Transfers of ICE Detainees from the
Polk County Jail
Des Moines, Iowa
Table 1: Transfers
During the most recent 12 month period for which data are available, a total of
32 detainees were transferred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
from the Polk County Jail where they
had been temporarily housed to other facilities. The average
stay for these individuals before their transfer was 7 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 80 percent of the 40 detainees who in one way or
another left this facility during the last 12 months.
This report focuses just on these transfers.
The remaining individuals who departed from the Polk 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
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 1.7 million government
records tracking each individual who passed through an ICE detention facility
during fiscal year 2015. This most recent 12 month period for which comprehensive data are
available covers October 2014 through September 2015.
See About the Data.
How This Facility Ranks Nationally
Detainee transfer rankings. The Polk County Jail was one of 637 facilities
nationwide that housed ICE detainees during the most recent 12 month period. Of these
637, there were 409 facilities that had at least 10 ICE detainee transfers
last year. Excluding those facilities with fewer than 10 transfers, the
Polk County Jail last year ranked in the top 77 percent nationwide in
the number of individuals it transferred to other ICE facilities.
This means that 77 percent of the locations contributed the same or a
larger numbers of transfers, while 23
percent had a smaller number. See Table 1.
Average length of stay before transfer. Once detainees arrived at the Polk County Jail their
average length of stay before being transferred on to another ICE facility was 7 days last year.
Ranking facilities from longest to shortest detention stays for their transfer population,
this average of 7 days placed Polk County Jail
in the top 47 percent of all facilities nationwide.
That is, for detainees who are transferred, 47 percent
of ICE detention facilities have the same or longer average stays last year,
while 53 percent of detention facilities had shorter average stays.
Origins and Destinations
Were these detainees arrested locally? Where did those that ended up being
transferred from the Polk 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 Polk County Jail was
the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held.
According to ICE records, for the vast majority (97 percent) of
these detainees, the Polk County Jail was the first place they were
sent when they were detained by ICE.
The remaining 3 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
Again, a total of 97 percent arrived at the Polk 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 1 days last year. That
means that half of all transfers occurred on or before the 1st 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 longer - 12 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.
For the Polk County Jail last year, the median stay before a detainee
was transferred was one day. This is the same as the national figure.
The average stay before transfers occurred was longer - 7 days - than the median stay. As noted above,
this figure placed the facility
in the top 47 percent among ICE detention facilities nationwide in the average number of days a detainee spent before he or she was transferred.
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 152 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, 54 percent
were within the same DCO, while the remaining 46 percent were to a
Table 3: Transfer destinations during last 12 months
Figure 2 and accompanying Table 3 provide some comparative figures for how the
Polk County Jail stacks up against this national pattern.
Last year, 97 percent of the transfers from the Polk 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 41.3
percent of all transfers recorded Mexico as their country of origin.
The Polk County Jail had a much larger proportion of detainees from Mexico - 84 percent - among their transfers.
Detainees from Mexico were also the largest single nationality group among the transfers at the facility.
Figure 3: Transfers by nationality
In descending order,
the top nationalities that made up transfers from the Polk County Jail last year were:
, El Salvador (6%), Guatemala (6%) and Burma (3%).
Table 4: Transfers by nationality
|| 3.1 %
|| 0.0 %
|| 0.0 %
|| 50.0 %
|| 0.0 %
during the last 12 months
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 50 percent.
As mentioned above, on average 3 percent of detainees transferred from the Polk County Jail were sent to detention
locations outside the region.
For Guatemala with a total of 2 transfers, 50 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).