Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
Berks County Jail
Leesport, Pennsylvania

Detainees Transferred
Number last 12 months 494
Out of total detained 595
Percent change:
from previous 12 months 155 %
from FY 2005 263 %
from FY 2000 71 %
Facility ranking on transfers top 28 %

Table 1: Transfers

During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of 494 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from the Berks County Jail where they had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average stay for these individuals before their transfer was 18 days. The use of this facility for the temporary housing of federal immigration detainees was arranged through an intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) under which payments by ICE to another governmental agency are made for housing federal detainees. Additional information about the arrangement, including whether a private company may operate the facility for the government, was not available at the time this report was posted.

Transfers made up 83 percent of the 595 detainees who in one way or another left this facility during the last 12 months. This report focuses just on these transfers. The remaining 17 percent of individuals who departed from the Berks County Jail last year actually left ICE detention. These individuals were deported from the country, released under supervision while their cases was being decided, or left ICE detention for a variety of other reasons. For more information on this facility please see additional TRAC reports in this series.

This report series is based upon analyses conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University of 3.4 million government records tracking each individual who passed through an ICE detention facility during the past decade. The most recent 12 month period for which comprehensive data are available is for April 2007 through March 2008. See About the Data.

How This Facility Ranks Nationally

Detainee transfer rankings. The Berks County Jail was one of 1,528 facilities that were used to house immigration detainees during the last decade, and one of 654 facilities nationwide that housed ICE detainees during the most recent 12 month period. Of these 654, there were 403 facilities that had at least 10 ICE detainee transfers last year. Excluding those facilities with fewer than 10 transfers, the Berks County Jail last year ranked in the top 28 percent nationwide in the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities. This means that 28 percent of the locations contributed the same or a larger numbers of transfers, while 72 percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.

Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the Berks County Jail their average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was 18 days last year. Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population, this average of 18 days placed Berks County Jail in the top 34 percent of all facilities nationwide. That is, for detainees who are transferred, 34 percent of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year, while 66 percent of detention facilities had shorter average stays.

Trends in the Number of Detainees Transferred

Transfers last year. When the ICE detainee transfers during the April 2007-March 2008 period were compared with those in the previous 12 months, the Berks County Jail numbers were sharply up by 155 percent. During the previous April 2006-March 2007 period the facility processed 194 transfers as compared with 494 last year. As detailed in Table 1, transfers last year were also up by 263 percent as compared with the number of transfers (136) during FY 2005. Transfers last year were also up by 71 percent as compared with the number of transfers (289) during FY 2000.

Bar chart of fymondt

Figure 1: Month-by-month detainee transfers from this facility

Longer term transfer trends. Greater detail on these long-term trends in ICE transfers from the Berks County Jail are displayed in Figure 1. Here the month-by-month number of transfers are graphed against the backdrop of the total detainees leaving the custody of this facility. Transfers are displayed with darker shading while those deported or released appear with lighter shading. As is readily apparent, considerable variation has occurred over time in both the overall numbers of detainees as well as the volume of transfers during this period.

Fiscal Year ICE Detainees
Total Transfers Percent
1999 908 592 65 %
2000 593 289 49 %
2001 803 488 61 %
2002 600 292 49 %
2003 608 322 53 %
2004 926 686 74 %
2005 248 136 55 %
2006 171 117 68 %
2007 430 347 81 %
2008 (est) 694 584 84 %

Table 2: Detainee transfers from this facility over the last decade

Transfer trends for the last decade are summarized by fiscal year in Table 2. Year-by-year figures for the Berks County Jail are given for the total number of detainees as compared with the number transferred from the facility. The percent of detainees that end up being transferred from the facility is also given. (As mentioned above, the remaining detainees end up deported, released under supervision, or leave ICE detention for some other reason.) Because data for all twelve months of the most recent fiscal year are not yet available, the FY 2008 numbers (October 2007 through September 2008) are estimated based upon reporting for the first six months.

Origins and Destinations

Were these detainees arrested locally? Where did those that ended up being transferred from the Berks County Jail last year originate? Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the Berks County Jail was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for the vast majority (88 percent) of these detainees, the Berks County Jail was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. The remaining 12 percent had been transferred in from another ICE detention facility.

We can also look at how quickly they arrived at this facility after they were first detained. A total of 93 percent arrived at the Berks County Jail at some point during the very first day they were detained by ICE. This percentage is also based on an analysis of the most recent 12 months for which data are available.

How soon did transfers occur? Nationally, the median number of days before an ICE detainee is transferred to another facility was 3 days last year. That means that half of all transfers occurred on or before the third day, while half had longer stays before they were transferred on to another ICE facility. Note that nationally the average stay at an ICE detention facility before an individual is transferred is substantially longer - 18 days. This is because while most detainees have relatively short stays before ICE transfers them elsewhere, sometimes stays are lengthy and these lengthy stays raise the average to above the median stay of 3 days.

For the Berks County Jail last year, the median stay before a detainee was transferred was 8 days. This is longer than the national figure. The average stay before transfers occurred was longer - 18 days - than the median stay. As noted above, this figure placed the facility in the top 34 percent among ICE detention facilities nationwide in the average number of days a detainee spent before he or she was transferred.

Pie chart of diffDCO

Figure 2: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Where did those transferred get sent? ICE currently has great discretion about where in the United States transferred detainees are sent. For the period covered by these data, ICE divided the country into geographic regions or areas and assigned each to one of 56 document control offices or DCOs for the purpose of keeping track of detainees. Available data allow us to examine whether the transfer occurred within the same DCO or the transfer was to a different DCO. For the nation as a whole during the latest 12 months, about six out of ten transfers (59 percent) were within the same DCO, while the remaining four out of ten (41 percent) were to a different DCO.

Transfers Facility Profile U.S Overall
Profile (%)
Number Percent
Within region (DCO) 459 93% 59%
Outside region (DCO) 35 7.1% 41%
Total 494 100% 100%

Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months

Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the Berks County Jail stacks up against this national pattern. Last year, 93 percent of the transfers from the Berks County Jail were to locations in the same region -- facilities under the control of same ICE docket control office. Only a few of the transfers went to detention facilities in a different region (DCO).


Which nationalities predominate? Last year in the United States, individuals from Mexico comprised the largest number of those transferred by ICE. Some 37 percent of all transfers recorded Mexico as their country of origin. The Berks County Jail had a similar proportion of detainees from Mexico - 49 percent - among their transfers. Detainees from Mexico were also the largest single nationality group among the transfers at the facility.

Nationalities Ranked in Top 10 Transfers
Total To Diff. DCO % Diff DCO
- ALL 494 35 7.1 %
1 Mexico 240 17 7.1 %
2 Guatemala 58 3 5.2 %
3 Honduras 40 3 7.5 %
4 Dominican Republic 34 0 0.0 %
5 El Salvador 13 0 0.0 %
6 Ecuador 12 0 0.0 %
Jamaica 12 1 8.3 %
8 Brazil 10 2 20.0 %
9 China 9 4 44.4 %
10 India 6 1 16.7 %
Trinidad and Tobago 6 0 0.0 %

Table 4: Transfers by nationality during the last 12 months

In descending order, the other top nationalities after Mexico that made up transfers from the Berks County Jail last year were: Guatemala (12%), Honduras (8%), Dominican Republic (7%) and El Salvador (3%).

For the frequency for each of the nationalities within the top 10 among transfers from the Berks County Jail last year see Table 4.

Pie chart of nat

Figure 3: Transfers by nationality

Out-of-region transfers by nationality. Within the nationalities that made up those listed in Table 4, the proportion transferred out of the region varied from 0 percent to 44 percent. As mentioned above, on average 7 percent of detainees transferred from the Berks County Jail were sent to detention locations outside the region.

For China with a total of 9 transfers, 44 percent of transfers were out-of-region transfers. More than one country was tied with the lowest out-of-region transfer rates (see Table 4).

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