Monday, July 20, 2009

Texans Protest Williamson County's Hutto Contract

On Tuesday, July 28, Williamson County residents will attend the weekly County Commissioners Court session (9:15 am, 710 Main Street, Georgetown, Tx). The county continues to serve as the intermediary between the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). County residents are outraged that, despite a federal lawsuit and loads of bad press, the county continues to facilitate the detention of families.

County residents are especially concerned that when the legal settlement between the ACLU/University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic and ICE expires in August, there will be no enforceable oversight. As the contractor, Williamson County is liable to ICE for violations and infractions at the facility.

While the facility has been much improved by the stipulations of the settlement (overseen by regular visits from a federal magistrate) Williamson County residents and the families' attorneys remain gravely concerned about conditions at T. Don Hutto. Two facts remain. First, ICE's Family Residential Standards are based on policies used at adult prisons, making them an inappropriate model for the care of families. Second, these standards are not enforceable. That means that CCA and Williamson County can fall out of compliance with little legal recourse by families detained there. While this may be legally convenient for the contractors, it does not release them from the responsibility for the care and welfare of families at Hutto.

For some Williamson County residents, T. Don Hutto is a bad deal for the county, places too much liability on their shoulders, and generates too much bad press for the home towns. They call on the Commissioners' Court to end the contract and close Hutto down.