Imperial Detention Center “Totally Opposite” of What Some University Students Thought it Would Be

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MTC’s Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, California wasn’t what these college students expected.

“As soon as you step in, it feels different,” says San Diego State University senior Armando Barcena.

“I noticed that the detainees,” adds senior Ashley Lytle, “were able to freely move around.”

These criminal justice students at San Diego State University toured the Imperial facility. Some had misconceptions about detention centers, especially those operated by the private sector. But this visit opened their eyes to the reality.

“Which was surprising to me,” emphasizes Ashley, “because in the media it portrays that facilities are just negative. And it was just totally the opposite walking into it.”

The students learned about the intake process and how detainees are evaluated to make sure their needs are met.

“In the past I have visited other facilities and they don’t seem to be as clean as this one,” adds Ashley. “This one seems very clean and well-kept.”

They visited the library and saw all of the legal resources available to the men and women. They saw the medical services, recreation areas, visitation and the housing dorms.

“Walking into the female dorm; one thing I have noticed is that they seem very happy,” says Ashley. “The atmosphere doesn’t seem like they’re sad at all. They seem like they’re very content, as if they’re treated well.”

They even learned about educational classes available to the men and women…like the GED course.

“Some of the programs, I was surprised they had,” says Armando. “From getting your GED from like the Mexican standard, from competitions that keep their atmosphere happy.”

He never thought he’d say it, but for Armando Barcena, the Imperial Regional Detention Facility is a place he’d like to work after graduation.

“Before touring this facility, I never thought about actually joining MTC or this facility. But after touring here and seeing the environment and how everything is done, if given the opportunity, I would like to work for a place like this.”