Thursday, October 4, 2007

Doors remain open at Hutto

From Lisa Faulkenberg of the Houston Chronicle:

Maybe it was the international media scrutiny. Maybe it was the 10 federal lawsuits alleging harmful conditions. Perhaps it was the case earlier this year of a guard having sex with a detainee.

Whatever the motivating factor, Williamson County has apparently concluded that helping the federal government detain immigrant parents and children in a converted medium-security prison is a risky business, one to which the county no longer wants a part.

The news at first seemed to signal the end to the saga at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Taylor. It seemed the perfect opportunity for federal immigration officials to relocate families to a more humane, homelike environment or increase the use of electronic monitoring and other effective, less-expensive alternatives to detention, as congressional committees have advised.

Immigration officials could finally close the door on a facility that has become a public relations nightmare and a liability to our country's human rights record.

But instead the county says it will keep the facility open. County officials say they don't want to be held liable for what happens under CCA's 'watch', yet will not acknowledge that it is a fundamentally flawed and immoral policy.