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ICE Detention Standards

Fact Sheet
February 24, 2012

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was formed, the agency operated its detention system under a set of National Detention Standards (NDS), which were based upon the policies and procedures that existed at the time of the issuance of these standards in September 2000. NDS established consistent conditions of confinement, program operations and management expectations within the agency's detention system.

ICE subsequently undertook a revision of these standards to more clearly delineate the results or outcomes to be accomplished by adherence to their requirements. The 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), developed in coordination with agency stakeholders, prescribe both the expected outcomes of each detention standard and the expected practices required to achieve them. PBNDS 2008 was also designed to improve safety, security and conditions of confinement for detainees.

In keeping with its commitment to reform the immigration detention system, ICE further revised its detention standards in 2011. The Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011 (PBNDS 2011) reflect ICE's ongoing effort to tailor the conditions of immigration detention to its unique purpose while maintaining a safe and secure detention environment for staff and detainees, and represent an important step in detention reform. They were drafted with the input of many ICE personnel across the nation, as well as the perspectives of nongovernmental organizations. PBNDS 2011 is crafted to improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve communication with detainees with limited English proficiency, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints, reinforce protections against sexual abuse and assault, and increase recreation and visitation.

Different versions of these three sets of national detention standards currently apply to ICE's various detention facilities. ICE has begun implementing PBNDS 2011 across its detention facilities, with priority initially given to facilities housing the largest populations of ICE detainees.