The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue the federal government for alleged mistreatment of immigration detainees at an Arizona jail.

Immigrants detained at Pinal County Jail in southern Arizona do not have access to outdoor exercise facilities, are denied face-to-face visits with family members and face unwarranted punishment, the ACLU alleged in a letter sent to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Tuesday.

“The confinement of immigration detainees at Pinal County Jail, at least under current conditions, has no place in any system that aspires to civility,” the letter says.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office denied the allegations, saying it had raised standards in the jail since contracting with ICE to house detained immigrants.

The confinement of immigration detainees at Pinal County Jail, at least under current conditions, has no place in any system that aspires to civility

- ACLU

“A lot of these inmates that we have live and eat a lot better than they would in their home countries,” Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s office told Fox News Latino. “They’re treated quite well.”

Immigration detainees now have access to microwaves and more frequent changes of clean underwear and socks than before the ICE contract, Johnson said.

But in the 12-page letter, the ACLU describes abysmal conditions, including verbal abuse by prison guards, arbitrary lockdowns and searches and inadequate medical care. The outdoor recreation facility is blocked on three sides by concrete walls and only allows light in for an hour a day, the letter says.   

The ACLU bases its allegations on interviews with detainees and a visit to the jail in March.

Most people detained for illegal immigration face civil violations rather than criminal charges, so they are entitled to higher standards of treatment than common criminals, the ACLU says. 

The ACLU letter threatened to sue if authorities did not address the allegations.

Roque Planas can be reached at roque.planas@foxnewslatino.com or via Twitter at @RoqPlanas.

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