Sunday, May 18, 2008

Responses to T. Don Hutto Press Tour

We posted about the press tour earlier, and here are some responses to the subsequent media from the Austin-American Stateman

"Among the more than 100 changes made to make the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention center, a former medium-security prison, more family-friendly was a paint job.

A prison with a fresh coat of paint is still a prison

Re: April 23 article “Officials tout family-friendly changes at Taylor detainee facility.”

I am pleased that the most egregious violations of human dignity at the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention center are being addressed, but fundamentally it is still a prison, and prisons are unsuitable solutions for detaining the children and families of nonviolent immigration status violators.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have to stop looking to incarceration solutions for the families and children affected by the recent upsurge in enforcement measures.



There are alternatives that are far more humane and less expensive, including keeping the detainees at home while wearing ankle bracelet devices. But this would not fill beds in the for-profit prison industry.



Although conditions have been greatly improved, thanks to community activism and the legal advocacy of several organizations, detention of children and their families at a for-profit former medium security prison is fundamentally not appropriate.

Congress has told ICE multiple times to implement less restrictive, more cost-effective alternatives to detention of children and their families.



Improvements have come after 18 months of protests, media scrutiny and a litigation settlement. Those improvements are welcomed, but ICE should not pat itself on the back and the media should not buy ICE’s claim that Hutto is now a “model” family prison.



It makes it sound like Disneyland for incarcerated delinquents. Call it what it is: a for-profit prison for women and children. This place, like so many other “new” institutions created in the last eight years, is a disgrace to humanity.