Etowah County Detention Center | Immigration Detention Justice Center
Immigration Detention Justice Center
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Etowah County Detention Center

The Etowah County Detention Center, located in Gadsden Alabama, contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigration detainees.  The detention facility is unique in that it only holds immigrant detainees are have been issued orders of removal by an immigration judge.  Thus, inmates at Etowah are usually awaiting deportation, or a decision on an appeal or motion to reopen their cases.  In December of 2010, federal authorities decided to no longer house immigration inmates at Etowah, but after extensive lobbying by local officials, the contract with ICE was renewed.  The Etowah County Detention Center serves as the only immigration detention center in Alabama.

Contacting the Facility


Etowah County Detention Center
827 Forrest Avenue
Gadsden, Alabama 35901



Contacting A Detainee

To speak to a detainee by phone, the inmate will have to call family and friends.  The Etowah County Detention Center staff will not connect you directly to a detainee, nor will it pass along any messages.  The only exception is if there is a family emergency, in which case a sargeant on staff will handle the matter.  Because detainees’ phone calls to family and friends are not free, you will have to add money to his or her phone account.

To deposit money in the person’s phone or other account, go online to the Talton Communications website.  If you would like to send money by mail, you can send a money order to Pinnacle Public Services, LLC, 1108 SE 6th Street, Ontario, Oregon 97914.  Make sure to include the immigration detainee’s alien number both on the envelope and the money order.  Money orders take approximately 2 weeks to clear.  If you would like to deposit money at the facility, bring cash or a credit card to the facility and use the kiosk located in the “dispatch room” of the jail.

To visit the a person at the detention facility in Etowah County, the immigration detainee will have to add your name to a visitation list.  It is then up to the inmate to contact you to let you know the date and time of the visit.

To send mail to the person, use the following address:

Inmate Name and Alien Number
Etowah County Detention Center
827 Forrest Avenue
Gadsden, Alabama 35901

Contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

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The ICE deportation officers can be reached at 256-543-8154.  When you call, have available the last three digits of the inmate’s alien number so that your call can be routed to the right officer.

Getting Released

Immigration Bonds

Most detainees at Etowah will not be eligible for release on an immigration bond, because they have already been ordered removed from the United States.  In some rare cases, however, a person may be granted release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  To find out an ICE detainee’s custody status, call the Etowah ICE office at 256-543-8154 and ask to speak to the officer assigned to the person’s case.

The Removal Process

Etowah County houses immigrants who already have been ordered removed from the United States.  Many are still in ICE custody because they are awaiting a decision on a pending appeal, or are awaiting deportation.  Also, many detainees at the facility cannot be removed because they have expressed a fear of returning to their home countries, and are seeking relief in the form of withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture.  While many detainees at Etowah County Detention Facility will not see an immigration judge, many may nonetheless be eligible for some sort of relief from deportation or incarceration.  To find out if a person can obtain such relief — whether it is through appealing a decision or reopening a case — contact an immigration or criminal attorney.

Facility Background

Etowah County Detention Center is operated by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, which has housed immigration detainees since 1998.  The jail has room for 856 inmates, but only 350 are allocated for ICE detainees.  The facility houses immigration detainees pursuant to an Intergovernmental Services Agreement (IGSA) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  While ICE had originally planned to terminate its agreement with Etowah, it ended up renewing it in April of 2011 after fierce lobbying efforts in the nation’s capital.  (Ending the contract would have cost Etowah County $5.2 million in revenue, county officials disclosed.)  According to The Sand Mountain Reporter, ICE has committed to housing an average of 325 immigration detainees at the facility.  On November 1, 2011, ICE leased the third floor of the Etowah County Courthouse to use as office space.

In 2008, the ACLU reported that it had received numerous complaints from inmates at the Gadsden facility.  In particular, immigration detainees complained of overcrowding, inadequate health care, and excessive force by jail staff.  In particular, it was alleged that 175 female detainees were being held in a unit designed for 75 persons.    Pregnant women were also not receiving proper medical care, the report noted.

Nearby Facilities

If you are having difficulty locating someone at the Etowah County Detention Center, you may want to try contacting any the following immigration detention centers:

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