Black detainees in Haiti face inhumane, torturous conditions without clear avenues for release.

by Rebecca Chowdhury, Prism

Patrick Julney was first detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2019. He had been living in the U.S. since he was a young child attending high school in New Jersey, where he played on the football team and fell in love with Laura Julney, who was a cheerleader at the time. They married in 2021.

Now, they interact over glitchy WhatsApp calls. Julney was deported to Haiti in July, where he faced four months of detention at Haiti’s National Penitentiary. Julney and advocates say his deportation was a reprisal for speaking out against conditions in ICE detention centers. As a Black Muslim, Julney witnessed how anti-Blackness undergirds the immigration and criminal legal system and experienced the power and difficulties of organizing to abolish this system. Facing abysmal conditions in the National Penitentiary, Julney feared for his life until he was released on Oct. 24. He is now living with family friends in Haiti and trying to piece his life together.

Prisoners put their hands through the bars where a mural depicting slavery is painted

Haitian authorities didn’t charge Julney with any crime in Haiti, yet the country has a longstanding illegal practice of detaining deportees who were formerly incarcerated in the U.S. Julney says there were approximately 30 other detainees from the U.S. in the penitentiary even though, according to Haitian law, it is illegal to detain deportees from the U.S., regardless of their criminal history.

During one of his interviews with Prism, while held in the penitentiary, Julney had to shout to be heard over a cacophony of voices in an overcrowded jail cell prior to his release.

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