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Bedtime Stories

Since 2010, the detention bed quota - a Congressional mandate that requires the incarceration of 34,000 immigrants in jails and detention centers in the U.S. at any given time - has stolen countless months, days and hours from immigrants and their families and communities. Here are just some of their stories…

nights stolen by detention since the quota began
spent on the detention system since you arrived

The detention bed quota is unprecedented. No other law enforcement agency operates on a quota system.

What’s wrong with the Quota? With a guaranteed need for detention “beds” or jail cells, the detention bed quota essentially forces the use of facilities that have poor track records in which innumerable human rights abuses and dozens of deaths have occurred. These facilities have issues ranging from no access to the outdoor space, maggot- and worm-infested food, and wholly inadequate medical and mental health care. For more info: http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/ExposeAndClose

What’s more, the cost to maintain this unmanageable system is excessive. In 2012, ICE detained an estimated 478,000 immigrants and the ICE’s current detention budget is just short of $2 billion. During a time of fiscal crisis, it is unacceptable to be spending billions in taxpayer dollars each year to needlessly detain immigrants to fill a quota. Having a quota on how many people must be locked up every day puts a price tag on immigrant lives. The policy leads to Congress and ICE treating immigrants as numbers filling a quota and products to be bought and sold, not as real people with children and loved ones depending on them.

Call your member of Congress today and ask them to eliminate the immigrant detention bed quota from the FY 2015 appropriations bill. To get involved go to: http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/EndTheQuota

About This Site

Bedtime Stories was conceived and developed as part of MIT’s Codesign Studio, a service-learning course that pairs students with NGOs and activists to collaboratively design civic media projects grounded in real-world community needs. During the Spring 2014 semester, the theme of the course was surveillance and privacy, and our focus was on the needs of communities most heavily targeted by state, military, and corporate surveillance.

To learn more about the codesign process and philosophy, you can read a case study on the making of Bedtime Stories here and the course syllabus here.



Sean Flynn, MIT Open Documentary Lab

Pia Zaragoza, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program

Chrislene DeJean, Intelligent Mischief

Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network

Carly Perez, Detention Watch Network


Marcelo Nieves, Neo


Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network

Carly Perez, Detention Watch Network

Faculty Advisor

Sasha Costanza-Chock, MIT Comparative Media Studies

Bedtime Stories is a co-production of the MIT Center for Civic Media and Detention Watch Network