The negative effects of detention upon various categories of migrants – asylum seekers, the undocumented, families, minors – has been observed and well documented by medical researchers, non-governmental organisations and even policymakers and politicians. Our 2010 study found that detention systematically deteriorates the physical and mental condition of nearly everyone who experiences it. Symptoms related to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are common. Prolonged detention deepens the severity of these symptoms, but they are already noticeable in the first weeks of detainment. The financial cost of detention, together with the severe damage it inflicts on migrants, begs a fundamental question: is detention truly worth implementing, considering all of its associated harms? Better yet is the question: are there not more cost-effective and humane ways for states to manage migration flows into their territories?
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