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Massachusetts sheriff threatens to turn away federal detainees

By Rick Vincent and Barbara Hall, CNN Radio
Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral says the $8 million her department got to house federal prisoners is not enough.
Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral says the $8 million her department got to house federal prisoners is not enough.
  • Sheriff is warning feds that their detainees will be turned away
  • Sheriff Andrea Cabral is calling for more respect and communication
  • ICE officials are reviewing her concerns

(CNN) -- Federal authorities are reviewing concerns from a Massachusetts sheriff who is threatening to reject federal detainees at her jail.

In an August 13 letter to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral noted a "staggering lack of communication and respect" from the federal agency.

She told CNN Radio that if her concerns aren't addressed, ICE "would no longer be allowed to house federal detainees at the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department. They would have to take them to a different facility."

ICE is reviewing Cabral's letter and will offer a direct response to her concerns, said Harold Ort, a spokesman for the agency.

"We remain committed to reforming the nation's civil detention system and will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to ensure that these necessary reform measures are successfully implemented," he said.

Cabral received $8 million this year to house about 260 federal detainees at a time. She says the amount is much less than it seems after costs are weighed in.

"The state allows us to have a retained revenue account, and that simply means that you're getting revenue from a source other than state appropriation," she said. "Your state appropriation is then diminished by the amount of money you may bring in from an outside source, and in this case that's a federal reimbursement," she said.

"Our retained revenue account is $8 million a year. We spend more than $6 million a year staffing the building."

Cabral said her department is specifically frustrated with ICE not sending documentation about the Suffolk jail, including federal audits and complaints from detainees.

Most recently, she said she was unaware of the findings of a federal investigation into the October death of a federal detainee until they were reported by Boston media.

"There hasn't been that level of communication and information sharing, and it's very important that we're able to be very consistent with issues in this department," she said.

CNN Radio's Ninette Sosa contributed to this report.