Read the 2020 Knox County 287(g) Contract

Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor ICE has released a copy of the 287(g) memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed in May 2020. If you are interested in reviewing the recently signed contract, you can view it here: Knox County 287g MOA May 2020

One significant change from previous signed agreements is that the 2020 MOA does not require renewal; rather than expiring after one or two years, the current contract will exist in perpetuity. Sheriff Spangler – or ICE, for that matter – can still withdraw from the 287(g) program at any time.

AKIN decries Spangler’s Renewal of 287(g)

On Wednesday, May 13, Sheriff Spangler revealed that he had renewed 287(g), a voluntary federal program that allows corrections officers in the Knox County Jail to enforce federal immigration law. The contract was set to expire on June 30.

Sheriff Spangler is well aware of the community’s concerns about this program. Over the last four weeks, groups and individuals have reached out to the Sheriff’s Office to urge him to decline to renew the contract. These efforts include:

The Sheriff has repeatedly dismissed community concerns by saying that we don’t understand the program and how it functions. It is the height of hypocrisy for Sheriff Spangler to argue that our concerns stem from a lack of understanding while simultaneously withholding access to data, records, and public information about the program. Since his time in office, Sheriff Spangler has not held a public meeting about 287(g), despite a KCSO 287(g) Steering Committee Charter which calls for a yearly public meeting to “hold effective and meaningful dialogue with community stakeholders.”

AKIN believes that 287(g) and other forms of police-ICE collaboration threaten the well-being of our community. The vast majority of immigrants held in the Knox County Jail were arrested on nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. Because of 287(g), these misdemeanor offenses may result in major immigration consequences for immigrant residents of our community.

If Sheriff Spangler believes that he has pertinent information to increase community trust and support for this program, he should make it known publicly. The Sheriff should stop hiding from community scrutiny.

Car rally concludes month of physically distant actions against 287(g)

Car rally concludes month of physically distant actions against 287(g)

Community members urge Sheriff to decline to renew Knox County’s 287(g) contract

Knoxville – Since mid-April, community members have urged Sheriff Spangler to end the 287(g) contract when it comes up for renewal again this year. The contract, which allows corrections officers in the Knox County Jail to enforce federal immigration law, expires on June 30.

On Friday, May 15, Knoxvillians will gather for a physically distant car rally to publicly call upon the Sheriff to end 287(g) and affirm Knox County as a welcoming community.

In the weeks leading up to the rally, individuals and groups have reached out to the Sheriff’s Office to express their concerns about the program. These efforts include:

With Knox County’s 287(g) contract set to expire in a matter of weeks, 2020 is the perfect time for Sheriff Spangler to step back from this program. Today, with greater urgency than ever, community members join to demand that Sheriff Spangler end this unwise, unjust, and unneeded program.

Physically Distant Car Rally ⧫ Friday, May 15, 3:30 pm ⧫ Location To Be Announced

Note: To protect rally participants and members of the media during the pandemic, rally organizers are asking reporters to speak only with participants who have agreed in advance to be interviewed and who have been trained in physical distancing measures. Please contact Meghan Conley to connect with participants for interviews. Please maintain physical distance from rally participants at all times.

Week 3 Action: Social Media Outreach and Sign-on Letters to #End287g

Welcome to week three of our physically distant #end287g campaign, in collaboration with ICE out of East TN and Students for Migrant Justice! Every week until mid-May, we will ask you to take action to urge Sheriff Spangler to end Knox County’s 287(g) program.

This week, we are asking folks to do two things:

First: Post a message to #end287g on social media and tag the Sheriff. Read on for a summary of this action, or click here for more details in English and Spanish.

For this action, we are asking artists of all ages and skill levels to create a poster, drawing, painting, slogan, sign, chalk art, or any other art that represents the cultural richness, diversity, and loving community of the Knoxville area.

1

Here are some suggested messages for your art:

  • End 287(g)
  • Love your neighbor
  • We all belong
  • Freedom of movement is a human right
  • Keep families together
  • Family separation ends here
  • 287(g) hurts, community heals
  • Immigrant rights are human rights
  • Migration is beautiful

 

Once you have created your masterpiece, post it on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter with hashtags #end287g, #knoxvilleunited, #spanglerend287g, and share one reason why you believe anti-immigrant policies harm everyone. Tag the Knox County Sheriff’s Office @knoxcountysheriffsoffice on Facebook and Instagram, and @knoxsheriff on Twitter.

Second: Add your name to one or more sign-on letters against 287(g). These letters are different from the petition we asked you to sign during Week 1. Each letter is written by Knox-area representatives of various communities, constituencies, and vocations, and each offers a particular perspective on why Sheriff Spangler should end 287(g). All letters will be delivered in mid-May, during the final week of the present campaign.

The letters we know to be circulating at this time are:

  • Youth or Student (of any grade or age)
  • Educator (childcare workers; K-12 and post-secondary teachers; school support staff; retired educators)
  • Health Care (practitioners; students in training; health care support staff; retired health professionals)
  • Legal (lawyers; law-trained professionals; law students; retired legal professionals)
  • Faith (people of any faith; lay leaders; clergy)
  • Workplace Justice (people who support labor rights and justice for workers; union members and supporters; union staff)

Click any of the links above to read and sign any letters that represent the constituencies to which you belong.

After you take action, please encourage five friends to do the same!

Sign-on Letters to #End287g – Add Your Name!

This week, add your name to one or more sign-on letters against 287(g).

These letters are different from the petition we asked you to sign during Week 1. Each letter is written by Knox-area representatives of various communities, constituencies, and vocations, and each offers a particular perspective on why Sheriff Spangler should end 287(g). All letters will be delivered in mid-May, during the final week of the present campaign.

The letters we know to be circulating at this time are:

  • Youth or Student (of any grade or age)
  • Educator (childcare workers; K-12 and post-secondary teachers; school support staff; retired educators)
  • Health Care (practitioners; students in training; health care support staff; retired health professionals)
  • Legal (lawyers; law-trained professionals; law students; retired legal professionals)
  • Faith (people of any faith; lay leaders; clergy)
  • Workplace Justice (people who support labor rights and justice for workers; union members and supporters; union staff)

Click any of the links above to read and sign and letters that represent the constituencies to which you belong.

Check out our other physically-distant #end287g actions here or on social media: @weareakin @utk_smj @iceoutofetn

Re-post: Questions for the Sheriff

Knox County’s 287(g) contract is up for renewal this year. From April to May, we are asking community members to participate in a series of weekly actions to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the contract. For the duration of the campaign, we will be re-posting 287(g)-related content on our website.

by Ann Jefferson

Following up on John Stewart’s guest column on 287(g) in the online News Sentinel of July 3, I would like to pose the question to Sheriff Jones: Why the urgency to deputize the Knox County Sheriff’s Office personnel to carry out federal responsibilities? As a citizen and taxpayer of the county I just can’t see the need for it.

I was one of a group of residents of Knox county who recently attempted to get some answers to troubling questions about the program 287(g) that, according to the ICE web site, has been approved for the county. Neither the sheriff nor his assistant was available to meet with us. Why is all this going on behind closed doors?

Could it be because the economics of the thing are not favorable? Although the sheriff says that this will save the county money, evidence from other areas of the country suggests that it has ended up costing money, sometimes hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Continue reading Re-post: Questions for the Sheriff

Re-post: Is 287(g) representative of human liberty?

Knox County’s 287(g) contract is up for renewal this year. From April to May, we are asking community members to participate in a series of weekly actions to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the contract. For the duration of the campaign, we will be re-posting 287(g)-related content on our website.

by Grant A. Mincy

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Photo Credit: Lee Sessions

Here we are, just a group of Knoxvillians rolling into the July 4th weekend. It’s June 30th at 9:30 am. Rain patters and dampens the Scruffy City. We stand across the street from the City County Building in the thick ambiance of Knoxville. Trains whistle forlorn on a gray morning, cars and city trucks hustle and bustle about while church bells chime in the background. There are 18 of us from all different walks of life. We stand in an inter-generational meeting, some of us people of faith, university professors, community college professors, Knox County school teachers, retirees, lawyers, laborers and even a young one donning a “Change the World” t-shirt. We have gathered on this humid and weepy morning out of collective concern for our great city and neighbors.

The concern? Well, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently approved Knox County’s involvement in the 287(g) program. Term limited Knox County Sheriff JJ Jones looked for participation in this program with no input from the public and has yet to make a statement regarding the effects this new government authority will have on our neighborhoods. In fact, he simply refuses to publicly acknowledge Knox County’s approval for 287(g). The sheriff claims he needs more details before he is prepared to talk to all of his constituents and local media about it. Perhaps one shouldn’t hold so much ignorance when inviting the long arm of the state into Knoxville? I digress. Continue reading Re-post: Is 287(g) representative of human liberty?

Week 2 Action: Make a Phone Call, Send a Message to #End287g

Welcome to week two of our physically distant #end287g campaign, in collaboration with ICE out of East TN and Students for Migrant Justice! Every week until mid-May, we will ask you to take one action to urge Sheriff Spangler to end Knox County’s 287(g) program.

Last week, we collected nearly 1000 signatures on our petition (psst… you can still sign if you haven’t already! :))

This week, we are asking folks to contact the Sheriff via his office phone or website and urge him to end the 287(g) contract.

Keep reading for contact info and sample scripts, or click here for a google doc with more details in English and Spanish.

Call the Sheriff:

  • Sheriff’s Office Main Line: 865-215-2243
  • Time: Monday – Friday between 7-9 am and/or 12-2 pm
  • Sample script: “Hi, my name is ____, and I am calling to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the 287(g) contract. I [live/work/shop/have friends] in Knox County, and I believe that 287(g) harms our community. Please end the contract when it comes up for renewal this year.”

Send a Message:

  • Send the Sheriff a message: Click here and scroll down
  • Send the Sheriff a message through KCSO’s “contact us” page: Click here
  • Sample script: “I am writing to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the 287(g) contract. I [live/work/shop/have friends] in Knox County, and I believe that 287(g) harms our community. Please end the contract when it comes up for renewal this year.”

After you take action, please spread the word and encourage five friends to do the same!

Re-post: The Declaration of Independence and the sheriff

Knox County’s 287(g) contract is up for renewal this year. From April to May, we are asking community members to participate in a series of weekly actions to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the contract. For the duration of the campaign, we will be re-posting 287(g)-related content on our website.

by John G. Stewart

What a coincidence. Here we are, on July Fourth, celebrating the signing of our Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical British monarch who denied our colonial forebears their basic democratic rights and, at the same time, we discover that Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones has signed a secret agreement with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) that places at severe risk the democratic rights of thousands of our Knox County neighbors.

Granted, Jones is a bad reincarnation of King George III, but the denial of democratic rights we have witnessed in how he has gone about arranging for Knox County’s acceptance of the so-called 287(g) authority is a case-book example of arbitrary and non-democratic decision-making. Our founders declared they had had enough of the King’s “ … repeated injuries and usurpations.”

We feel the same way about Jones’ repeated refusal to hear community sentiment and take seriously community concerns about involving Knox County in this controversial program that places the human rights of many Knox County residents in real jeopardy.

Many of you no doubt will ask: What is this 287(g) business all about? Continue reading Re-post: The Declaration of Independence and the sheriff

Re-post: Knox County Jail Enters Secretive Contract to House Immigrant Detainees

Knox County’s 287(g) contract is up for renewal this year. From April to May, we are asking community members to participate in a series of weekly actions to urge Sheriff Spangler to decline to renew the contract. For the duration of the campaign, we will be re-posting 287(g)-related content on our website.

By Meghan Conley

Allies of Knoxville’s Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN) recently discovered that the Knox County Jail has entered into a secretive contract to house immigrant detainees. In August, AKIN noticed an alarming increase in the number of immigrants detained in the county jail. Further investigation revealed that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), under the leadership of former Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, signed an agreement to voluntarily detain immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including people from our community and surrounding counties. Combined with KCSO’s participation in the 287(g) program, implementation of this “bed contract” means that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office has become a willing and fully operational arm of the federal deportation regime.

AKIN has spent the last year tracking the number of immigrants who receive ICE holds in the county jail. From September 2017 through July 2018, we documented an average of 18 ICE holds per month, ranging from a low of 14 detainees in May 2018 to a high of 28 in December 2017. In August 2018, at least 72 immigrant detainees were booked into the jail, an increase of 300% in the number of monthly detainees over the average from previous months. In the last year, the Knox County Jail has detained at least 269 immigrant detainees, 72 of whom were detained in August. In other words, more than a quarter of Knox County’s immigrant detainees from the last year were detained in August alone. This trend is likely to continue as long as KCSO maintains the bed contract.

Residents of Knox County should be deeply concerned that the jail has become a secretive ICE detention center. Immigration detention centers are notorious for the lack of oversight surrounding their operating standards, enabling systemic abuse of immigrant detainees in facilities elsewhere. Under the Jones administration, the Knox County Jail was cited numerous times for its abuse of inmates, including the use of a “torture chair” against a mentally ill inmate. What expectation can we have that immigrant detainees housed in our backyard are treated lawfully, with dignity, and in a manner consistent with our values? What standards will govern the Knox County Jail’s immigrant detention center, and who will this facility be accountable to? Continue reading Re-post: Knox County Jail Enters Secretive Contract to House Immigrant Detainees