Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Basic Background of T. Don Hutto facility

T. Don Hutto Residential Facility is a converted minimum-security prison located in Taylor, Texas used to house families- including children as young as nursing babies- detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Both the structure itself and the methodology of the detention inside are based on the penal system model. This creates a situation in which people with nothing but civil violations against them- and, in the case of the children and asylum seekers, not even that- are housed in a prison environment and handled as convicted felons. Hutto re-opened as the family detention center in summer of 2006.

Hutto is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private, for-profit corrections company that has consistently denied outside monitors in to access conditions inside. Reports from former detainees indicate poor food quality, sub-par education, mental and health services, abuses of power by guards, and a general culture of fear and intimidation.

Hutto is the first family detention facility of its kind in the US. It was created as a prototype, and future plans in the realm of family detention will be based on how Hutto fares. Local organizing and national litigation have so far forced the Department of Homeland Security and CCA to make improvements to conditions inside Hutto. Only continued pressure will force the government to re-evaluate its policies on family detention and prevent future 'Huttos' from being built.