New Report Compiles Four Years of Abuse Against Immigrants at ICE Detention Facility in Louisiana

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Advocates say the Winn Correctional Center (Winn), where an ICE detention contract expires in six months, represents the cruelty of the entire U.S. incarceration system

Louisiana  — Today, Detention Watch Network, the Southeast Dignity Not Detention Coalition, the National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), and RFK Human Rights released an ‘Anthology of Abuse’ on the still operational Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana. Its short history as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility is littered with both individual and systemic reports of horrific conditions, egregious violence, and abuse of authority. The report calls for the release of people detained and the permanent closure of the facility when its ICE detention contract expires in May 2024. Over 30 national, state, and local organizations are calling for its closure. 

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties issued a scathing report of Winn, documenting a “culture and conditions that can lead to abuse,” urging for the immediate cessation of any transfers or new bookings and further recommending that ICE draw down the population to zero until conditions were improved. 

Some of the cruel conditions and practices reported by immigrants detained at the Winn Correctional Center include systemic medical neglect, racist, homophobic, and transphobic abuse, forced deportations, retaliation against immigrants advocating for basic needs like a wheelchair, and dehumanizing sleeping and food provisions.

Nearly all requests for release on parole at Winn are denied, an issue in Louisiana generally that became the topic of a lawsuit in 2019, as a result of which a federal judge ruled that ICE was unlawfully refusing to release asylum seekers in the state. Still, in 2020, the New Orleans ICE Field Office denied nearly 94 percent of all requests for redetermination of release on parole, and immigration judges at Winn denied bond 85 percent of the time.

“The record of abuse and mistreatment at the Winn Correctional Center — from the physical and psychological abuse to the deliberate medical neglect — is long and deeply disturbing," said Caitlin Bellis, Policy and Community Advocacy Attorney at the National Immigration Project. "President Biden and the Department of Homeland Security have a responsibility to put an end to the cruelty ICE imposes every day on people detained at Winn by terminating the contract that allows the facility to operate."

A coalition of advocates in Louisiana—the Southeast Dignity Not Detention coalition—has formed to support people detained at Winn and other facilities under the New Orleans ICE Field Office, amplify their stories and demands, and call for closure of the network of deeply entrenched jails in the region. Groups in this coalition have highlighted Winn as one of the clearest examples of the grievous inadequacies and culture of violence in immigration detention.

“ICE insists through internal inspections that Winn complies with ‘strict detention standards’ despite years of evidence exposing the facility’s inhumanity. We cannot settle for oversight and promises to address conditions. The damning trail of evidence shared in this brief demonstrates that the only solution is to shut down Winn Correctional Center, release the people inside, and stop using the facility to jail any population of people again,” reads the report co-authored by Hillary Li, Detention Watch Network’s policy counsel.


Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy's dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit 

National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those who bear the brunt of racist criminal and immigration systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.