Monday, December 15, 2008

Williamson Co. Residents Take Action Against Family Detention

On December 9, 2008, Sherry Dana and Mary Ellen Kirsch let the County Commissioners know how they feel about T. Don Hutto.

A group of citizens opposing the renewal of the T Don Hutto contract will address that elected body, again on Dec. 16, during the "Citizen Comments" section of the agenda at the start of the meeting.

Local opposition is growing and becoming more vocal in their determination to end WCCC's involvement in this corrupt contract. Last week saw a number of new faces and heard some forceful new voices opposing the renewal of the county's participation in this tragic abuse of power. The WCCC is in the process of considering the terms of the up-dated proposal and it is essential for them to hear our arguments before the item appears on the agenda for formal approval.

Click here for a speech called "Nativity and Immigration" delivered by retired United Methodist minister, Milton Jordon, on December 7.  He reminds us that Mary and Joseph were immigrants, too, and calls on us to maintain the spirit of hospitality by affirming the civil rights of everyone and welcoming diversity into our communities. 

From Sherry Dana,
As you are well aware, the detention of innocent children violates international law, federal law, and Congressional mandates.

You looked the other way when a detainee was raped by a CCA employee. You were unphased when U. S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks found it inexplicable that defendants spent untold amounts of time, effort, and taxpayer dollars to establish the Hutto family detention program, knowing that a federal ruling required immigration authorities to house children in the least restrictive conditions possible.

You ignored the testimony of the detained children and the results of investigations by reputable organizations such as Lutheran Social Services.

Your concern has not been that abuses were occurring but that the county could be held liable. Rather than showing concern for human rights abuses, you chose to add an indemnity clause requiring CCA to pay for an attorney to defend the county in a lawsuit resulting from these abuses.

A speaker at Sunday's vigil just returned from meeting with Sen. Kennedy's staff about T. Don Hutto, one met personally with Pres. elect Obama about T. Don Hutto. Several weren't with us because they were speaking in Washington D.C. and NYC about T. Don Hutto.

As of January 20th, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Michael Chertoff will no longer be in Washington to protect their friends in the private for-profit prison industry. We will have an administration that has vowed to uphold international law, that respects the judicial system, Congress, and the Constitution.

CCA's lawyers will work to protect CCA, not the county, from liability for our complicity in the inhumane treatment of these innocent women and children.

If you cannot find it in your heart to release these children, then look at your financial responsibilities to the county. Protect us from the financial repercussions that will surely come if you renew the Agreement between Williamson County and CCA to imprison women and children who ask for our help and instead are thrown in a private for profit prison.

From Mary Ellen Kersch:

Each Tuesday, this meeting opens with a pledge to our flag, appropriately declaring “liberty and justice for all, ” and that we are “one nation, under God.” That’s followed with a prayer, submitting to the will of God and the teachings of Christ. But when anything relating to T Don Hutto is on the agenda, this body seems to go into an amnesia state and ends up acting in contradiction to those standards of good government and brotherly love. The Golden Rule is regularly broken whenever the corrupt contract with ICE and CCA is under review.

T Don Hutto family prison does not exist for national security interests, or out of a sense of justice or patriotism; it’s driven by greed. Simple avarice. This contract personifies the corrupt business model of exploiting the very weakest among us to further enrich the most wealthy. At taxpayer expense.

Imprisoning innocent children of God, charged with no crime, is flat out un-American. It’s also un-Christian. (What WOULD Jesus do?)

I’ve previously told you a bit about my own son-in-law’s experience with ICE. That uncontrolled bureaucracy failed to follow their own rules, which they acknowledged, but then just decided to go ahead and punish the victim of their own sloth, anyway. ( I guess maybe the paperwork would have been too much trouble for them.) My family spent several terrified months as a result, during which ICE could have hauled him off, deported him, and/or imprisoned him in T Don Hutto. And it was THEIR error!

Maybe if he’d been a family member of someone on this dais, you’d be less complacent about this corruption for corporate profit. At taxpayer expense.

The fact is that there are humane, effective, and moral-- and far more “Republican”—i.e., “cost-effective,” alternatives to the T Don Hutto, for–profit- prison-for-non-criminal-immigrants. While you didn’t initiate this activity, your failure to require any of those alternatives makes you accomplices.

Well, here’s your chance for redemption: You can vote to remove us from this unholy union and notify the world that we do not put innocent people-- or children-- in prison in Williamson County, Texas.