Friday, January 23, 2009

History Marches Against T Don Hutto Family Prison in Taylor, Tx

Letter to the Editor, by Mary Ellen Kersch
Williamson County Sun, January 22, 2009.
History Marches Against T Don Hutto Family Prison in Taylor, Tx

This is truly an historic week for our Nation and the world. Tuesday we witnessed the peaceful transition of power at the highest level with the swearing-in of President Barack Obama. We moved away from demonization and divisiveness to a promise of unity, inclusivity, dignity, and responsibility. This nation came together to bring our focus, again, on the forward movement to fulfill our founders’ promise of a more perfect union.

On Monday we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who also dedicated himself to America’s promise with non-violent action to awaken us to the voices of our better angels. His violent assassination by those who opposed that call failed to still those voices, or our dedication to following them.

The Christian concept of the brotherhood of man is integral to every great religion and it is the very basis of the American principle that all men are created equal. Barack Obama’s election marks a giant step forward in overcoming the stain that slavery has left on our body politic. Dr King’s martyrdom was, perhaps, the greatest of many sacrifices that made this historical election possible.

It is now essential that our Williamson County Commissioners Court join in the new birth of freedom promised by presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama by the simple act of removing this county from partnership in T Don Hutto family prison in Taylor.

No more can Williamson citizens partner in the jailing of non-criminal, innocent people (including little children) and justify doing so because the for-profit prison that holds them has computers and a play-scape. We are called by our American moral tradition to treat all people as we would want to be treated—as we would want our children to be treated. The fact that those people don’t look like us, or speak our language, does not justify our treating them as less than us -- and our children. And it is inconceivable that T Don Hutto prison is a place that any Williamson County citizen would approve for our own children if they were, sadly and simply, awaiting the processing of their application for citizenship and/or asylum.

Judge Gattis was quoted recently as having said that those who oppose T Don Hutto have a right to be heard, but not a right to win. Judge Gattis is wrong; we have every right to win. Our position it the moral, ethical, constitutional one. And we will win because the march of history is on our side.

Texas has had a bit of bad press lately but it is imperative for us to recall that the incredible events of this week are possible, in part, because an improbable Texan took a very risky—but principled—step in moving us to a more perfect union with his introduction of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Additionally, Williamson County citizens have a rightful pride in our place in history, reflecting the best of the American promise, as a result of Dan Moody’s defeat of the Ku Klux Klan and its assault on the rights of Williamson County citizens.

In this time, when our American electorate has rejected torture and deception and division, it is certain that history will take note of T Don Hutto family prison. How we in Williamson County are depicted by that historical account will be a reflection of whether our commissioners and Judge Gattis live up to the heroic standard of Lyndon Johnson and Dan Moody that is the essence of our wonderful Nation.

It is time for Williamson County to reclaim our moral greatness by ending our partnership in the disgraceful family prison in Taylor.