By Duncan Roy, ACLU client
Duncan Roy was arrested in November 2011 on a charge of extortion for threatening to blog about the legality of a real estate deal. He was held at a sheriff’s station in Lost Hills before being transferred to Men’s Central Jail.
After I was arrested, I was granted bail by the police. And I should have been let out that, and in any other circumstance, I would have been let out that night; the bail bondsman would have turned up, he would have posted bail, I’d have been home. well, I wasn’t home. Because when the bail bondsman turned up, he was told that I was on an ICE hold.
You know what, over the next week, two, three weeks, we tried really hard to post bail. And on each occasion the bail bondsman was told that I could not post bail because I was under an ICE hold. During the time that I was there it was simply about surviving day after day. It was a very cruel and difficult environment. There was lots of people with severe mental health problems in the jail, and a lot of cruelty to the gay population where I was housed in the men’s county jail.
Before I went into jail, I had a thriving business at my house — I have a house in Malibu which I rented out through various websites, and I had done very well renting to people, and obviously the day that I was arrested that came crashing to a halt. All of my income stopped. I was also in negotiation to start shooting a movie. The bills weren’t paid, the mortgage wasn’t paid… those things were — it was hard to watch your life crumble. My family were desperately worried and — obviously — confused, baffled, as to how this could have happened.
Those nights that were the hardest were just remembering that I had worked very hard in this country — brought my life savings to the United States, had invested in property, had decided to make my life here. And was here legally when I was arrested. And could still be treated the way I was treated.
You don’t have to be illegal — you don’t have to be illegally here to be treated like this. I was legally in the country and I was still treated like this.
After 89 days of imprisonment, ICE lifted Duncan’s immigration hold. The Sheriff’s Department allowed him to post bail and released him.
When I was finally released from jail, three months after I was put there, it was a bit of a shock. It was a bail bondsman that picked me up and took me home. Finally, he could post bail. And he expressed his frustration at how hard he had tried to get me out of that place.
I’m lucky because I know that I can — I have a voice that will be heard. That I’m lucky that I can get out there and tell people what I saw, and I’ll be believed. Many of the people I met in that jail will never be heard, will never be listened to. Just because they’re poor, or they’re homeless, or they’re transsexual, or they’re loud, or they’re black, or they’re Latino — their voices will not be heard. And it’s a tragedy.