ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency has transferred its last detainee from the Howard County Detention Center. The County notified ICE on the afternoon of March 19, 2021 that it was terminating the contract to house federal ICE detainees at the Howard County Detention Center. ICE had 60 days to move any current detainees housed in Howard County. At the time the contract was canceled there were eight ICE detainees still housed at the Detention Center.
I want to reiterate my continued thanks and appreciation to our Department of Corrections for their vigilance to maintain public safety through the care and compassion for the inmates they house. During the past year, our county has had thoughtful conversations and passionate engagement in regard to the policy of our Department of Corrections housing ICE detainees. I believe it is in Howard County’s best interest currently to terminate the contract and end the county’s relationship with ICE.
In September 2020, the Howard County Department of Corrections updated its policy to only hold ICE detainees at the Howard County Detention Center who were convicted of a crime of violence as defined in Md. Criminal Law Code Annotated section 14-101. Under the previous policy, the Department of Corrections could house ICE detainees who have been charged with or convicted of jailable offenses. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep the jail population low, the detainees in the Detention Center under the contract with ICE generally were convicted of or charged with serious crimes.
Howard County never participated in the 287(g) program like in Cecil, Frederick, and Harford counties during the 25 years of the ICE contract.