Detention Center FAQs

Contract between Howard County and the ICE

Explain the contract between Howard County and ICE.

Howard County has a long-standing contract with ICE to house individuals in ICE custody.  The Detention Center does not accept any individuals held solely on administrative or civil immigration charges. Under the revised policy, the Howard County Department of Corrections will still accept ICE detainees who have been convicted of a crime of violence as defined in Md. Criminal Law Code Annotated section 14-101.  The list of violent crimes included in the statute have been defined by the Maryland General Assembly and examples of such crimes include murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and more serious assaults and sexual offenses.  However, pretrial detainees who have been only charged with crimes, including crimes of violence, but who have not yet been convicted, would no longer be eligible for being housed in the Detention Center. 


What are the criteria for taking ICE detainees into the Detention Center?

Individuals are never detained solely because of their immigration status.  The Detention Center only accepts ICE detainees under the conditions listed above. 


What are some examples of the charges against those being detained?

As of June 29, 2020, 29 ICE detainees are housed in the Detention Center under the contract with ICE.  Several have been convicted of or charged with CDS possession for substances other than marijuana, and several have been convicted or charged with DUI / DWI coupled with other misdemeanors, and in one case with three DUI / DWI offenses.  The majority includes validated gang members and persons who have been convicted of or charged with felonies, including Murder, Attempted Murder, Armed Robbery, Arson, Rape-1st degree, Racketeering, Child Abuse, Sex Abuse of a Minor, Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, Handgun Possession, Conspiracy to Murder A Police Officer, Assault, False Imprisonment, Child Pornography, Sex Offense – Second Degree, Kidnapping, Manslaughter, and Carjacking. 


Has the Howard County Detention Center ever housed any non-criminal ICE detainees under the contract with ICE?

In 2017, one person who did not meet the criteria was mistakenly detained and held for three days.  Since then, the Detention Center has put enhanced screening and monitoring measures into place to ensure that it does not happen again. 


What is the average length of stay for detainees?

96 days.


Are the facilities overcrowded?

No, the Detention Center is at less than 50% capacity as of June 29, 2020.


Does the detention center house women and children?

The Detention Center does not and has never housed women or children.


What is the per diem rate paid by ICE to Howard County?

The County's current per diem rate is $110.00 per detainee per day.  This covers food, medical care, and other costs, including overhead costs, associated with housing ICE detainees in the facility. Howard County provides very specific documentation to justify our per diem rate.  A recent review showed that the actual costs associated with housing ICE detainees is $118.00 per detainee per day. 


Are the detention center staff employed by Howard County or ICE? 

Detention Center staff are employed by Howard County, with the exception of medical staff, who are employed by the medical contractor, ConMed.


Would CB9-2017 (Sanctuary legislation) have ended the ICE contract? 

No. CB9 never called for a cancellation of the ICE contract with the Detention Center. The CB9 legislation, which was vetoed by the prior Administration, was primarily focused on ensuring Howard County officials, including our police officers, did not inquire about a person's immigration status or assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. In a January 10, 2017 statement from then Councilmembers Ball and Terrasa, the sponsors of CB9, reinforced why the legislation was important which included DACA students living in fear and victims of domestic violence who were afraid to call the police. They also noted in that same statement that CB9 did “nothing to jeopardize existing cooperation from ICE in targeting criminal activity within Howard County.”  In 2017, the Police Department revised its policies to make clear that police officers do not ask about immigration status or take action based on a person's immigration status.


What are the nearest detention centers that have contracts with ICE?

Other in-state facilities that house ICE detainees are Worcester County (135 miles away) and Frederick County.  The next closest facilities are located in Virginia and Pennsylvania. 


Are there any state prisons in Howard County?  If so, who has authority over them?

The Patuxent Institution, also located in Howard County, is a State correctional facility that operates under the authority of the State Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The Secretary of Public Safety is Robert Green. This facility has no connection to the County Detention Center.


Are the Howard County Police involved in transporting detainees?

Howard County police make arrests and transport individuals to the Detention Center only for violation of State criminal laws or under the authority of criminal warrants issued by State or federal judges.  They are not involved in any way with taking ICE detainees into custody or transporting them to the Detention Center.  When ICE agents make arrests, they process all intakes at their Baltimore field office and then a private contractor transports the detainees to the Detention Center.


Does Howard County use county resources to enforce federal immigration laws?

No, we do not use County resources to enforce federal immigration law.  The contract between Howard County and ICE provides that the County is paid to house individuals in ICE custody who meet the criteria listed above.  Howard County police do not take action based on immigration status or otherwise enforce federal immigration laws.


What is a 287(g) agreement and has Howard County entered into one?

The 287(g) program authorizes local law enforcement agencies to assist ICE with enforcement of immigration laws.  Howard County does not and has never participated in the 287(g) program.  Howard County police take action only for violations of State criminal law.


How can I find out if an ICE Detainee is in the Howard County Detention Center?

You would need to contact the Baltimore ICE office:

Frank Madrigal

Acting Field Office Director

Baltimore Field Office

202-567-9224 cell

410-637-3653 desk


What is the process if someone thinks that someone is being held only because of a civil violation of federal immigration laws or does not meet any of the criteria?

Please call the Detention Center Director immediately at 410 313-5230.

How COVID has impacted the Detention Center

What steps has the Detention Center taken to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19?

Protocols to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure have been in place since March 1.  The protocols have been continuously revised based upon recommendations of the Health Department and CDC.  Some of the protocols in place include medical assessments and temperature checks of all inmates and detainees performed daily, temperature checks and assessment questions of every person entering into the Detention Center, requiring all staff to wear full PPE (gowns, face shields, masks, gloves), issuing masks to all inmates, providing hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer to inmates and staff, allowing only remote visits, suspending in-person programs and making certain programs available remotely, placing all persons brought into the facility in quarantine for at least 14 days before moving them to housing units. 


How often is the facility sanitized?

The facility is sanitized daily and is disinfected by Citron Hygiene weekly.


How do you maintain social distancing of inmates? 

Because the Detention Center is currently under 50% capacity, all detainees have been placed in single cells, except those required to be double-celled due to increased suicide risk. The Detention Center opened an empty unit to assist with spacing.  Inmates in dorms are spread out to keep them six feet apart.


How many inmates have been symptomatic and / or tested for COVID-19?

On March 15, 2020, Howard County reported its first conformed case of COVID-19.  Between March 15 and June 24, three inmates had been tested because they had fevers detected during the daily medical assessments.  All three tested negative for COVID-19.  Starting on June 24, all inmates in the facility, including ICE detainees, and all staff were tested.  One inmate has tested positive for COVID-19.  The inmate has had no symptoms and is being re-tested on Monday June 29.  He is now housed in an isolation unit and inmates in the housing unit where he was housed are being quarantined.  One inmate from that housing unit was transferred to a different housing unit, and that second unit is also being quarantined.  No ICE detainees have tested positive for COVID-19.


Have any staff or contractors tested positive?

Two contractual nurses and one correctional officer tested positive of COVID-19 in March. They were placed on isolation status for 16 days and have since been medically cleared to return to work.  Video review showed the staff had on required PPE at all times while on duty and the Health Department recommended no further action.  One employee tested on June 24 has also tested positive and is being quarantined at home.  Video surveillance show that the employee wore required PPE at all times while in the facility.


What is the procedure when a new detainee is admitted?

All new intakes are placed on receiving/quarantine for at least 14 days. Everyone on this status is checked by medical staff daily. This check includes a temperature reading and a symptom check.  Individuals are not moved into housing units until after they quarantine period.

Resources for Detainees

What type of legal support is provided to detainees?

Capital Areas Immigrant Rights Coalition (CAIR) provides detainees legal information and services. Howard County also conducts a weekly new intake orientation and reviews the CAIR services with the detainees. This information is also accessible in the detainee handbook and posted in their housing area and on the unit computer kiosk (internal email system available to inmates). Many have private attorneys as well.


How much visitation time do detainees receive? 

Currently, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, no in-person visits are allowed, except by attorneys.  Detainees are permitted two 30-minute video visits per week. Requests can be made and are granted for additional visits when special circumstances arise. These include family emergencies, deaths in the family, etc. County inmates and detainees receive the same visitation.


Do detainees receive medical attention when needed?

Yes, detainees can request medical attention through the inmate kiosk or directly to Detention Center staff, and are seen no later than 24 hours after submitting their sick call requests.  Detainees with ongoing or chronic medical conditions are seen for follow-up visits.  In addition, all detainees are given a complete physical examination by a physician after their entry into the facility.  Currently, all inmates in the facility, including new entries in quarantine and ICE detainees, are screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms by medical staff. 


How is medical treatment different for others at the detention center?

There is no difference in the medical treatment and attention given based upon immigration status.  Like other inmates, detainees are given a complete physical upon entry into the facility and can request sick visits through the kiosk or directly to staff.  Those with medical problems are also scheduled to be seen for follow-up visits. 


Are any mental health services available? 

Yes. There are two full time mental health professionals (each works 40 hours per week) and a psychiatrist available for 16 hours per week.


How much outdoor time do detainees get? 

One hour per day, seven days per week. County inmates receive one hour per day, but only five days per week.


Is there access to education for detainees? 

The detainees receive 5 hours per week in the library and can check out up to four books at time. They also have access to computers on the unit that have Lexus Nexus legal reference material. The detainees are occasionally placed in school. County inmates receive 2 hours per week.


Are those in the detention center held without due process?

All detainees receive due process according to federal immigration laws. They have hearings and are allowed legal representation.


Is the application of equal protection different for the undocumented detainees?