CREEC and SPLC Send Letter Urging Etowah County Officials to Make Outdoor Recreation Available to ICE Detainees As Part of Jail Renovations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, March 8, 2018 Civil Rights Groups Urge Etowah County Commission and Sheriff to Include Outdoor Recreation Access in Detention Center Renovations Holding detained immigrants inside for months, even years without access to fresh air and sunlight may violate their constitutional rights GADSDEN, Ala. — The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter today to the Etowah County Commission and Etowah County Sheriff, urging officials to include outdoor recreation for immigration detainees in renovation plans for the Etowah County Detention Center (ECDC). The ECDC, located in Gadsden, Alabama, holds about 300 detained immigrants under a contract with the U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. The existing facility does not provide detainees with access to outdoor recreation, which means that some detainees spend months, or even years, without going outside. Etowah County is considering renovations to the ECDC, but the plans do not appear to include outdoor recreational space. The lack of outdoor recreational space implicates the due process rights of detainees under the U.S. Constitution, the letter says. “Not only do immigrants detained by ICE have a constitutional right to outdoor recreation while they are held at ECDC, access to physical activity, sunlight, and fresh air is crucial to their well-being,” Tim Fox, co-executive director of CREEC, said. “There is no reason the sheriff and the county cannot make outdoor recreation available to ICE detainees as part of their other changes to the facility.” ICE’s own Performance Based National Detention Standards state that facilities should provide at least one hour, and preferably at least...

CREEC Files Lawsuit Demanding DHS and ICE Documentation of Conditions at Immigration Detention Centers

Lawsuit Filed Demanding Homeland Security and ICE Documentation of Conditions at Two Immigration Detention Centers FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DENVER (February 7, 2018) – The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) has filed a lawsuit seeking the disclosure of documentation of detainee deaths, alleged abuse and other substandard conditions of confinement at the Adelanto and Etowah immigration detention facilities.  CREEC is represented pro bono by Thomas B. Kelley and Amber R. Gonzales of Ballard Spahr LLP. The suit claims that U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have illegally ignored requests for information on conditions at the two immigration detention centers.  CREEC filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in August and September 2017 seeking information on deaths of people in detention, medical and mental health care conditions, solitary confinement use, and sexual assault allegations at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a private facility operated by the GEO Group in Adelanto, California, and the Etowah County Detention Center, a county jail in Gadsden, Alabama. “Adelanto and Etowah are widely regarded as among the most concerning immigration detention centers in the country,” said Tim Fox, co-executive director of CREEC.  “The government cannot ignore its obligation to provide public access to documentation shedding light on the conditions at these facilities.” The lawsuit alleges that, despite a requirement by law that a response must be provided within 30 days, ICE has failed to respond to any of CREEC’s requests.  The lawsuit seeks an order from the court requiring ICE to release the requested documents. “We’re excited at the opportunity to move the ball toward accountability...

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans Class action settlement provides for captioning on LED boards at non-concert events. DENVER January 25, 2018 – Kirstin Kurlander and Kroenke Arena Company are pleased to announce that the Pepsi Center will start providing open captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing sports fans beginning this fall. The Pepsi Center — a roughly 18,000-seat arena in downtown Denver — is home to the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and Colorado Mammoth.  Starting with the first preseason Avalanche game in October of this year, the Pepsi Center will caption all of the information spoken over the public address system on LED ribbon boards mounted on the front of the third level at the four corners of the arena. Ms. Kurlander, a deaf woman and Mammoth season-ticket holder, filed a class action lawsuit against the company that owns and operates the Pepsi Center in 2016, after informally requesting captions at the arena.  The Pepsi Center began providing captions on handheld devices — smartphones or tablets — in late 2016, and has been working with Ms. Kurlander and her attorneys at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) on a solution that provides open captioning that is generally visible throughout the arena.  The parties reached agreement at the end of last year and Judge Wiley Y. Daniel granted preliminary approval on January 9, 2018. “I am very pleased that the Pepsi Center will provide captioning and I look forward to attending lacrosse and other games there with full access to the information broadcast in the arena,” said Ms....

CREEC, Disabled Professional Women File Amicus Brief Supporting Title III Class Actions

When an accessibility barrier at a chain of businesses affects people with similar disabilities in the same way — narrow queue lines at a restaurant; steps at the entrance to a store; parking lots with excessive slope — the most efficient way to address these violations is through a class action under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against the common owner or operator.  This was the conclusion reached by a federal district court in Pennsylvania in an order certifying a class of people with mobility disabilities challenging noncompliant parking lots at Steak ‘N Shake restaurants around the country. Steak ‘N Shake challenged this decision in the Third Circuit, supported by two amicus briefs on behalf of various business associations including the National Retail Federation and the Chamber of Commerce. CREEC — for itself and disability rights legends Corbett O’Toole, Julie Farrar, Carrie Ann Lucas, and Julie Reiskin — filed an amicus brief to the Third Circuit in support of the plaintiffs and the righteousness of Title III class actions.  Eve Hill, of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, and Michelle Uzeta drafted an amicus brief on behalf of Disability Rights Pennsylvania and the National Disability Rights Network, also supporting the plaintiffs, and explaining the importance of not just achieving, but maintaining access for people with disabilities. CREEC’s brief explained the many ways in which Title III cases — based on objective measurements and the DOJ’s design standards — are ideally suited for class treatment.  CREEC also took the opportunity to respond to Steak ‘N Shake’s amici — the business associations — who filed briefs full of insults and random context-free...

CREEC, CIVIC File Litigation Hold to Preserve Sexual Assault Records of People in Immigration Detention

For Immediate Release, November 7, 2017 LOS ANGELES, CA – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) are putting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on notice over ICE’s plan to destroy the records of immigrants in detention, including deaths in custody, solitary confinement and sexual assault. In late August, ICE petitioned the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for permission to start routinely destroying 11 kinds of records on several proposed timelines. CIVIC and CREEC sent ICE a litigation hold letter which, according to Tim Fox, an attorney and the Co-Executive Director of CREEC, “places ICE on notice that litigation may be commenced concerning the topics covered in the letter, and thus ICE has a duty to preserve related documents, and this is true even if NARA approves ICE’s petition.” “These records are vital to anticipated litigation. They are essential to obtaining justice for those individuals who’ve needlessly suffered at the hands of government officials,” says Christina Fialho, an attorney and the Co-Founder/Executive Director of CIVIC. Earlier this year, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint after uncovering, through a Freedom of Information Act request, widespread sexual abuse, assault and harassment in U.S. immigration detention facilities. CIVIC uncovered that between January 2010 and July 2016, Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General received over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse against DHS’s component agencies. But the Inspector General investigated less than 1 percent of these cases. For example, Rosanna Santos was sexually harassed by a male guard at the York County...

CREEC, Disability Rights Organizations File Cake Amicus!

CREEC joined nine other disability rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in support of the gay couple turned away from a Colorado bakery based on the owner’s prejudice.  The Colorado Court of Appeals held in favor of the couple, recognizing that the baker violated their rights under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”), and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review.  The case is currently before the United States Supreme Court on the baker’s argument that it violates his first amendment rights of free exercise and free expression to force him to make a cake that would be used in a gay wedding.  The statute at issue — CADA  — prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on disability as well as sexual orientation and a number of other protected classes; Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits disability discrimination in public accommodations. CREEC and other organizations filed their amicus brief to caution the Court that recognizing personal scruples exceptions — including free exercise or free expression — to the general requirement that public accommodations serve everyone without discrimination could significantly jeopardize enforcement of Title III and the protections it affords people with disabilities to fully participate in our nation’s economic and commercial life. CREEC strongly urges the Supreme Court to affirm the Colorado Court of Appeals and reaffirm our commitment that American businesses are #OPENTOALL. We would also like to thank the rockstars at Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld who wrote the brief, and our fellow amici for the terrific discussions the brief engendered. 16-111, AC...