‘ICE’ detainees getting new Virtual Attorney Visitation area in Tiffin
TIFFIN, Ohio (WTVG) - For the past 25 years, the Seneca County Jail has served as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Contract Detention Facility for the federal government.
Seneca County Sheriff Fredrick Stevens gave a recent update to county commissioners about a new space, with the help of federal funding, for virtual meetings between ICE detainees and their attorneys.
“They’re interspersed with the rest of the local population,” Stevens said. “So, on average we have about 170 population back there and 60-70 of those will be the detainees.
“We have detainees from all over, top three would be from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. But we have Uzbekistan, we got Ethiopia, we have Sri Lanka,” Stevens added.
Last year U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, contacted Sheriff Stevens to request that a new space be provided for Virtual Attorney Visitation in the county jail.
“Because of all the meetings, all the lawyers, you know your numbers have increased, we would like to look into you going to this VAV system, which is a virtual attorney visitation system, which is basically two soundproof booths somewhere back in our jail area, that would allow for these Monday through Friday visitations with their attorneys without outside external noises, or anything being in a classroom setting or anything like that that we have currently set up,” Stevens said.
Stevens submitted to Immigration and Customs staff a plan to remodel an outdoor U-shaped space at the jail into the Virtual Attorney Visitation area.
“They’ll put a cement floor, reroute the waterworks that are going on here for the spouts, put a ceiling up, like I said the wall, the door will be right there and then that’s connected to where most of the immigration process is,” Stevens said.
The federal government approved $425,000 in reimbursable funds for the project. Seneca County Commissioners agreed to move forward with the project.
“ICE detainees are usually here anywhere from 80-90 days because it takes that long for their attorney process, the interpreters and then the appeals process,” Stevens added.
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