Nashville-Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced this week that his office will no longer contract to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees — apparently because he no longer wishes to deal with the politics of it.
Hall, a Democrat, announced this in a press release this week.
The new policy goes into effect on December 1. Hall decided this after he met with local advocacy groups, Mayor John Cooper, Metro council members, and what the press release described as internal stakeholders.
“The continued confusion and hyper-political nature of this issue has become a distraction from sheriff’s office priorities,” the press release quoted Hall as saying.
“The number of individuals detained as a result of this contract is less than one percent of overall jail bookings; however, I spend an inordinate amount of my time debating its validity.”
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Karla West told The Tennessee Star in an email Wednesday that members of that office want to address what they describe as more pressing issues.
“It is time to move on and bring focus to issues, such as mental health, which impacts 30 percent of the population,” West said.
“Truth is, there are people on the extreme right of this subject and extreme left (hyper-political) and neither wants to listen to the facts if it doesn’t support their beliefs. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office has been dealing with this subject for 15 years, and we have overestimated people’s interest in the facts,” she added.
According to Hall’s press release, since 1996, the Metro government, not the DCSO, has received revenue from a council-approved contract to house various federal detainees including ICE.
The sheriff’s office is currently in negotiations with the United States Marshal Service to remove ICE from that contract. The DCSO, under a renewed council-approved agreement, will continue to house individuals who are in USMS custody, according to the press release.
West said her office did not benefit much from the arrangement.
“The number of people we are talking about is, on average, 16 people per month that resulted in less than $1,500 per month in revenue to Metro Government,” she said. “It’s important to point out we are not housing ICE detainees anymore. We are still following state law and honoring detainers and warrants. ICE detention officers will know when someone is being released and will be given an opportunity to pick the detainee up prior to being released from jail.”
In his press release, Hall said he will limit DCSO’s future ICE interactions to those required by state law.
The Star asked U.S. Marshals for comment, but we had yet to hear from them before Wednesday night.
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