Detainees Leaving ICE Detention from the
Polk County Jail
Des Moines, Iowa

Detainees Deported or Released
Number last 12 months 261
Out of total detained 451
Percent change:
from previous 12 months 24 %
from FY 2005 30 %
from FY 2000 25 %
Facility ranking on detainees top 40 %

Table 1: Number leaving ICE detention
from this facility

During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of 261 detainees housed at the Polk County Jail left that facility because they were deported, were released under supervision while their cases were being decided, or left ICE detention for one of a variety of other reasons. 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.

Those individuals who departed from this facility because they were leaving ICE detention made up 58 percent of the 451 detainees housed at this facility during the last 12 months. This report focuses on the reasons these individuals left ICE detention. Sometimes this report speaks of these individuals as those "exiting" ICE detention, or simply as "exits." The other 42 percent remained in ICE detention but were transferred from the Polk County Jail to other facilities.

This report covers those who left ICE custody. It excludes individuals transferred to other ICE facilities. For more information on this facility, including individuals that were transferred, 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

Rankings on the number leaving ICE detention. The Polk 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 324 facilities that had at least 10 individuals who were deported or released. Excluding those facilities with fewer than 10 exits, the Polk County Jail last year ranked in the top 40 percent nationwide in the number of individuals leaving ICE detention. This means that 40 percent of the locations contributed the same or a larger numbers of exits, while 60 percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.

Deportations. Nationally, the most common reason that a detainee left ICE detention was that they were deported from the United States. During the most recent 12 month period for which comprehensive data are available, nationwide 81 percent of those leaving ICE detention were deported or "voluntarily" departed. By way of comparison, a lower percentage of detainees (72 percent) left the country from the Polk County Jail because they were formally deported, or left under the so-called "voluntary departure" procedure.

Trends in the Number of Detainees Deported or Released

Trends in the number leaving ICE detention. When deportations and other releases during the April 2007-March 2008 period were compared with those in the previous 12 months, the Polk County Jail numbers were up by 24 percent. During the April 2006-March 2007 period the facility processed 211 "exits" as compared with 261 last year. As detailed in Table 1, numbers last year were also up 30 percent as compared with the number of those leaving ICE detention (201) during FY 2005. Exits last year were also up by 25 percent as compared with the number of exits (209) during FY 2000.

Bar chart of fymondt

Figure 1: Month-by-month number of detainees leaving this facility

Longer term exit trends. Greater detail on these long-term trends for those leaving ICE detention from the Polk County Jail are displayed in Figure 1. Here the month-by-month number of exits are graphed against the backdrop of the total detainees leaving the custody of this facility. Exits are displayed with darker shading while those transferred 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 leaving ICE detention during this period.

Fiscal Year ICE Detainees
Total Exits Percent
1999 132 67 51 %
2000 270 209 77 %
2001 373 335 90 %
2002 727 515 71 %
2003 484 299 62 %
2004 332 166 50 %
2005 297 201 68 %
2006 264 180 68 %
2007 368 206 56 %
2008 (est) 538 350 65 %

Table 2: Number of detainees leaving
this facility over the last decade

Exit trends are also summarized by fiscal year in Table 2. Year-by-year figures for the Polk County Jail are given for the total number of detainees as compared with those leaving ICE detention from the facility. The percent of detainees that left ICE detention is also given. (As mentioned above, the remaining detainees were transferred to another ICE detention facility.) 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.

Were Detained Individuals from the Local Area?

Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the Polk County Jail was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for the vast majority (89 percent) of these detainees, the Polk County Jail was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. The remaining 11 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 90 percent arrived at the Polk County Jail at some point during the very first day they were detained by ICE. There was considerable variability among detainees in the number of detention facilities they had been held in before they were finally deported or released from this facility. The number of facilities ranged as high as 4 separate locations for some detainees. These figures again are based on an analysis of the most recent 12 months for which data are available.

For the United States as a whole, last year the typical detainee stayed in two different ICE detention facilities before being deported or released - half stayed in 2 or fewer facilities, and half stayed in 2 or more. The average number of ICE facilities detainees moved through was 1.9. Detainees at the Polk County Jail on average had stayed at somewhat fewer (1.2) ICE facilities.

Reason Left ICE Facility Profile U.S Profile
Number Percent Percent
Deported/Removed 187 72 % 72 %
Bonded out 40 15 % 8 %
U.S. Marshal or Other Agency 31 12 % 3 %
Orders of Recognizance or Supervision 2 1 % 5 %
Withdrawal 1 0 % 1 %
Died 0 . 0 %
Escaped 0 . 0 %
Paroled 0 . 0 %
Proceedings Terminated 0 . 2 %
Voluntary departure 0 . 10 %
Total 261 100 % 100 %

Table 3: Reasons individuals left ICE detention during the last 12 months

Why Did Detainees Leave ICE Detention?

ICE records one of twenty-three reasons a detainee left ICE detention. As shown in Table 3, these reasons fall into ten general categories -- from leaving because one is deported or removed, to leaving because one escaped or the individual died while in custody.

Deportation. As mentioned earlier, the most common reason detainees left the Polk County Jail was that they were deported. A total of 187 individuals (72 percent) were deported or removed from the Polk County Jail during the most recent 12 month period for which data are available. (ICE data did not distinguish between deportations and removals, and the terms are used interchangeably in this report.)

Bonded out. A group of individuals (40 or 15 percent) were also "bonded out." This generally covers situations where the individual posts a bond and is released while awaiting a decision on their deportation (removal) case. The amount of the bond is set by ICE, or by an Immigration Judge. Many individuals are not eligible to be released because their continued detention is considered mandatory under provisions in the immigration laws.

Transferred to criminal custody. A total of 31 individuals (12 percent) left this facility last year because they were turned over to U.S. Marshals or to some other government agency. This typically occurs because there is an outstanding criminal case against the individual, or the individual is needed as a material witness in a criminal case.

Orders. Orders are additional mechanisms that are sometimes used to release a person while their case is pending, or awaiting removal. Under an "order of recognizance" an individual is released with reporting conditions while in deportation proceedings and awaiting a final decision. A second type of order ("order of supervision") releases an individual after a final order of removal. Here an individual is released because ICE has not met the time limits the law imposes for deporting the individual. There were 2 (1 percent) who left the Polk County Jail detention for these reasons: 2 with orders of recognizance, and none with an order of supervision.

Escape and death. Nationally, there were 92 individuals who escaped ICE detention during the latest 12 month period for which data are available, and 8 individuals were recorded as having died in detention. No one was recorded by the Polk County Jail as either escaping or dying last year. Over the past decade, one escape was recorded from this facility, but no deaths.

As shown in Table 3, no one was recorded as leaving the Polk County Jail during the past 12 months for the following reasons: Paroled, Proceedings Terminated and Voluntary departure. See "Reasons for Leaving ICE Detention" for a description of these categories.

Pie chart of release_grp

Figure 2: Reasons individuals left ICE detention

Comparing Release Reasons Against The National Picture

In many respects release reasons for the Polk County Jail departed from the national picture. No one left as a voluntary departure from this facility, while this was true for 10 percent of all individuals nationally.

In addition, differences were seen for individuals released on bond (15 versus 8 percent), those released to the U.S. Marshal or other agency (12 versus 3 percent), and detainees released on orders of recognizance or supervision (1 versus 5 percent).

The facility's percentages fell within 3 percentage points of the national figures for all other categories.


Which nationalities predominate? Last year in the United States, individuals from Mexico comprised the largest number of those leaving ICE detention. Some 53.6 percent of all detainees recorded Mexico as their country of origin. The Polk County Jail had a much larger proportion of detainees from Mexico - 87 percent among their exits. Detainees from Mexico were also the largest single nationality group among those leaving detention from the facility.

Nationalities Ranked in Top 10 Left ICE Detention
Total Deported/
- ALL 261 187 71.6 %
1 Mexico 227 168 74.0 %
2 El Salvador 16 11 68.7 %
3 Guatemala 6 4 66.6 %
4 Honduras 2 0 0.0 %
New Zealand 2 1 50.0 %
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 0 0.0 %
China 1 1 100.0 %
Ecuador 1 0 0.0 %
India 1 1 100.0 %
Mali 1 0 0.0 %
Panama 1 1 100.0 %
South Korea 1 0 0.0 %
Tanzania 1 0 0.0 %

Table 4: Numbers leaving ICE detention by nationality
during the last 12 months

In descending order, the other top nationalities after Mexico that made up those leaving ICE detention from the Polk County Jail last year were: El Salvador (6%), Guatemala (2%), Honduras (1%) and New Zealand (1%). This compared to the United States as a whole where the other top five nationalities after Mexico were Honduras (11.0%), Guatemala (10.0%), El Salvador (8.4%) and Dominican Republic (1.6%).

Pie chart of nat

Figure 3: Nationality of those
leaving ICE detention

For the frequency for each of the other nationalities among those leaving ICE detention from the Polk County Jail last year see Table 4.

Deportations and voluntary departures by nationality. Within the nationalities that made up those listed in Table 4 with more than one individual, the proportion deported or voluntarily departing varied from 0 percent to 74 percent. As mentioned above, this compares with 72 percent for all detainees.

With the highest rate of 74 percent were detainees from Mexico where 227 individuals were deported or took voluntary departure. At the other end of the range were detainees from Honduras, where none ended up deported or were allowed voluntary departure.

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