Reports on GBV, Rights & Justice

Home Breadcrumb spacer The Real Alternatives to Family Detention

The Real Alternatives to Family Detention

Alternatives to detention are effective, humane, and comply with domestic and international law. Most asylum-seekers pose little flight risk.

The Facts

The vast majority of detained families are bona fide asylum seekers under U.S. law.
Recently-released USCIS data shows that 88 percent of families are proving to the government that they have credible claims to protection.

There is no humane way to detain families.
Experts show that the stress of detention can damage a child’s developing brain and re-traumatize victims of violence.

Pressure is mounting on the Obama Administration to end family detention. 
Three quarters of the President’s own party in Congress have called for the practice to end.

Where a more substantial flight risk cannot otherwise be mitigated, proven alternatives to detention (ATDs) should be used instead of incarceration.

  • ATDs cost far less than detention.
  • ATDs are extremely effective.
  • Alternatives are widely used in the pre-trial criminal justice context.
  • The Administration has signaled a commitment to greater exploration of ATD. 

What kinds of alternatives are appropriate and effective?

The most restrictive alternatives, like ankle bracelets, are also the most costly. Community-support ATD models are far more appropriate. Previous pilots have shown excellent results.

For more details, download the fact sheet. 

  • Modified: Monday, November 09, 2015
  • Published: