Raise your hand if you have heard of it.
I hadn't. Now, I have. Several miles outside of Taylor, there exists a prison, run by Corrections Corporation of America, Inc., a "for profit" company that charges taxpayers a per Diem to maintain and manage prisons. Thanks to our Department of Homeland Security, and the sweeping powers given it when our legislators weren't looking, apparently these prisons are springing up all over the country and being used to detain people without recourse, on American soil, while they await the "paperwork" for deportation.
For a start, here's an editorial from the Houston Chronicle:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/4651100.html. From the article:
"The children at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, 35 miles northeast of Austin, live in cells; they wear uniforms and receive inadequate medical and educational services, are often cold and hungry, separated from their parents as punishment, and until recently received one hour of schooling per day and rarely played outside. They are guilty of no crimes, and endanger no one. Their parents, who are incarcerated here because they are seeking asylum after fleeing such circumstances as war, torture, political persecution and rape, or are accused of violating civil immigration laws, have committed no crimes."
Here, the ACLU checks in:
"Pursuant to a contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (CCA), Hutto is a converted maximum-security prison that bills itself as a "Family Residential Facility. "
Information as to just who is "detained" there, and from whence the detainees came, is difficult to find. The following is an excerpt from an email in which a person researching the prisons (the one near here is not the only one) describes the runaround she got from International Education Services. This is an organization that is supposed to be overseeing the education of the imprisoned children.
"I never got past the receptionist at IES. She put me on hold 3 times, came back each time w/more questions about who I was with (private citizen) and why I was calling (interested in learning about their programs so that I could encourage our county commissioners to participate in a more caring program such as theirs rather than the prison system we have here). Flattery failed and I was finally told that they could not give out any info for “security reasons” and that I could call Teresa Brooks, Fed. Field Specialist at 202-631-3775 but to “wait 10 minutes.” I’m not sure why she needed to be warned about my call because she also said she couldn’t give out info for “security reasons.” She referred me to the Office of Refugee Resettlement website (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/) which is supposed to “answer all my questions.” "
I understand that people are using the treatment of the children as a hook to publicize the existence of these prisons, but the broader question is:
"Why do they exist in the first place?"
This sounds so much like WWII era Germany, to me.
In the past couple of years, we have been roused to have more-than-usually negative feelings about illegal immigrants. We stare at every Middle-Eastern convenience clerk to see if he looks like he has Jihad on his mind. We regard folks speaking Spanish as if they were after our jobs or about to murder us in our beds. So, when we find out that the "detainees" are Mexican, Central American, or Middle Eastern, we think, "Oh, well; that's OK--our government is just protecting US from THEM."
So who will be the next "Them?" How can you easily tell a legal Latin immigrant from an illegal one? I've heard there are people in the T. Don Hutto Detention Center whose papers came from the proper authorities, not from the flea market. When there are no arrest records, no list of who is there, and no obligation to provide legal counsel to these people, something is very wrong. Who will be next?
I have lots of links and stories about this. Here's another from the Houston Chronicle:
"Researchers write that "the penal model of family detention leads to babies in uniforms with name tags, cribs inside prison cells, parents losing the ability to discipline their children and families unable to live as a normal family unit."
"As a country that supports family values, we should not be treating immigrant families who have not committed a crime like criminals, particularly children," said Ralston H. Deffenbaugh, president of the Lutheran aid group."
T. Don Hutto Residential Center
1001 Welch St., P.O. Box 1063
Taylor, Texas 76574
fax - 512-218-2450
Facility Public Information Officer: Danny Coronado
Facility Type: male/female Minimum CCA owned facility since 2006
Warden: Mickey Liles
Mickey Liles was named warden of the T.Don Hutto Correctional Center in April 2006. He previously served as Managing Director, Division VII since April 2004. Liles joined CCA in 1997 as assistant warden at Huerfano County Correctional Center in Colorado. He was named warden of B.M. Moore Pre-Release Center and in 1998, he became warden of Diboll Correctional Center, both in Texas. He has also served CCA as warden of the Bartlett State Jail in Texas, warden at Crossroads Correctional Center in Montana and as a security auditor for the Facility Support Center. He most recently served CCA's Diamondback Correctional Facility as warden. His corrections career began in 1973 as a correctional officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Liles holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master's degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
Total Beds: 512
Customer Base: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
ACA Accreditation: Yes
Tour Contact: Warden Liles 512-352-3502
This information is from the CCA site:
(more to come)