By Louisa Moller

BOSTON (CBS) – The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department will slowly begin relocating immigrant detainees after deciding to terminate its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sheriff Steve Tompkins says he made the decision to terminate the contract to make room for roughly 200 to 250 incarcerated women.

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“There really are more females, more ladies going to jail for a whole host of reasons. When you have the scarcity of mental health beds, when you have the scarcity of substance abuse beds, and when you have ladies in battering situations or being battered, bad things happen,” Tompkins said.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins (WBZ-TV)

His department will now offer rehabilitative programming to incarcerated women from Suffolk, Plymouth, Essex, and Norfolk counties. The programming includes Community Re-Entry for Women which has been nationally recognized.

The move will displace roughly 150 to 200 ICE detainees over the next 60 days. Tompkins says it is a decision that was not politically motivated and comes at no cost to Suffolk County.

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“To me, this is not political. This is important. This is about saving lives,” Tompkins said. “We haven’t received one dollar working with the feds on this program since 2009.”

Women in Suffolk County jail (WBZ-TV)

Marcos Charles, the Acting Field Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICE in Boston released this statement:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Boston was disappointed to learn of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to end their longstanding, cooperative partnership agreement with our agency.

ICE has enjoyed a positive working relationship with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and we believe this partnership between Suffolk County and ICE has been mutually beneficial to the residents of Suffolk County the last 13 years.

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ICE may now be forced have to depend on its national system of detention bed space to place those detainees in locations farther away reducing the opportunities for in-person family visitation and attorney coordination.”

Louisa Moller