The way this country detains illegal immigrants is about to change dramatically — at least if the Obama administration follows through on a proposed overhaul unveiled this week. The man responsible for making it happen: John Morton, the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security. He tells host Guy Raz that the system has exploded in size and become too dependent on private contractors.

The Obama administration today revealed their plans for the anticipated immigration detention make-over — much-needed reform of a system that is itself primarily based on a broken immigration system.

This is, no doubt, a step in the right direction.

The Obama administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil an outline of sweeping changes for the nation’s immigration-detention system, saying it will decide whom to lock up and for how long based on the danger and flight risk posed by detainees.

Immigration authorities plan to move potentially thousands more non-violent immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings out of costly prisons and jails and into community monitoring programs — which could include using converted hotels and nursing homes as housing.

The Obama administration is unveiling on Tuesday an ambitious plan to repair the immigration detention system, a scandal-plagued mix of federal, state and local lockups that grew vastly and rotted under the enforcement crusade led by former President George W. Bush.

On the morning of Jan. 28, federal agents knocked on Shirley Tan’s door, showed her a deportation letter and put her in handcuffs.

Last month the Obama administration announced that it was going to overhaul immigration detention, to impose accountability and safety on a system notoriously deficient in both. This month, the official chosen to lead the effort, Dora Schriro, announced that she was leaving Washington to become the commissioner of correction for New York City. But the job of fixing the detention system, and all of its horrors, must move ahead.

The last immigrant families have departed a disparaged former Texas prison that housed them while they awaited decisions in immigration cases, federal officials said Friday.

For a year and a half Ms. Jiang, a waitress with no criminal record and a history of attempted suicide, was locked away in an immigration jail in Florida. Often in solitary confinement, she sank ever deeper into mental illness, relatives say, not eating for days, or vomiting after meals for fear of being poisoned.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, notes gaps in the information ICE uses to track the more than 33,000 people in its nationwide system of jails and detention centers that hold immigrants awaiting court hearings or deportation.