Outcry over conditions at Plymouth County Correctional Facility
community groups call for ICE detainees’ release
The Scope Boston
By Marigo Farr
December 16, 2021
Four immigrant justice organizations have detailed how immigrant detainees at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility face “patterns of mistreatment” — including lack of appropriate and timely medical services, physical abuse, discriminatory language, retaliation against individuals who voice grievances and barriers to outside communication and legal support.
The groups — Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN), AMOR and Never Again Action Boston — summarized their findings in a letter to the Plymouth Sheriff’s office, which runs the facility, and the federal Immigrant and Customs Enforcement field office in Boston. More than 60 other nonprofits, churches and community groups have signed on.
Plymouth County Correctional Facility, which holds between 100 to 200 immigrants at any given time through a “bed contract” with ICE, is the sole remaining ICE detention facility in Massachusetts. The “All Eyes on Plymouth” letter calls for an end to this contract, which can be terminated at any time, and the detainees’ immediate release. It was sent in September and neither the Sheriff nor ICE responded.
“I lost my dignity being detained by ICE,” said Marco Battistotti in an interview with the Scope.
Battistotti, an Italian immigrant, was detained at Plymouth jail from September 2020 to December 2020 and was one of dozens who received support from Prisoners’ Legal Services. He was transferred to Plymouth from Bristol’s jail after a similar public outcry led to the termination of its contract with ICE.
In a series of notarized documents sent to PLS, Battistotti described medical neglect, intimidation, placement in segregation, voyeurism by an officer while showering and denial of access to his attorney.
Immigrants at Plymouth jail are from a range of countries, some having entered the U.S. without documentation or having fallen out of status. They were either picked up directly by ICE on the streets of Massachusetts, handed over to ICE by local law enforcement or transferred from other facilities, sometimes out of state.
For Mario Paredes, an attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services, the concern is not just how a facility is managed — he feels there’s something systemic at play. For him, the campaign is part of a larger conversation to “end partnerships between states and immigration.”
“Our goal is for Massachusetts to not be involved in the detention of immigrants,” said Paredes, “… because there are various community-based programs … that can serve the same purpose without subjecting folks to incarceration.”