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Strafford County jail holds immigrant detainees

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 14. 2014 8:01PM

DOVER — Officials with the Strafford County Department of Corrections said Monday that the jail does not house U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees who are minors, or families.

County Administrator Ray Bower and Jail Superintendent Bruce Pelkie said the Strafford County jail currently has its largest number of ICE detainees this year, but not because they were “dumped” on the facility. Bower said they asked for more detainees, because they had the space.

Bower said Strafford County has housed ICE detainees since 2006. During that time, they have been reimbursed on a per diem basis under a contract with the federal government.

Pelkie said although Monday’s head count of 41 is the high for the year, it has been as low as 4 and varies. The detainees can be at the jail one day, a week, or two months before ICE removes them. Strafford County gets both male and female ICE detainees.

Bower said the jail doesn’t get much notice and doesn’t know where the detainees go after they leave Dover.

“They email us a list, have X, Y and Z ready,” said Bower, and the jail has the detainees ready for the U.S. Marshals to pick up. “We never ever release them out the door,” he said.

Bower said the county also isn’t told what the detainees may have done to warrant their detention, as opposed to be released with a notice to appear for a hearing.

“They’re not inmates. They are detainees,” he said. “We simply get who’s delivered to us.”

Bower said the Dover facility was built large enough to be able to accept, for reimbursement, the overflow from other facilities in the state, too. It boards women from the New Hampshire State Prison for Women and from Rockingham County, when those facilities are overwhelmed by the number of women inmates. But Strafford County does not accept males from those facilities, he said.

Daniel Modricker, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, said there are no facilities now in New Hampshire for ICE minor detainees. He had not considered the possibility that the underused Sununu Youth Center in Manchester could be a potential site for housing ICE detained juveniles, as it is currently under used for both New Hampshire detainees and committed youth, given its capacity.

Bower said the county has invited columnist Michelle Malkin, who has written that detainees are being “dumped on” New England, to visit the jail and see who is detained there, but she has not taken the county up on its offer.

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