Friday, March 28, 2008

Taylor ISD May House Hutto Detainees

Got word of this story from Jose Orta who is encouraging everyone to contact Dr. Bruce Scott, Superintendent of Taylor ISD, with a polite email to let him know that entering into a Memorandum of Understanding to house Hutto detainees for free is a bad idea.

His information is Dr. Bruce Scott: bscott[at]

For information on the upcoming April public meeting of the Taylor Independent School District, click here.

From the Taylor Daily Press:


The Taylor Independent School District school board will discuss in their next meeting whether to sign an agreement that would allow residents at the T. Don Hutto facility to be temporarily housed in the old middle school gymnasium in the event of an emergency.

The old middle school gymnasium has been used in the past for evacuations during natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

ERF Wireless, a provider of wireless and broadband products and services, currently occupies part of the old middle school building. Taylor ISD is also currently considering a proposal to allow a senior citizens center to be housed in the building.

Emergencies that would warrant the relocation of the detainees include the loss of electricity or water for a period of time long enough to elicit an evacuation, David Krueger, special assistant to the superintendent, said.

The current draft of the agreement states that the detainees would be housed in the gym for no more than two days, and security from the residential facility would be present.

If problems at the T. Don Hutto facility persisted longer than two days, residents would be moved and housed in a hotel for the remainder of the time.

The facility has also agreed to pay for the cost to transport detainees.

Krueger said an official from the facility would be present at the next school board meeting to answer any questions the board may have.

According to Krueger, the residential facility has also submitted a request to the Elgin Independent School District for the same purpose.

The agreement is still in the preliminary stages development and no final decisions have been made, Krueger said.

"The board is going to make that call," he said. "T. Don Hutto does pay a lot of school taxes to us, and we want to be good neighbors."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mustang Ridge may open a new family detention center

From KLBJ in Austin, news of plans to build another family detention center in Mustang Ridge, TX, and of the racism tied up in this issue.
(Photo from News 8 Austin. Charles Laws: Mayor pro tem of Mustang Ridge and general manager of the Creedmoor-Maha Water Supply Corporation.)

From New 8 Austin:

Austin City Council members are asking for Charles Laws, the Mayor pro tem of Mustang Ridge, who is also the general manager of the Creedmoor-Maha Water Supply corporation, to hand in his resignation.

The words inside a posted agenda of the Creedmoor-Maha Water supply corporation ask for an official discussion of "a holding pen for ___backs", and have city leaders in Austin furious.

"We are not going to sit here and nod our heads and hope it goes away," Austin City Councilmember Mike Martinez said. "We're demanding change."

And from KLBJ Austin:

Laws also serves on the Mustang Ridge City Council. He says through that role, he learned of private jail firm Emerald Correctional Management LLC’s interest in the property. He says he put the item on the water supply meeting notice in order to inform the board that if the center is built, Emerald would more than likely become a significant customer.

According to Laws and other Mustang Ridge city officials, the proposal is to build a 1,000 bed facility that would employ approximately 200 people. Laws says the firm is interested in being within 30 miles of the Austin Bergstrom Airport, so that the detainees could be flown back to their countries of origin.

City officials tell us the proposal is to build a family detention center, much like the T Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, which is run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). That facility is run by the private jail firm to house immigrants and their children who have been detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers.

For more in-depth analysis on Emerald Corrections and their bid in Caldwell County, please consult Texas Prison Bid'ness. Learn more about problems counties have entering contracts with private prison corporations.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hutto rally for International Women's Day

Activists, reporters, and concerned citizens gathered in Taylor last Saturday to march against the incarceration of families in Hutto as part of International Women's Day last Saturday, March 8th.

From the Taylor Daily Press:

The walk began at 3:30 p.m. at Heritage Park and ended with a rally across from the facility. Just after sunset, activists held a short candlelight vigil and prayer ceremony. (photo by Jason Schaefer)

Click here to view more YouTube footage of the rally (courtesy of CloseHuttoDown) or read about past activism, benefits, and rallys outside Hutto.

Chertoff challenged on question of Hutto and family detention

Michael Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, defended the Bush administration's treatment of immigrants in workplace raids and in detention at a House meeting last week.

Thursday, March 06, 2008
Read the full article at the Palm Beach Post.

Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday defended the administration's treatment of legal and illegal immigrants during workplace raids and at detention facilities.

Chertoff faced pointed questions from Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., about the treatment of children at immigrant detention facilities at the T. Don Hutto residential facility in Taylor, Texas and and a smaller facility in Berks, Pa.

Sanchez said that children at the facilities had been put in cells alone for hours, awakened in the middle of the night with flashlights in their faces and threatened with being permanently separated from their parents.

Attorneys for several of the children confined at the Hutto facility contended in lawsuits that conditions there were inhumane and violated minimum standards for minors in custody. The case ended in a settlement that included new standards for the centers.

Chertoff said that he couldn't judge the conditions because he "wasn't there," but that "eventually, this was resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs."

Click here to read more about the lawsuit against Chertoff on behalf of Hutto detainees, the ACLU's settlement with the Department of Homeland Security, and ICE's subsequently-published Standards for Family Detention.

Results of Hutto resolution in Texas caucuses

From the always-insightful Texas Prison Bidness, here are the current results of the Texas precincts that have passed Hutto resolutions, as of 10 March 2008.

As we mentioned in a previous post, one of the more interesting parts of Tuesday's caucus process is the resolution process, where grassroots Democratic Party members are allowed to introduce resolutions which can eventually be introduced to the state party platform. Resolutions calling for the closure of the T. Don Hutto detention center was introduced in dozens of precincts in at least five counties.

Although official results haven't been released, thus far I've heard that the Hutto resolutions passed in the following precincts:

Travis County - 136, 152, 235, 239, 250, 274, 410, 424, 426, 427, 423, 442, 431, 315, 334, 345

Harris County - 57, 268, 361, 732

Williamson County - 427, 425, 357

Brazoria County - 58

Bexar County - 3024, 3098

I assume there are many more precincts, especially in Travis, Williamson, and Bexar Counties where the resolutions were introduced into the party precinct packets. If you know of a precinct not listed that passed the Hutto resolution, please contact us. I have heard of at least one precinct in Harris County that did not adopt the resolution, but overwhelming I've heard positive reviews from precinct-goers who introduced the resolution.

Again, these are not official results yet. Check out Texas Prison Bidness for the most current numbers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

International Women's Day March on Hutto

There will be a rally on Hutto this Saturday at part of International Women's Day activities..

The peace walk will begin at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 8, at the Heritage Park in downtown Taylor (directions below) and end across the street from the prison, about 1.25 miles away. Please assemble at Heritage Park at 3:00 p.m. We will rally peacefully across the street at the Hutto prison until just after sunset, when we will have a short candlelight vigil and prayer ceremony.

Activists from other groups who staged several protests at the Hutto prison will be joining us. We are all committed to a non-violent peace walk and rally.

Please watch the documentary America's Family Prison, then write a poem, draw a picture, or make a statement, put it on a posterboard with marker, and meet us there. We'll have water to stay hydrated and snacks. Bring an umbrella in case of rain.

As friends, and as women, mothers, and girls, let's join together and make a stand against this injustice inflicted on women and children by our government. What better way to spend International Women's Day? Men and boys and their poems are welcome, too!

Free the Children Coalition, an ad hoc grass roots organization, as well as other local activists, will be present. Free the Families with Children behind the walls of Hutto prison.

Yours in sisterhood,

Adrienne Evans
Terlingua, Texas
(915) 276-0402 (cell)
(432) 371-2725 (home)


Take I-35 N toward Waco. From Downtown Austin, about 17 miles.
Take Exit 253, go right on US-79 N, go 15.4 miles into the center of Taylor. Heritage Park is on Main & 4th. The Walk is about 1.25 mile in distance straight down Main St. which converts into I-95. Take a right on Walnut (Martin Luther King Memorial Way) then a right again onto Welch, and you will be in front of T. D. Hutto Residential Center. The street address is 1001 Welch, Taylor, Texas.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bring Hutto to the Texas primary caucuses

Following this Tuesday's primary elections in Texas, there will be a caucus where you have the opportunity to shape the party platforms. We can use this opportunity to raise the issue of immigrant children and their families detained at the T. Don Hutto detention center. After the polls close, people will gather at their respective precincts for caucuses. The Democrats will start caucusing at 7:15, the Republicans at 8:00pm. Anyone who attends the caucus can introduce resolutions and platform issues.

The Democratic precinct chairperson in every Williamson County, Travis County, and Bexar County precinct should have a resolution titled "alternatives to detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking children" or "close Hutto" in their precinct packets. You can also bring the attached resolution to the caucus. If you live in another county, you'll have to print the resolution and bring it to your precinct caucus location. During the caucus there will be a time to discuss and vote on the resolutions after the presidential vote has taken place. You may have to mention that you would like to discuss the children detention/Hutto resolution.

More on the process is available from the Texas Observer, Grits for Breakfast and Burnt Orange Report. Here is a sample page of resolutions for the Democratic caucuses that can be easily adjusted for the Republican caucuses by changing the party name. If your precinct passes the resolution, please contact BobLibal[at] to keep a running tally.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) spending fortune lobbying for private prisons

The Corrections Corporation of America (referred to as CCA) is the largest private corrections corporation in the US. Based out of Nashville, they once made a bid to operate the entire Tennessee prison system.

This Associated Press article available on the Forbes website gives some idea of what CCA spends in its lobbying.

Corrections Corp. Spends $2.5M to Lobby
Associated Press 02.20.08, 10:46 AM ET

Corrections Corp. of America spent almost $2.5 million in 2007 to lobby on legislation and regulations related to the private prison industry.

The prison management company spent more than $1.1 million in the second half of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form posted online Thursday by the Senate's public records office.

The company lobbied on the privatization of Bureau of Indian Affairs prisons and on the Public Safety Act, which would outlaw private prisons, as well as the Private Prison Information Act, which would force private prisons to make public the same information government jails must provide.

Corrections Corp. spent more than $1.3 million in the first six months of 2007 to lobby on similar issues.

In addition to lobbying Congress, the company also lobbied the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Office of Management and Budget.

To learn more about CCA, please reference Texas Prison Bidness' article covering a recent suicide at CCA's Henderson unit or Grassroots Leadership's article covering the last 20 years of CCA's development.