4

The 10th facility did not have any detainees in its custody during our visit.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

National Immigrant Justice Center. In instances when the national
organizations suggested that we speak with more than one local
organization, we invited representatives from all of the local organizations
to meet with us. While not generalizable, this sample of organizations
provided us with helpful insights into the perspectives of local advocacy
organizations.
To determine what DHS data show about sexual abuse and assault in
detention facilities and how they are used for detention management, we
reviewed closing reports summarizing the allegation and investigative
steps and outcomes for all 215 sexual abuse and assault allegations
reported to ICE from October 2009 through March 2013 and tracked in
ICE Office of Professional Responsibility’s (OPR) Joint Integrity Case
Management System (JICMS)—the primary system ICE uses to track
sexual assault and abuse allegations. 5 We analyzed this information to
determine the characteristics of these allegations and how they were
reported. We also met with agency officials from ICE offices and other
DHS components with responsibilities related to collecting and using data
on sexual abuse and assault in detention facilities including (1) ICE OPR,
which tracks and investigates sexual abuse allegations; (2) ICE Office of
Detention Policy and Planning (ODPP), which develops policies and
standards to address sexual abuse in detention facilities; (3) the DHS
Office of Inspector General (OIG), which investigates misconduct
involving DHS and contractor employees and operates a hotline through
which detainees can report complaints regarding misconduct in detention
facilities, including sexual abuse and assault; and (4) the DHS Office for
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is responsible for identifying policy
gaps that can contribute to sexual abuse. To assess the reliability of the
JICMS data, we compared the allegations contained in JICMS, which
according to ICE officials, is to include all reported sexual abuse and
assault allegations, with information from other sources, including
allegations documented by the 10 facilities we visited. Further, we
interviewed knowledgeable OPR officials about the completeness and
reliability of JICMS data and controls in place for these data, and

5

We selected October 2009 because, according to ICE officials, data prior to fiscal year
2010 do not include sexual abuse and assault allegations against detainees. According to
ICE OPR, it did not collect this information in JICMS prior to fiscal year 2010 because the
office was focused on employee and contractor misconduct, in accordance with its
mission. We selected March 2013 because OPR had completed most investigations into
allegations made through then at the time of our review.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

assessed our findings against ICE requirements and Standards for
Internal Control in the Federal Government. 6 We determined that the data
within JICMS were sufficiently reliable for the purpose of presenting the
type and outcome of sexual abuse and assault allegations in JICMS, but
we found limitations with the information about the number of reported
sexual abuse allegations, which we discuss in the report. To assess
barriers to detainees reporting sexual abuse, we interviewed
knowledgeable ICE officials regarding the extent to which sexual abuse
may be over- or underreported, and reviewed relevant documentation
from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics. We
also conducted limited testing of reporting mechanisms at each of the
facilities we visited by placing calls to ICE hotlines from 19 telephones in
detainee housing areas at 10 facilities, among other things. We generally
tested a telephone in two living area pods at each facility we visited by
dialing the OIG hotline, ICE Community and Detainee Helpline, and the
ICE Joint Intake Center hotline. In addition, we collected and analyzed
telephone connectivity data from ERO to determine the extent to which
detainee calls placed to the OIG hotline from fiscal years 2010 through
2012 using ICE’s telephone contractor or its pro bono telephone platform
were successfully connected. 7 We also interviewed ERO and OIG
officials about how they use these data and assessed our findings against
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. 8 We assessed
the reliability of these data by interviewing ERO officials and contractor
personnel familiar with the processes used to collect, record, and analyze
the data, and determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the
purposes of our report. We identified and analyzed DHS and ICE policies
related to sexual abuse and assault reporting requirements and plans for
using sexual abuse data for detention management. Finally, we assessed
the completeness of documentation in 15 sexual abuse and assault
investigative files maintained at the 10 facilities we visited against ICE

6

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

7

ERO officials explained that ICE contracts with one telephone company to provide full
telephone service for detainees at 18 of its 251 detention facilities. In addition, about 191
ICE intergovernmental service agreement facilities use this telephone company’s
nationwide pro bono platform, which enables detainees to place calls at no charge to
certain numbers, including the OIG hotline, among others.
8

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

requirements and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government. 9
To determine the extent to which DHS detention standards include SAAPI
provisions, we reviewed sexual abuse and assault standards and policies
developed by ICE’s ODPP, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, and ICE
Health Service Corps currently applicable to, or proposed for, ICE
detention facilities. In particular, to establish the relative protections these
standards afford detainees, we compared the
2000 National Detention Standards (NDS),
2007 Family Residential Standards,
2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS),
2011 PBNDS, and
DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking on the Prison Rape and
Elimination Act (PREA). 10

•
•
•
•
•

Moreover, we compared DHS’s 2011 PBNDS and PREA notice of
proposed rulemaking with recommendations for immigration detention
centers that the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC)
made in 2009, and interviewed seven of eight former NPREC members to
obtain their perspectives on how the extent to which DHS incorporated
NPREC’s recommendations will affect the effectiveness of DHS’s SAAPI
efforts. 11 We also interviewed DHS Office of the Principal Legal Advisor
and ODPP officials about the department’s reasons for incorporating or
not incorporating particular NPREC recommendations in the 2011
PBNDS. 12 In addition, we interviewed representatives from national
organizations and associations involved in immigration detention
advocacy to obtain their perspectives on DHS’s PREA notice of proposed
rulemaking. In particular, we spoke with the American Civil Liberties
Union, American Bar Association, National Immigrant Justice Center, and

9

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

10

Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in
Confinement Facilities, 77 Fed. Reg. 75,300 (Dec. 19, 2012).

11

The other commissioner was not available for comment.

12

We did not interview DHS officials about the reasons for incorporating or not
incorporating particular NPREC recommendations in DHS’s proposed PREA rule because
it is in proposed form and subject to change based on public comments received by the
department.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

Just Detention International. We selected these organizations and
associations based on their involvement with SAAPI-related immigration
detention issues and contributions to the development of national
detention standards. While not generalizable, this sample provided us
with helpful insights into the perspectives of national advocacy
organizations. In addition, we compared DHS’s PREA notice of proposed
rulemaking and DOJ’s final PREA rule to determine differences, if any, in
sexual abuse and assault provisions they include. To determine which
sexual abuse and assault standards ICE requires facilities to implement,
we requested fiscal year 2013 information from ERO and the ICE Office
of Acquisition Management (OAQ) concerning the detention standards
cited in facilities’ contracts or agreements with ICE. We assessed the
reliability of the ERO and OAQ detention standards data by reviewing the
contracts and agreements on which the information was based for a
nonprobability sample of 20 facilities, and interviewing ERO and OAQ
officials about discrepancies in the data. 13 We assessed ERO’s and
OAQ’s maintenance of information on the standards cited in facilities’
contracts and agreements against Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government. 14 We determined that the data were sufficiently
reliable for the purpose of presenting trends in the standards to which
different types of facilities are to adhere, but we found limitations with the
data the detention standards cited in facilities’ contracts and agreements,
which we discuss in the report. Finally, we interviewed relevant DHS
officials regarding their approach to implementing the 2011 PBNDS and
PREA notice of proposed rulemaking across facilities and any associated
challenges.
To determine the extent to which DHS assessed facility compliance with
SAAPI provisions, as well as the results of these assessments, we
reviewed oversight mechanisms utilized at ICE’s detention facilities from
fiscal years 2010 through 2013. In particular, we compared oversight
mechanisms in place through (1) ERO annual facility inspections, (2)
ERO’s DSM program, (3) ERO’s Operational Review Self-Assessment
process, and (4) OPR Office of Detention Oversight’s (ODO) risk-based

13

We selected this sample to include (1) facilities at which we conducted site visits and (2)
facilities for which ERO and OAQ information on facility standards differed. While not
generalizable, this sample provided us with helpful insights into the reliability of ERO and
OAQ’s information on facility standards.

14

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

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Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

facility inspections and assessed the extent to which these mechanisms
where used at ICE’s 251 authorized facilities. In addition, we reviewed the
results of the 110 ERO and 30 ODO facility inspection reports that
assessed compliance with SAAPI standards during fiscal years 2010
through 2013. 15 We analyzed information in these reports to assess the
extent to which inspectors found deficiencies in the SAAPI standards,
associated corrective actions, and any patterns across reports. In
addition, we assessed the consistency of the SAAPI inspections with
standards in Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. 16
We also interviewed ERO and ODO officials responsible for inspections
and the DSM program; officials from the entity that ERO currently
contracts with to complete its inspections; DSMs, ICE officials, and
administrators responsible for on-site oversight at the facilities we visited;
ERO officials responsible for reviewing results from facility selfassessments; and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) officials responsible for
assessing compliance with DOJ standards at the facilities with which
USMS has agreements that house ICE detainees about the oversight
they perform. 17 Moreover, we collected information on ICE’s plans for
future oversight and DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking to assess the
extent to which they will change ICE’s SAAPI oversight efforts.
We conducted this performance audit from October 2012 through
November 2013, in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the
audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We
believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

15

We chose this time frame because prior to fiscal year 2010, the scope of ICE’s
inspections of the SAAPI standard was limited to 2 of its 251 facilities. Because the 2000
NDS do not include a SAAPI standard, we reviewed reports inspecting the 2007
Residential Standards, 2008 PBNDS, or 2011 PBNDS. In addition, our analysis included
inspection reports available as of August 2013. At that time, all but 2 ERO and 3 ODO
inspection reports scheduled for fiscal year 2013 were available for our review.

16

GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.

17

From fiscal years 2011 through 2013, ERO contracted with the Nakamoto Group to
conduct its annual detention standards inspections.

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Appendix II: Summary of Substantiated
Sexual Abuse and Assault Allegations,
October 2009 through March 2013
Appendix II: Summary of Substantiated Sexual
Abuse and Assault Allegations, October 2009
through March 2013

Our analysis of ICE JICMS data showed 15 substantiated allegations of
sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention facilities from October 2009
through March 2013. The 15 substantiated sexual abuse and assault
cases had several similar underlying factors. In particular, 4 of these
cases included situations where the detainee was alone with a guard—
such as in protective custody or transport—and 3 cases involved
transgender victims. In addition, 4 cases included a perpetrator who did
not understand the zero-tolerance sexual abuse policy. In 4 of the 15
substantiated cases, a guard sexually abused a detainee, whereas in the
remaining 11 cases, a detainee sexually abused a detainee. Table 10
summarizes these substantiated allegations and identifies characteristics
that were similar across multiple cases.
Table 10: Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Abuse and Assault in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Facilities, October 2009 through March 2013
a

Allegation summary

Type of facility

Similarities across
cases

Outcomes

Staff-on-detainee allegations
A transgender detainee was sexually assaulted by a
Dedicated
male guard while in protective housing (December 2010). intergovernmental
service agreement

The guard was
prosecuted by the local
U.S. Attorney’s Office
(USAO).

•
•
•

•

A female guard attempted sexual intercourse with a male Service processing
detainee (November 2012).
center

Criminal prosecution
was declined by the
local USAO.

•

•

A male guard took a female detainee out of the vehicle
Dedicated
during transport to an airport, conducted a pat-down
intergovernmental
search, and asked her to raise her shirt. When the
service agreement
detainee refused, the guard propositioned her for sexual
intercourse. The detainee refused and they proceeded to
the airport. During an investigation, an additional nine
female detainees reported that this male guard had
sexually assaulted them during transport (December
2009 to May 2010).

Page 60

The guard was
prosecuted and indicted
by the local USAO.

•

•

Transgender
victim.
Victim housed in
protective custody.
Staff member
alone with
detainee.
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.
Staff member
alone with
detainee.
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.
Staff member
alone with
detainee.
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Appendix II: Summary of Substantiated Sexual
Abuse and Assault Allegations, October 2009
through March 2013

a

Allegation summary

Type of facility

Outcomes

A male guard intimidated and coerced a transgender
detainee assigned to protective custody to display the
detainee’s breasts and then the guard inappropriately
touched himself in view of the detainee (December
2009).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

The guard was
prosecuted in state
court.

Similarities across
cases
•
Transgender
victim.
•
Victim housed in
protective custody.
•
Staff member
alone with
detainee.
•
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

Detainee-on-detainee allegations
A male detainee was sexually assaulted by another male Nondedicated
detainee. The assault included repeated sexual requests, intergovernmental
among other things (February to March 2010).
service agreement

The local law
enforcement agency did
not pursue an
investigation because
the alleged perpetrator
was scheduled for
deportation 1 week
after the allegation.

•

Victim housed in
protective custody.

A male detainee repeatedly hit another detainee in the
face with his genitalia (September 2010).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

The perpetrator was
tried for sexual
misconduct and
ordered to pay a fine.

•

Transgender
victim.

A male detainee touched another detainee’s genitalia on
several occasions (March 2013).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

The local district
attorney did not pursue
prosecution because
the victim did not want
to press charges.

•

Perpetrator did not
understand zerotolerance sexual
abuse and assault
policy.
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

•

A male detainee grabbed two other males’ buttocks
(January 2013).

Contract detention
facility

The local law
enforcement agency did
not file criminal
charges.

•

Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

A male detainee grabbed another male detainee by his
genitalia (September 2011).

Contract detention
facility

Criminal prosecution
was declined by the
local USAO.

•

Perpetrator did not
understand zerotolerance sexual
abuse and assault
policy.
Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.
None.

•

A male detainee grabbed another male detainee’s
genitalia (March 2013).

Page 61

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

Local law enforcement
declined to investigate
because the victim did
not want to press
charges.

•

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Appendix II: Summary of Substantiated Sexual
Abuse and Assault Allegations, October 2009
through March 2013

a

Similarities across
cases
•
Perpetrators
admitted to abuse.

Allegation summary

Type of facility

Outcomes

A male detainee reported that other male detainees
touched him, and an investigation indicated that there
was inappropriate touching among ICE detainees, but
that there was no oral sex or penetration (November
2012).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

None of the individuals
involved wanted to file
or sign a formal
complaint regarding the
incident.

A male detainee pressed his genitalia against another
male detainee (January 2013).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

The local district
attorney declined
prosecution because of
a lack of evidence.

•

Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

A male detainee grabbed another male detainee’s chest
and buttocks (February 2013).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

Local law enforcement
declined to investigate
because the victim did
not want to press
charges.

•

Perpetrator
admitted to abuse.

A female detainee grabbed another female detainee’s
buttocks (June 2012).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

Local law enforcement
declined to investigate
because of the minor
level of contact.

•

A male detainee repeatedly requested oral sex from
another male detainee (February 2013).

Nondedicated
intergovernmental
service agreement

The perpetrator was
transferred before a
disciplinary hearing
could take place.

•

Perpetrator did not
understand zerotolerance sexual
abuse and assault
policy.
None.

Source: GAO analysis of ICE information.
a

Dates presented in this column reflect when the alleged abuse occurred or, if that date was not
available, when the allegation was reported to ICE headquarters.
.

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Appendix III: Process for Reporting and
Investigating Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations
Appendix III: Process for Reporting and
Investigating Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations

DHS ICE provides detainees with multiple methods to report sexual
abuse and assault in detention facilities and oversees a multilayered
investigation process. As shown in figure 3, detainees can report sexual
abuse and assault allegations either locally at facilities in which they are
housed or to DHS headquarters hotlines. Regardless of how detainees
report abuse, DHS components are to forward these allegations to the
Joint Intake Center to be routed for investigation. Local law enforcement
and various DHS investigative entities including the OIG and ICE OPR
conduct investigations into sexual abuse allegations. These investigations
determine whether the alleged incident occurred and can lead to
prosecution of alleged perpetrators.

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Appendix III: Process for Reporting and
Investigating Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations

Figure 3: Process for Reporting and Investigating Sexual Abuse Allegations in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Detention Facilities

a

According to ICE officials, facility staff receive training on signs of sexual abuse and assault and may
be able to detect abuse even if a detainee or third party does not report it.

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Appendix III: Process for Reporting and
Investigating Sexual Abuse and Assault
Allegations

b

According to Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties officials, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties first refers allegations it receives to the OIG. If the OIG declines to investigate the allegation,
the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties investigates the allegation or refers it to the ICE
Prevention of Sexual Assault coordinator, who then refers it to the Joint Intake Center.

c

When the Joint Intake Center receives staff-on-detainee allegations from ICE entities, it first refers
them to the DHS OIG. If the DHS OIG declines to investigate the allegations, the Joint Intake Center
refers them to OPR.

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Appendix IV: Provisions for Sexual Abuse
and Assault Prevention and Intervention
Included in Immigration Detention Standards
Appendix IV: Provisions for Sexual Abuse and
Assault Prevention and Intervention Included
in Immigration Detention Standards

Table 11 provides a summary comparing SAAPI provisions included in
ICE’S detention standards that apply across immigration detention
facilities. These standards include the 2000 NDS, 2008 PBNDS, and
2011 PBNDS.
Table 11: Provisions for Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) in U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) Detention Standards

Topical area

2000 National
Detention Standards
(NDS) provisions

2008 Performance-Based National
Detention Standards (PBNDS)
provisions

Definitions

None related to SAAPI

Define detainee-on-detainee and staff-ondetainee sexual abuse or assault.

Expand definition of detainee-on-detainee
sexual abuse or assault to include
attempted sexually abusive contact.
Expand definition of staff-on-detainee
sexual abuse or assault to include repeated
verbal statements or comments of a sexual
nature to a detainee, including demeaning
references to gender, derogatory
comments about body or clothing, or
profane or obscene language or gestures.

Prohibitions

Prohibit sexual assault,
engaging in sexual
acts, and making
sexual proposals and
threats

State that sexual conduct between
detainees and staff, volunteers, or contract
personnel—regardless of consensual
status—is prohibited; and subject to
administrative, disciplinary, and criminal
sanctions.

Similar to the provisions in the 2008 SAAPI
standard.

Written policies
and procedures

None for SAAPI

Require facility administrators to have
written SAAPI policies and procedures.

Require written SAAPI policies and
procedures to include additional
components, such as a statement of a
zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual
abuse or assault.

Program
coordination

None for SAAPI

Require service processing centers and
contract detention facilities to designate a
SAAPI coordinator to, among other things,
coordinate the gathering of reports on
incidents of sexual abuse or assault.

Require all facilities that house detainees
for more than 72 hours, including
intergovernmental service agreement
facilities, to designate a SAAPI coordinator.

Staff training

None specific to SAAPI Require facilities to provide training on
certain topics relating to sexual abuse and
assault for employees, volunteers, and
contract personnel.

Modify 2008 requirements to specify that
the level and type of training for volunteers
and contractors will be based on the
services they provide and their level of
contact with detainees, requires training on
working with vulnerable populations, and
requires facilities to maintain
documentation to verify training.

Page 66

Provisions in 2011 PBNDS beyond
those in 2008 PBNDS

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Appendix IV: Provisions for Sexual Abuse and
Assault Prevention and Intervention Included
in Immigration Detention Standards

2000 National
Detention Standards
(NDS) provisions

2008 Performance-Based National
Detention Standards (PBNDS)
provisions

Detainee
notification,
orientation, and
instruction

None related to SAAPI

Require facilities to provide detainees with
information on their SAAPI programs.
Facility must provide detainees an option to
report a sexual incident or situation to a
designated staff member other than an
immediate point-of-contact line officer and
post sexual assault awareness information.

Require that facilities provide detainees
with information on additional topics and
document detainee participation in the
instruction session, post the name of the
SAAPI program coordinator or designated
staff member and local organizations that
can assist detainee victims, and take
additional steps to strengthen language
assistance for limited English proficient and
illiterate detainees.

Prevention

None specific to
SAAPI, but require
facilities to prevent
abuse through housing
assignments that
reduce low-threat
detainees’ exposure to
danger

Assign staff and detainees responsibility for
being alert for and reporting signs of
potential situations in which sexual assault
might occur. Facility must work to prevent
abuse through detainee admission and
housing assignments. In particular,
detainees must be screened upon arrival
for risk of sexual victimization or
abusiveness, and monitored and counseled
accordingly. Detainees considered likely to
become victims must be placed in the least
restrictive housing that is available and
appropriate.

Specify that a detainee who is subjected to
sexual abuse or assault shall not be
returned to general population until proper
reclassification, taking into consideration
any increased vulnerability of the detainee
as a result of the sexual abuse or assault,
is completed.

Prompt and
effective
intervention

None specific to
SAAPI, but require that
facilities have a
process for responding
to detainee grievances

Require that staff take seriously all
statements from detainees claiming to be
victims of sexual assaults, offer alleged
victims immediate protection from the
assailant, refer the alleged victim for a
medical examination, and follow all
reporting requirements.

Require that facilities use a coordinated,
multidisciplinary team approach to respond
to sexual abuse that includes a medical
practitioner, a mental health practitioner, a
security staff member and an investigator
from the assigned investigative entity, as
well as representatives from outside
entities that provide relevant services and
expertise. Further require that care is taken
to place the detainee in a supportive
environment that represents the least
restrictive housing option possible.

Reporting,
notifications, and
confidentiality

Require officers to
document prohibited
acts, which include
sexual assault, that
they witness or suspect

Emphasize importance of timely reporting
of all sexual abuse and assault incidents
and allegations, and outline specific
reporting avenues for different types of
assault incidents. Require confidentiality
measures to limit information about the
alleged victims to those who have a need
to know.

Require that staff suspected of perpetrating
abuse be removed from all duties requiring
detainee contact pending the outcome of
an investigation.

Topical area

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Provisions in 2011 PBNDS beyond
those in 2008 PBNDS

GAO-14-38 Immigration Detention

Appendix IV: Provisions for Sexual Abuse and
Assault Prevention and Intervention Included
in Immigration Detention Standards

2000 National
Detention Standards
(NDS) provisions

2008 Performance-Based National
Detention Standards (PBNDS)
provisions

Investigation and
prosecution

Require facilities to
develop a process for
investigating detainee
grievances, including
allegations, but do not
specifically address
sexual abuse or
assault investigations

Stipulate that a sensitive and coordinated
response is necessary when a detainee
alleges sexual abuse or assault, and that
all allegations are promptly and effectively
investigated. Require that staff preserve
the crime scene, when possible, and
arrange for the victim to undergo a forensic
medical examination, based on factors
such as availability of in-house expertise
and security considerations.

Require that all investigations into alleged
sexual assault be prompt, thorough,
objective, and conducted by trained
investigators. In addition, the facility
administrator must arrange for the victim to
undergo an off-site forensic medical
examination in all cases, rather than based
on such factors as availability of in-house
expertise and general security
considerations. Also require the facility
SAAPI coordinator to review the results of
every investigation of sexual abuse to
assess and improve prevention and
response efforts.

Health care
services and
transfer of
detainees to
hospitals or other
facilities

Require that facilities
provide detainees with
emergency medical
care, but do not
specifically address
treatment for sexual
abuse or assault
victims

Require that victims of sexual assault must
be referred to a community facility for
treatment and gathering of evidence, when
possible. If care is provided in-house,
requires that health care professionals take
particular steps (e.g., offer victims
prophylactic treatment, as appropriate).

Specify that if a victim is treated by a
community facility, prophylactic treatment,
emergency contraception, and follow-up
examinations for sexually transmitted
diseases are be offered to victims, as
appropriate.

Tracking

Require that
investigative forms are
completed according to
facility policies, but do
not include specific
requirements for
tracking sexual abuse
or assault

Require facility administrators to maintain
general and investigative files for
allegations of sexual abuse that include
information such as crime characteristics, a
detailed reporting timeline, incident and
investigative reports, medical forms, and
supporting memos and videotapes.

Require that the SAAPI program
coordinator undertake an annual review of
aggregate data related to sexual abuse
allegations and present the findings to the
field office director and ICE Enforcement
and Removal Operations (ERO)
headquarters for use in determining
changes to existing policies and practices
to further the goal of eliminating sexual
abuse.

Topical area

Provisions in 2011 PBNDS beyond
those in 2008 PBNDS

Source: GAO analysis of ICE detention standards.

Note: ICE has developed another set of detention standards—the 2007 Family Residential
Standards—for facilities that house families. As of August 2013, 1 of ICE’s 251 detention facilities
housed families, and this facility housed less than 1 percent of the average detainee population from
fiscal years 2010 through 2012. The 2007 Family Residential Standards are not included in this table
because this table focuses on facilities that generally house adult immigration detainees.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards
and PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 established the National Prison
Rape Elimination Commission to study the impacts of prison rape in the
United States and charged NPREC with recommending standards for
addressing prison rape for consideration in developing standards required
by PREA. 1 In June 2009, NPREC issued a report with recommended
standards, including specific recommendations for facilities that house
immigration detainees. 2 According to DHS, the department took NPREC’s
recommendations for facilities that house immigration detainees into
consideration along with input from other sources in its development of
ICE’s 2011 PBNDS. In addition, DHS stated in the PREA notice of
proposed rulemaking that NPREC’s recommendations for facilities that
house immigration detainees are of particular interest to the department.
Table 12 provides a summary of the NPREC recommended standards for
immigration detention facilities compared with the standards in ICE’s
2011 PBNDS and DHS’s PREA notice of proposed rulemaking, along
with perspectives we obtained from former NPREC members and ICE
officials on reasons for, and the significance of, any differences.

1

See 42 U.S.C. §§ 15606(a), (d)-(e), 15607(a)(1)-(2). PREA directed the Attorney General
to adopt national standards for the detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of
prison rape and required that these standards be based on the independent judgment of
the Attorney General, after giving due consideration to the NPREC recommended
standards. In its final PREA rule, the Department of Justice determined that PREA
encompasses any federal confinement facility, including immigration detention facilities,
and that federal agencies, including DHS, would work with the Attorney General to issue
rules or procedures that would satisfy the requirements of PREA, citing the section of
PREA that required the Attorney General to give due consideration to NPREC’s
recommendations, 42 U.S.C. § 15607(a)(2). See 77 Fed. Reg. at 37113.
2

National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination
Commission Report, June 2009.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Table 12: National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) Recommended Standards for Immigration Detention
Facilities Compared with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards
(PBNDS) and DHS Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
Related comments by former NPREC
Commissioners and U.S. Immigration and
a
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials

NPREC recommended standard

2011 PBNDS and DHS NPRM

Agreements with outside public entities
and community service providers—The
agency maintains copies of agreements, or
documentation showing attempts to enter
into agreements, with one or more local or
national organizations that provide legal
advocacy and confidential emotional support
services for immigrant victims of crime.

Both require that facility
administrators enter into or attempt
to enter into agreements.
Neither specifically requires that
agencies maintain documentation
showing that they entered or
attempted to enter into agreements.

NPREC—An agency should maintain
documentation as a matter of good business
practice. Facilities should maintain this
documentation as evidence to present to PREA
auditors.
ICE—Facility managers are compelled to
maintain documentation of attempts to enter into
agreements because while the 2011 PBNDS do
not specifically require this documentation,
inspectors are to review this documentation in
conducting facility inspections.

Employee training and specialized
training of investigators and medical and
mental health care—Provides for special
additional training to employees, including
medical and mental health practitioners and
investigators on the following topics: (1)
cultural sensitivity toward diverse
understandings of acceptable and
unacceptable sexual behavior, (2)
appropriate terms and concepts for
discussing sex and sexual abuse with a
culturally diverse population, (3) sensitivity
and awareness regarding past trauma that
may have been experienced by immigration
detainees, and (4) knowledge of all existing
resources for immigration detainees both
inside and outside the facility that provide
treatment and counseling for trauma and
legal advocacy for victims.

The NPRM requires specialized staff
training on coordination and health
care issues, and on communicating
effectively with detainees. The 2011
PBNDS also require training for staff
on “cultural and language issues.”
Neither explicitly requires training
focused on the four topics
enumerated in the NPREC
recommended standard.

NPREC—Emphasized importance for DHS to
require training on the specific topics NPREC
recommended because individuals with a
background in corrections do not inherently
possess this knowledge and detainees will not
find facility efforts to prevent sexual abuse
credible if sexual abuse and assault prevention
and intervention (SAAPI) information is not
provided in a manner that is respectful of their
cultural norms.
ICE—Agreed with NPREC standard; however,
many of the state and local jails housing ICE
detainees do not have the resources to provide
this specialized training, especially given that
most house very small populations of ICE
detainees (to which such cultural issues would
be applicable). ICE could explore the possibility
of assisting facilities with this type of training in
the future, depending on its own resources.

Inmate (detainee) education—Sexual
abuse education for immigration detainees is
provided at a time and in a manner that is
separate from information provided about
their immigration cases, in detainees’ own
languages and in terms that are culturally
appropriate, and is conducted by a qualified
individual with experience communicating
about these issues with a diverse population.

Both require that facilities provide
information to ICE detainees in a
language or format that they
understand.
Neither explicitly requires that
education be provided to detainees
separately from information about
their immigration cases, in terms
that are culturally appropriate, or by
a qualified individual with experience
communicating about these issues
with a diverse population.

NPREC—Incorporation of all elements is
important.
ICE—ICE policies require that facilities make
SAAPI-related information available to detainees
on an ongoing basis that provides detainees with
the opportunity to learn about SAAPI issues
separately from their immigration case.
Reiterated that many of the state and local jails
housing ICE detainees do not have the
resources to provide specialized training to staff
beyond the training already required by the
PBNDS, but that ICE could explore the possibility
of assisting facilities with this type of training in
the future, depending on resources.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Related comments by former NPREC
Commissioners and U.S. Immigration and
a
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials

NPREC recommended standard

2011 PBNDS and DHS NPRM

Detainee Handbook—Every detainee is
provided with an ICE Detainee Handbook
upon admission to the facility, and a
replacement is provided whenever a
detainee’s handbook is lost or damaged. The
Detainee Handbook contains notice of the
agency’s zero-tolerance policy toward sexual
abuse and contains all the agency’s policies
related to sexual abuse, including
information about how to report an incident
of sexual abuse and detainees’ rights and
responsibilities related to sexual abuse. The
Detainee Handbook will inform immigration
detainees how to contact organizations in the
community that provide sexual abuse
counseling and legal advocacy for detainee
victims of sexual abuse. The Detainee
Handbook will also inform detainees how to
contact the DHS Office for Civil Rights and
Civil Liberties, DHS Office of the Inspector
General (OIG), and diplomatic or consular
personnel.

Both require that the handbook be
made available to all detainees, and
that detainees be notified about the
facility’s zero-tolerance policy and
how to report allegations of abuse to
ICE headquarters and the OIG.
Neither explicitly requires that a
replacement handbook be provided
whenever a detainee’s handbook is
lost or damaged, or that the
handbook include information on
how to contact community
organizations, DHS Office for Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties, or
diplomatic or consular personnel.

NPREC—The handbook should include the
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ phone
number because the Office for Civil Rights and
Civil Liberties’ mandate focuses on investigating
cases, whereas the OIG’s mission focuses on
b
ensuring the integrity of DHS functions.
ICE —Although no written ICE policy explicitly
requires the provision of replacement handbooks
to detainees, ICE does so in practice, and the
handbook’s introduction advises detainees that
they may request a replacement as necessary.
In addition, contact information for the Office for
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, community
organizations, and diplomatic and consular
personnel is provided to detainees through other
means (e.g., postings in detainee housing
areas).

Screening for risk of victimization and
abusiveness—The facility makes every
reasonable effort to obtain institutional and
criminal records of immigration detainees in
its custody prior to screening for risk of
victimization and abusiveness. Screening of
immigration detainees is conducted by
employees who are culturally competent.

Both include provisions related to
obtaining detainee criminal histories.
As discussed above, training
requirements do not include the
NPREC-recommended topics
related to cultural competence, but
the 2011 PBNDS require that
employee training address “cultural
and language issues.”

NPREC—Reiterated the importance of providing
training to facility staff to ensure that they are
culturally competent.
ICE—As discussed above, many state and local
jails do not have the resources to provide this
specialized training, but ICE could explore
assisting facilities with this type of training in the
future, depending on resources.

Use of screening information—Any facility
that houses both inmates and immigration
detainees houses all immigration detainees
separately from other inmates in the facility
and provides heightened protection for
immigration detainees who are identified as
particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse by
other detainees through the screening
process. To the extent possible, immigration
detainees have full access to programs,
education, and work opportunities.

Both require that facilities provide
heightened protection for detainees
who are identified as particularly
vulnerable to sexual abuse, and that
facilities allow detainees who are
identified as particularly vulnerable
to sexual abuse to have the least
restrictive housing possible.
Neither requires that facilities house
all immigration detainees separately
from other inmates in the facility.

NPREC—Reiterated that housing detainees
separately from other inmates is of paramount
importance because comingling denies
detainees their civil status and subjects them to
rules that are appropriate for convicted criminals
but not for civil detainees.
ICE—ICE works to ensure the safety of
detainees by housing them separately from
detainees and inmates of higher threat levels. It
is infeasible for state and local facilities to house
detainees separately by classification level and
apart from inmates because of resource
constraints. ICE is working to consolidate the
detainee population into fewer facilities that
house solely ICE detainees, which reduces the
frequency with which detainees are housed
together with inmates.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

NPREC recommended standard

2011 PBNDS and DHS NPRM

Related comments by former NPREC
Commissioners and U.S. Immigration and
a
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials

Inmate (detainee) reporting—The agency
provides immigration detainees with access
to telephones with free, preprogrammed
numbers to the DHS Office for Civil Rights
and Civil Liberties and the DHS OIG. In
addition, the agency must provide
immigration detainees with a list of phone
numbers for diplomatic or consular personnel
from their countries of citizenship and access
to telephones to contact such personnel.

Both require facilities to provide
information on how to contact the
DHS OIG and consular officials. In
addition, the 2011 PBNDS require
that facilities provide detainees with
free telephone access to these
parties.
Neither requires facilities to provide
detainees with free telephone
access to the Office for Civil Rights
and Civil Liberties.

NPREC—Detainee access to the Office for Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties is important because
the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’
mandate focuses on investigating cases,
whereas the OIG’s mission focuses on ensuring
the integrity of DHS functions.
ICE—The Office for Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties has indicated that it may not have the
capacity to support the increased call volume
that would result from free access to its number,
given its limited staffing resources.

Inmate (detainee) access to outside
confidential support services—All
immigration detainees have access to
outside victim advocates who have
experience working with immigration
detainees or immigrant victims of crime for
emotional support services related to sexual
abuse. The facility provides such access by
giving immigration detainees the current
mailing addresses and telephone numbers,
including toll-free hotline numbers, of local,
state, and national organizations that provide
these services and enabling reasonable
communication between immigration
detainees and these organizations. The
facility ensures that communications with
such advocates is private, confidential, and
privileged to the extent allowable by federal,
state, and local law. The facility informs
immigration detainees, prior to giving them
access, of the extent to which such
communications will be private, confidential,
and privileged.

The NPRM requires that facilities
provide detainees with access to
support services and enable
reasonable communication between
detainees and service providers, in
as confidential a manner as
possible.
The 2011 PBNDS require facilities
to provide detainees with access to
outside services by giving detainees
the names of local organizations
that can assist detainee victims.
Neither requires that victims be
informed of the extent to which their
communications with the service
providers will be private,
confidential, and privileged.

NPREC—It is critical that detainees have the
option to report abuse confidentially, and ICE
cannot assume that detainees will know which of
their communications are confidential; ICE must
apprise them of this.
ICE—Reiterated that the NPRM contains
language requiring that facilities enable
reasonable communication between detainees
and support organizations in as confidential a
manner as possible, but did not comment on
informing victims of the confidentiality of their
communications or that the communications are
confidential to the extent allowable by law versus
as confidential as possible.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

NPREC recommended standard

2011 PBNDS and DHS NPRM

Related comments by former NPREC
Commissioners and U.S. Immigration and
a
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials

Protection of detainee victims and
Neither includes these
witnesses—ICE never removes from the
requirements.
country or transfers to another facility
immigration detainees who report sexual
abuse before the investigation of that abuse
is completed, except at the detainee victim’s
request. ICE considers releasing detainees
who are victims of, or witnesses to, abuse;
and monitoring them in the community to
protect them from retaliation or further abuse
during the course of the investigation.

NPREC—Permitting the transfer of detainees
enables retaliation against detainees who report
abuse, interrupts investigation processes, and
makes cases less likely to come to fruition. The
threat of removal or transfer is very powerful.
ICE—It is not appropriate to include these
requirements in the PBNDS 2011 because
detention standards apply only to detention
facilities; however, it is ICE, not the detention
facilities, that holds the authority to transfer and
remove detainees. However, ICE Directive
11062.1—Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention
and Intervention—directs the ICE Office of
Professional Responsibility to coordinate with
appropriate entities to facilitate necessary
immigration processes that ensure availability of
victims, witnesses, and perpetrators for
investigative interviews and administrative or
criminal procedures. It also directs field office
directors to consider potential alternative
custodial options (such as release) for detainee
victims.

Data collection—The facility collects
additional data whenever an immigration
detainee is the victim or perpetrator of an
incident of sexual abuse in custody. The
additional incident-based data collected
indicate whether the victim or perpetrator
was an immigration detainee, his or her
status at the initiation of the investigation,
and his or her status at the conclusion of the
investigation.

NPREC—DHS should consider developing a
more robust framework for collecting, analyzing,
and using these data similar to the surveys
performed by the Department of Justice Bureau
of Justice Statistics. It is crucial for effective
record keeping and appropriate administrative
response to incidents that the status of the
perpetrator be designated (e.g., staff, visitor,
immigration detainee).
ICE—The information suggested in the NPREC
recommendation is generally expected to be
contained in investigative files based on the
requirements in the 2011 PBNDS.

Both require facilities to maintain
records when a sexual assault
occurs that identify the perpetrator,
among other things. The 2011
PBNDS also require that the records
identify the victim.
Neither specifically requires that the
records identify whether the
perpetrator was an immigration
detainee, his or her status at the
initiation of the investigation, and his
or her status at the conclusion of the
investigation.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

NPREC recommended standard

2011 PBNDS and DHS NPRM

Recommended standards for family
facilities—These consist of four standards
that address screening of immigration
detainees, reporting of sexual abuse,
investigations, and access to medical and
mental health care in family facilities. For
example, they recommend that family
facilities develop screening criteria to identify
those families and family members who may
be at risk of being sexually victimized that
will not lead to the separation of families; that
parents are questioned confidentially by
investigators about any incident of sexual
abuse, away from their children; and that all
family members are offered mental health
counseling when one family member is a
victim of sexual abuse in the facility.

The 2007 Family Residential
Standards govern ICE family
facilities.
Both these standards and the
NPRM require the use of screening
criteria for identifying those likely to
be sexual aggressors or sexual
victims and that facilities offer
victims of sexual abuse mental
health care.
Neither identifies as a priority
ensuring that their application does
not lead to the separation of
families. In addition neither specifies
that facilities offer family members of
victims of sexual abuse mental
health care.

Related comments by former NPREC
Commissioners and U.S. Immigration and
a
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials
NPREC—Reiterated the importance of including
all four of the standards the commission
recommended for family facilities. Sexual
victimization of a family member in a detention
facility involves shared trauma, as family
members must cope with the consequences.
Treatment should be made available to all family
members directly affected by the victimization.
Family separation can be destructive and very
costly. It can also increase detainees’
vulnerability to sexual victimization.
ICE—These standards have been implemented
in practice at ICE’s residential facility. For
example, all residents at family facilities have
access to mental health care at any time, so all
facility members could receive counseling if one
member is a victim of sexual abuse. The purpose
of the family facility is to retain family unity, and
the purpose of the screening process is to
remove any detainees that would not be
appropriately housed at a family facility, such as
sexual abuse perpetrators.

Source: GAO analysis of DHS and NPREC documents and testimony.

Notes: NPREC also recommended that all immigration detainees be counseled about the immigration
consequences of a positive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) test at the time they are offered
HIV testing. NPREC explained that at the time it drafted the recommended standards, immigrants
seeking legal status in the United States who were known to be HIV-positive had to seek a waiver
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to do so, as all people with communicable
diseases of public health significance were required to do. Because of the potential consequences of
a positive test for an immigration detainee, NPREC opined that it was important that detainees make
an informed decision about whether to be tested or not. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services published a final rule removing HIV from the list of communicable diseases of public
health significance for purposes of removability and inadmissibility (see 42 C.F.R. pt. 34). As a result,
this recommended standard is no longer relevant.
a

The views presented in this column are based on interview testimony provided by seven of eight
former NPREC commissioners. The other commissioner was not available for comment. We refer to
the former NPREC commissioners we interviewed as NPREC for the purpose of brevity in this
column, but the former commissioners noted that NPREC no longer exists and that they were not
speaking on behalf of the commission.
b

The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ mission is to support DHS’s mission to secure the
nation while preserving individual liberty, fairness, and equality under the law. The Office for Civil
Rights and Civil Liberties works to integrate civil rights and civil liberties into all of DHS’s activities by,
among other things, investigating and resolving civil rights and civil liberties complaints filed by the
public regarding department policies or activities, or actions taken by department personnel. The
OIG’s mission is to conduct independent and objective inspections, audits, and investigations to
provide oversight and promote excellence, integrity, and accountability in DHS programs and
operations.

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Appendix V: NPREC Recommendations
Compared with DHS Detention Standards and
PREA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

National advocacy organizations we spoke with generally agreed in
comments they submitted on DHS’s PREA notice of proposed rulemaking
that the notice of proposed rulemaking includes components that could
strengthen SAAPI provisions in DHS’s detention facilities, but identified
aspects of the proposed rule that they view as weaknesses. For example,
three of the four national advocacy organizations we spoke with agreed
that the standards included in DHS’s notice of proposed rulemaking, if
fully implemented, would significantly increase the safety of DHS
detainees, but that the standards could benefit from inclusion of additional
requirements, such as that forensic medical exams be provided by a
Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) or a Sexual Assault Nurse
Examiner (SANE). 3 These organizations also raised concern that DHS’s
notice of proposed rulemaking would not ensure timely implementation of
the standards included in the rule. As DHS’s PREA rule is in proposed
form and subject to change based on public comments received by the
department, it is too early to assess the extent to which the final rule may
address these issues.

3
SAFEs are health care providers (e.g., physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse
practitioners, or midwifes) who are specially educated and clinically prepared to perform
sexual assault medical forensic exams. SANEs are registered nurses and advanced
practice nurses who receive specialized education and fulfill clinical requirements to
perform sexual assault medical forensic exams.

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Appendix VI: DHS PREA Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking Compared with DOJ PREA Rule
Appendix VI: DHS PREA Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking Compared with DOJ PREA Rule

DHS’s PREA notice of proposed rulemaking adopts the overall structure
of DOJ’s PREA rule and exact language from various DOJ standards;
however, there are certain differences between the rules’ standards,
examples of which are presented in table 13.
Table 13: Selected Differences between Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for
Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) Rule and Department of Justice (DOJ) Final PREA Rule
Category

DHS NPRM

DOJ final rule

Definition of
“sexual abuse”

Includes attempted abuse committed by detainees
and staff

Includes attempted abuse committed by staff but not
by inmates

Prevention planning:
cross-gender viewing
and searches

Prohibits cross-gender pat-down searches of female
detainees absent exigent circumstances and
prohibits such searches of male detainees unless,
after reasonable diligence, staff of the same gender
are not available at the time the pat-down search is
required or in exigent circumstances

Prohibits cross-gender pat-down searches of female
inmates, absent exigent circumstances, and does
not address such searches of male inmates; phases
in this requirement over 3 to 5 years, depending on
the rated capacity of the facility

Responsive planning:
forensic medical
examinations

Requires forensic medical examinations to be
performed by qualified health care personnel, but
does not specify that they be by Sexual Assault
Forensic Examiners (SAFE) or Sexual Assault Nurse
Examiners (SANE)

Requires forensic medical examinations to be
performed by SAFEs or SANEs where possible, and
if SAFEs or SANEs cannot be made available, by
other qualified medical practitioners; efforts to
provide SAFEs or SANEs are to be documented

Training and education:
staff training

Differs from DOJ rule on substance of training on
sexual abuse, and includes definitions and examples
of prohibited and illegal sexual behavior; recognition
of situations where sexual abuse may occur;
recognition of physical, behavioral, and emotional
signs of sexual abuse, and methods of preventing
and responding to such occurrences; and how to
avoid inappropriate relationships with detainees

Differs from DHS NPRM on substance of training on
sexual abuse, and includes the dynamics of sexual
abuse and sexual harassment in confinement, the
common reaction of sexual abuse and sexual
harassment victims, how to detect and respond to
signs of threatened and actual sexual abuse, and
how to avoid inappropriate relationships with inmates

Source: GAO analysis of DHS NPRM and DOJ final rule for implementing PREA.

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Appendix VII: Enforcement and Removal
Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists
Appendix VII: Enforcement and Removal
Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists

ICE ERO inspected facilities according to two sets of detention
standards—the 2008 PBNDS and the 2011 PBNDS—that include SAAPI
provisions in fiscal years 2010 through 2013. ERO developed inspection
checklist worksheets for each of these sets of standards that it uses to
assess compliance during its annual inspections of immigration detention
facilities. Table 14 compares the 2008 and 2011 PBNDS SAAPI standard
inspection checklists.
Table 14: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) 2008 and 2011
Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAAPI) Inspection Checklists
2008 SAAPI provision components

2011 SAAPI provision components

PRIORITY: The facility has a SAAPI program that includes, at PRIORITY: Each facility has written policy and procedures for a
a minimum,
SAAPI program that includes, at a minimum,
•
measures to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault;
•
a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse or assault;
•
policy and procedures for required chain-of-command
•
measures taken to prevent sexual abuse or assault, including the
reporting to the highest facility official and the ICE field
designation of specific staff members responsible for staff training
office director;
and detainee education regarding issues pertaining to sexual
assault;
•
measures for prompt and effective intervention to address
•
procedures for immediate reporting of any allegation of sexual
the safety and treatment needs of detainee victims if an
abuse or assault through the facility’s chain-of-command
assault occurs; and
procedure, and to ERO, including written documentation
•
investigation of incidents of sexual assault, and discipline
a
requirements;
of assailants.
•
procedures for detainees to report allegations;
For service processing centers and contract detention
measures taken for prompt and effective intervention to address
facilities, the written policy and procedure has been approved •
the safety and medical/mental health treatment needs of detainee
by the field office director
victims, and to preserve and collect evidence;
Tracking statistics and reports are readily available for review
•
procedures for referral of incidents to appropriate investigative
by the inspectors.
agencies (including law enforcement agencies and ICE Office of
Professional Responsibility), and coordination with such entities;
•
disciplinary sanctions for staff, up to and including termination,
when staff have violated agency sexual abuse policies, and data
collection and reporting.
PRIORITY: All staff are trained, during orientation and in
annual refresher training, in the prevention and intervention
b
areas required by the detention standard.

PRIORITY: Training on the facility’s SAAPI program is included in
initial and annual refresher training for employees, volunteers, and
contract personnel, and addresses all training topics required by the
detention standard. The facility maintains written documentation
verifying employee, volunteer, and contractor training.

PRIORITY: Detainees are informed about the program in
facility orientation and the Detainee Handbook (or equivalent).

PRIORITY: Detainees are informed about the facility’s SAAPI program
and zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and assault through the
orientation program and the Detainee Handbook. Detainee
notification, orientation, and instruction must be in a language or
manner that the detainee understands
Detainees are provided the option to report any incident of sexual
abuse or assault to any staff member, including a designated staff
member other than an immediate point-of-contact line officer (e.g., the
program coordinator or a mental health specialist)

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Appendix VII: Enforcement and Removal
Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists

2008 SAAPI provision components

2011 SAAPI provision components

The Sexual Assault Awareness Notice is posted on all housing The Sexual Assault Awareness Notice, along with the names of the
c
unit bulletin boards.
program coordinator and local organizations that can assist detainees
who have been victims of sexual assault, is posted on all housing unit
For service processing centers and contract detention
bulletin boards. The “Sexual Assault Awareness Information” brochure
facilities, the Sexual Assault Awareness Information brochure
d
is distributed to detainees.
is available for detainees.
PRIORITY: Detainees are screened upon arrival for high-risk
sexual assaultive and sexual victimization potential and
housed and counseled accordingly.
Detainees who are likely to become victims will be placed in
the least restrictive housing that is available and appropriate.

PRIORITY: Detainees are screened upon arrival at the facility for
potential vulnerabilities to sexually aggressive behavior or tendencies
to act out with sexually aggressive behavior.
Detainees identified as being at risk for sexual victimization are
monitored and counseled, and placed in the least restrictive housing
that is available and appropriate.
The facility administrator maintains or attempts to enter into
memorandums of understanding or other agreements with community
service providers or, if local providers are not available, with national
organizations that provide legal advocacy and confidential emotional
support services for immigrant victims of crime.

PRIORITY: When there is an alleged or proven sexual assault, PRIORITY: Staff members who become aware of an alleged assault
the required notifications to ICE, facility management, and the immediately follow the reporting requirements set forth in the written
appropriate law enforcement agency are promptly made.
policies and procedures.
When a detainee is alleged to be the perpetrator, the facility
administrator ensures that the incident is promptly referred to the
appropriate law enforcement agency having jurisdiction for
investigation, and reported to the ERO field office director.
When an employee, contractor, or volunteer is alleged to be the
perpetrator, the facility administrator ensures that the incident is
promptly referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency having
jurisdiction for investigation, and reported to the ERO field office
director. The local government entity or contractor that owns or
operates the facility is also notified.
PRIORITY: There is prompt and effective intervention when
any detainee is sexually abused or assaulted, and there are
policy and procedures for required chain-of-command
reporting.

A detainee who is subjected to sexual abuse or assault is not returned
to general population until proper reclassification, taking into
consideration any increased vulnerability of the detainee as a result of
the sexual abuse or assault, is completed.
PRIORITY: Any detainee who alleges that he/she has been sexually
assaulted is offered immediate protection from the assailant and
referred for a medical examination or clinical assessment for potential
negative symptoms.
The facility uses a coordinated, multidisciplinary team approach to
responding to sexual abuse, which includes a medical practitioner, a
mental health practitioner, a security staff member, and an investigator
from the assigned investigative entity, as well as representatives from
outside entities that provide relevant services and expertise.
Care is taken to place a victimized detainee in a supportive
environment that represents the least restrictive housing option
possible (e.g., protective custody), but victims are not held for longer
than 5 days in any type of administrative segregation except in highly
unusual circumstances or at the request of the detainee.

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Appendix VII: Enforcement and Removal
Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists

2008 SAAPI provision components

2011 SAAPI provision components
PRIORITY: Staff suspected of perpetrating sexual abuse or assault
are removed from all duties requiring detainee contact pending the
outcome of an investigation.

When there is an alleged sexual assault, staff conduct a
thorough investigation, gather and maintain evidence, and
make referrals to appropriate law enforcement agencies for
possible prosecution.

The facility ensures that all investigations into alleged sexual assault
are prompt, thorough, objective, fair, and conducted by qualified
investigators. Written procedures establish the coordination and
sequencing of administrative and criminal investigations to ensure that
the latter is not compromised by the former, including the process for
conducting internal administrative investigations only after consultation
with the assigned criminal investigative entity or after a criminal
investigation has concluded.
When possible and feasible, appropriate staff preserve the crime
scene, and safeguard information and evidence in coordination with
the referral agency and consistent with established evidencegathering and evidence-processing procedures.

Victims of sexual abuse or assault are referred to specialized At no cost to the detainee, the facility administrator arranges for the
community resources for treatment and gathering of evidence. victim to undergo a forensic medical examination by external
independent and qualified health care personnel. The results of the
physical examination and all collected physical evidence are provided
to the investigative entity.
Victims are provided emergency medical and mental health services
and ongoing care as appropriate, including testing for sexually
transmitted diseases and infections, prophylactic treatment,
emergency contraception, follow-up examinations for sexually
transmitted diseases, and referrals for counseling (including crisis
intervention counseling).
All records associated with claims of sexual abuse or assault
PRIORITY: The facility administrator has designated a SAAPI
are maintained, and such incidents are specifically logged and program coordinator for the facility
tracked by a designated staff coordinator.
Information concerning the identity of a detainee victim reporting
sexual assault, and the facts of the report itself, is limited to those who
have a need to know in order to make decisions concerning the
detainee victim’s welfare, and for law enforcement/investigative
purposes.
The program coordinator reviews the results of every investigation of
sexual abuse or assault to assess and improve prevention and
response efforts.
The program coordinator conducts an annual review of aggregate
data regarding sexual abuse or assault incidents at the facility, and
presents the findings to the ERO field office director and ICE ERO
headquarters for use in determining whether changes are needed to
existing policies and practices to further the goal of eliminating sexual
abuse.
All case records associated with claims of sexual abuse are
maintained in a secure location, consistent with the confidentiality
requirements of the detention standards on “Medical Care” and
“Detention Files.”
Source: GAO analysis of ICE documents.
a

According to ODPP officials, in March 2013 an ICE working group—composed of representatives
from ERO, ODPP, and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, among others—determined

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Appendix VII: Enforcement and Removal
Operations 2008 and 2011 Sexual Abuse and
Assault Provisions Inspection Checklists

priority provisions within the 2008 and 2011 PBNDS. ICE considers these priority provisions to be of
most critical importance within each detention standard based on significance to issues such as
health and life safety, facility security, detainee rights, and quality of life in detention.
b

The SAAPI provisions in the 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards stipulate that
training for employees, volunteers, and contract personnel should include recognition of situations
where sexual abuse or assault may occur, and how to report knowledge or suspicion of sexual abuse
or assault, among other things.

c

The Sexual Assault Awareness Notice contains contact information for reporting sexual abuse and
assault to a facility staff member, ICE officials, ICE’s Community and Detainee Helpline, and ICE’s
Joint Intake Center.

d

ICE’s Sexual Assault Awareness Information brochure contains information on sexual abuse and
assault definitions, avoiding sexual assault, and what to do if assaulted, among other things.

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Appendix VIII: Comments from the
Department of Homeland Security
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security

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Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security

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Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security

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Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security

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Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security

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Appendix IX: GAO Contact and Staff
Acknowledgments
Appendix IX: GAO Contact and Staff
Acknowledgments

GAO Contact

Rebecca Gambler, (202) 512-8777 or gamblerr@gao.gov

Staff
Acknowledgments

In addition to the contact named above, Lacinda Ayers, Assistant
Director; David Alexander; Frances A. Cook; Juan Gobel; Allyson
Goldstein; Eric Hauswirth; Rebecca Kuhlmann Taylor; Olivia Lopez; Alicia
Loucks; Taylor Matheson; Jessica Orr; and Gloria Proa made significant
contributions to this report.

(441114)

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