Etowah County Detention Center

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GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities in Alabama say a woman being booked into the Etowah County Detention Center was found to have hidden drugs on her person.

News outlets report 38-year-old Carrie Fay Drake is charged with offenses including promoting prison contraband. She has since posted bail and been released.

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An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee has been charged in connection to a fire inside the Etowah County Detention Center.     

Etowah County Lt. Robin Grant tells local media that 22-year-old Okiemute Omatie of Lagos, Nigeria, is charged with one count of first-degree arson and one count of destruction of state property in connection with the May 26 fire.

Etowah County Detention Center
Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

A federal judge has authorized the force-feeding of one detainee on hunger strike at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Etowah County.

Chief U.S District Judge Karon O. Bowdre authorized the force-feeding last week, if needed, for a detainee reported to be in deteriorating health. Bowdre also authorized medical monitoring of other detainees participating in the hunger strike.

48 detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center began a hunger strike two weeks ago today, on Nov. 25. 15 continue to participate.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former member of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education who says illegal votes cost her a 2013 re-election.

Kelly Horwitz says her opponent for a school board seat in 2013, Cason Kirby, benefited from illegal votes cast by members of University of Alabama fraternities and sororities. She claims some of those votes were the result of bribery, with Greek members pressuring classmates and offering free drinks or concert tickets to get people to vote.

Etowah County Detention Center
Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

In many respects, Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama is just like any other county jail. But for 300 or so of the facility's occupants, it's a different story. They're not inmates, but immigrant detainees, and they're being held awaiting deportation. That arrangement prompted a legal complaint.

The federal government pays Etowah County and communities across the country to keep immigrant detainees under lock and key in local jails. Critics complain these locations are isolated and detainees are kept thousands of miles from friends and family.

Immigrant detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center are at the center of a civil rights complaint over abuse and visitation rights.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds an average of 300 foreign detainees in Etowah County awaiting deportation. The advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement says there's evidence of widespread abuse at Etowah. They filed a formal complaint earlier this month.

Christina Mansfield is a co-founder of CIVIC. She says she heard reports of abuse on her first visit to the facility in 2013.

The city of Anniston may be the latest community to remove the Confederate battle flag.

The City Council is set to vote on whether the stars and bars should be banned from all city owned property. After a work session last week, some council members felt banning the controversial battle flag would have a positive effect on the city.

Councilman *Seyram Selase says banning the Confederate flag shouldn’t be a debate of heritage or hate.

Civil rights advocates are pursuing a complaint against the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden.

The complaint covers a wide range of conditions-related issues including medical neglect and alleged abuse by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers against foreign detainees.

Christina Mansfield is the co-founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). She says the report alleges how ICE officers have physically assaulted and coerced detainees into signing travel documents that could prompt deportation.