Request to establish commission of inquiry into child abuse incidents in Arizona detention centers


Attorney at Law


TO: The Honorable Governor Doug Ducey
      1700 West Washington
      Phoenix, AZ 85007
      Fax: 602/542-7601

FROM: Uncage and Reunite Families Legal Committee

RE: Request to establish commission of inquiry into child abuse incidents in Arizona detention centers


DATE: September 6, 2018


Governor Ducey:

         When news first broke of child sexual abuse charges against an employee of an Arizona Southwest Key migrant detention center and other, similar incidents, you expressed horror at that situation and directed the Department of Health Services to conduct an inquiry. We shared your horror and, indeed, called on DHS and the Attorney General to investigate. We were encouraged by your directive to DHS. Unfortunately, we are deeply disappointed in the failure of DHS to squarely address the abuse crisis at Southwest Key. Key questions of owner responsibility, adequacy of existing laws and rules, and means of preventing future abuse went unanswered for the simple reason that DHS never asked them. Rather, the scope of the “investigation”, as defined by DHS, did not even mention sexual abuse; and DHS limited its review to inspections to determine compliance with existing regulatory requirements. Multiple incidents of child abuse including sexual abuse involving multiple employees have occurred at multiple Southwest Key facilities over the past two to three years. The sexual abuse incidents include at least eight victims at a single facility that went undetected for some eleven months. These facts prove that existing regulations are incapable of preventing or minimizing abuse.

         Therefore we are calling on you to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the incidents of abuse at Southwest Key detention centers and the conditions at all other, similar facilities, and to recommend appropriate responses, including sanctions and proposals for legislation and rulemaking. The commission should include representatives of your office, the Attorney General, DHS and the Department of Child Safety, plus such other governmental representatives as may be deemed appropriate. It also should include citizen representatives including but not limited to members of the child mental health professions, the immigrant rights community and concerned clergy.

         We urge you to establish such a commission expeditiously. We hope you will respond to this request and open discussion regarding establishing such a commission with us and other concerned community organizations. A representative of our organization will be contacting your office shortly to request a meeting with you or an aide. Meanwhile, we will be taking this demand to concerned community organizations and governmental entities. We will not go away until the problem of abuse at Southwest Key is meaningfully addressed.  

         A copy of our resolution, embodying this demand, accompanies this letter.




Legal Committee,
Uncage and Reunite Families


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