Individuals at the Baker County Detention Center reported only receiving spoonfuls of food and threats of solitary confinement for speaking up.
Macclenny, Fla. – Recently, new reports emerged of immigrants detained at the Baker County Detention Center receiving alarmingly small portions of food and threats of solitary confinement. Desperate to remedy the situation, they launched a hunger strike to protest the conditions. The ACLU of Florida sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), asking the federal agency to conduct an investigation and take corrective action. ICE officials responded, acknowledging the reports but did not commit to any further investigation.
The hunger strike at Baker came after detained immigrants received meals consisting of only a spoonful of meat, beans, and carrots. After individuals asked for a sufficient amount of food and threatened to go on a hunger strike, Baker officials reportedly retaliated by threatening solitary confinement. The amount of food provided at the facility and retaliation efforts by guards violate the government's National Detention Standards, failing to meet substantial, nutritious meals that threaten their health, and require a full investigation by ICE.
Baker has a long history of providing insufficient and inedible food without nutritional value. In September 2022, the ACLU of Florida filed a federal complaint against the facility, outlining multiple issues, including individuals "being served food that is rotten, moldy, raw, and contains bugs."
"For years, time and time again, we have seen the Baker County Sheriff's Office deny people at the facility basic human treatment and violate various federal requirements. It is their responsibility to provide sufficient food to people under their care and to maintain an environment free from threats of retaliation when individuals advocate for their basic needs," said Amy Godshall, immigrants' rights attorney at the ACLU of Florida. "Baker has already proved multiple times that it is unwilling to care for people at the facility. ICE knows about this pattern of violations and harm to those in their care and should end its contract with the Baker County Sheriff's Office."
The Baker County Detention Center, operated by the Baker County Sheriff's Office, has been in the national spotlight for multiple federal complaints and lawsuits. According to the Florida Immigrant Detention Database, at least 191 complaints have been filed for multiple violations at Baker, including extreme medical neglect, voyeurism and sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions, and more.
Read the letter to ICE here.