This past week, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier said he plans to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate claims that federal immigration detainees at a Contra Costa County jail have been mistreated.
This came after several newspaper reports were issued regarding complaints by female detainees in the Richmond Jail. Most recently, a SF Chronicle Newspaper column highlighted:
female detainees at their jail in Richmond were complaining that they were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day — with no bathroom access.
The Sheriffs Office issued a response saying the columns were negative towards the Office of the Sheriff and misleading. In spite of the reporter visiting WCDF and seeing things firsthand, few facts ever made it to the one-sided column.
On Tuesday, after Congressmen DeSaulnier toured the facility on Monday, the Sheriffs Office issued a response to Congressman DeSaulnier’s call for an investigation. Here is the Sheriffs Office Response:
Investigation into Allegations at West County Detention Facility
A comprehensive investigation is already well underway into allegations made by some female ICE detainees at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF). The investigation includes extensive interviews with detainees and staff, review of hundreds of hours of video surveillance, and identification of physical evidence.
WCDF is a dormitory-style, program-based facility where all inmates are free to leave their rooms to go to educational and vocational programs, medical appointments or visits; the amount of free time all inmates receive exceeds state requirements.
On Monday, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, California 11th District, and his staff, toured WCDF and was invited to view any area he wished to visit and speak to any detainee he liked. A number of other state and local officials have also recently visited the facility.
“Congressman DeSaulnier can now publicly call for any additional investigation he wants,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston. “However, as the political rhetoric from some around this issue continues to boil, we remain undeterred in providing professional and diligent custody services for our county inmates and federal detainees.”
The Office of the Sheriff is responsible for the care and custody of over 1,600 inmates in three detention facilities in Contra Costa County. The allegations of the few female ICE detainees are a fraction of that number. Their complaints are and will be fully investigated.