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Williamson County Does Not Terminate Hutto Contract

I just returned from Georgetown, where the Williamson County Commissioners Court today amended the T. Don Hutto contract, but did not terminate the county's part of the contract. The new contract will involve a $250,000 legal defense fund in case of lawsuit. CCA will also pay the county $5,000 a month to hire a monitor for the facility.

The public comment section was limited to 10 today, with 9 speaking against Hutto including Scott Medlock from Texas Civil Rights Project, Rev. Mary Ferris, a Presbyterian missionary from Williamson County, Taylor residents Jose Orta and Neal Kopit, Williamson County residents Mary Ellen Kersch, Sherry Dana, and Jane Van Praag, Jay Johnson-Castro from Del Rio, and Dr. Asma Salam from Dallas. The lone voice in favor of the facility was the CCA Warden Evelyn Hernandez.

Nevertheless, it took the commissioners just a few minutes to vote to continue the contract, and no commissioners gave any rationale for their decision. According to the Austin American Statesman:

County commissioners voted unanimously to continue their contract with Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Earlier this month, commissioners took steps to end the contract with CCA by October 2008. While the facility has been controversial, commissioners said they were worried about the county's potential liability stemming from its relationship with the center.

CCA subsequently offered free legal protection and $250,000 for the county should it ever face litigation. Commissioners said Tuesday that CCA's offer assuaged their fears.

The contract will now expire at its original date, Jan. 31, 2009. Commissioners said they'll discuss the possibility of extending the contract closer to its expiration date.

We'll have more on the Hutto issue as it develops.

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