Two immigrant men detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at a Kentucky county jail have requested an investigation by federal civil rights authorities into abusive and unsanitary conditions they have experienced at the facility, including inadequate COVID-19 protections.
In the complaint, the men describe racist treatment, inadequate access to facemasks, and an absence of outdoor recreation at Boone County Jail in Burlington, Kentucky, which detains people in ICE custody under a rider contract with the U.S. Marshals Service.
“I have gone a long time without seeing the sun or the outdoors,” a man from East Africa, who is not sharing his name publicly, explains in the complaint. “The few windows we have are usually fogged up. There were weeks where we didn’t get any recreation time at all. Now that it’s summer, they let us outside for just an hour once or twice a week. This makes it easy for me to feel depressed.”
The man also describes jail officers failing to intervene when others detained at the facility used racist slurs. He also says he was not provided a face mask until February 2021, nearly a year into the pandemic and after requesting one for months. Both men reported that facemasks still are not readily available to people detained at the facility.
ICE’s latest inspection report for Boone County Jail from March 2021 found the facility was deficient in several detention standards, including access to medical care, use of force, and transfer standards for people in detention. According to ICE data, as of July 6, 2021, there were 20 active positive COVID-19 cases in the facility.