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November 2013

Protest concert planned at T. Don Hutto detention center

Krudas Cubensi
Krudas Cubensi

Musicians and immigrant rights advocates will return to the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas on Sunday, December 1 for a protest concert.  Hutto is the Corrections Corporation of America-operated immigrant detention center that gained notoriety as a family detention center in from 2006-2009.  The facility now detains primarily asylum-seeking women.

Austin-area musicians Son Armado, Kiko Villamizar and Krudas Cubensi will perform for the women held at the immigrant prison starting at 11 a.m. Women held inside Hutto have reported to volunteer visitors that they can hear protesters from inside the facility. "They can hear us in there and our spirit will be felt also," said Kiko Villamizar, who will be performing starting at noon.

This is the second protest concert at Hutto in recent years.

The protest concert is organized by Texans United for Families (TUFF), who are also sponsoring a winter clothing drive to respond to reports from inside Hutto that the facility is not properly heated in the winter months.

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Welcoming new TPB blogger Cristina Parker

Texas Prison Bid'ness is happy to welcome new

 blogger Cristina Parker to our line-up. Cristina is the Immigration Projects Coordinator at Grassroots Leadership, one of the sponsors of Texas Prison Bid'ness.  

Cristina was most recently working with the Border Network for Human Rights and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance on projects that included documenting human rights abuses in border communities and fighting against Arizona-copycat legislation in Texas, among others. 

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina attended the University of Missouri where she earned degrees in journalism and political science.  Read more about Cristina at her blogger page.  

Montgomery County to sell Mental Health Facility to GEO Group

Mongtomery County has decided to sell the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility to Florida-based GEO Group, according to county Judge Alan B. Sadler ("County to Sell Mental Health Facility to GEO," 11/9/13). 

According to the article, county commissioners first put the 100-bed facility on the market in June. The minimum bid for the facility was $35.8 million. Though the GEO Group bid only $35 million at that time, discussions between the two entities continued, despite the county's rejection of GEO's bid in July of this year. 

Assistant County Attorney B.D. Griffin  predicts that he will present a final arrangement between Montgomery County and GEO at the upcoming Commisioners Court on November 18. According to Griffin, "There were a lot of revisions. It took some time."

The mental health facility, was first opened in 2010. Though it cost $33.8 million to build, it was appraised at $22 million.

GEO Group, according to the article, purchased the Joe Corley Detention Center in May, which cost GEO $65 million and generated $22 million in revenue for the county. The mental health facility, however, will not generate revenue; the facility's sale will initially cost the county $2 million to $4 million. Sadler claims that the agreement guarantees that the hospital's total debt will be paid in full, including any voiding of bonds. 

"It allows us to pay off the certificates of obligation used during construction," Griffin claimed. 

The GEO Group's interest in the mental health facility is connected to the company's health care division, GEO Care, which provides mental health treatment and management services for civil, forensic and special-needs psychiatric patient populations. 

 The  medium-security jail is actually right next door to the mental health facility. Both are located on Hilbig Road in Conroe. GEO has also announced that it seeks to build an additional facility on Hilbig Road, with a capacity between 1,000 and 1,500.  


"Expose and Close, One Year Later" features Polk County

Detention Watch Network's report "Expose and Close, One Year Later: The Absence of Accountability in Immigration Detention" features the Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center in Livingston, Texas. The facility is operated by Community Education Centers (CEC). DWN's report highlights human rights violations committed at ten of the nation's worst detention centers, including Polk. 

The U.S. mandates detention for certain immigrants. According to the report, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must detain them without a bond hearing, and other circumstances that allow for release are overlooked. As a result, mandatory detention has created a broken system that ICE cannot manage without a network of 250 prisons, including for-profit prison companies, like CEC. In fact, Congress requires that 34,000 immigrants are detained on any given day in the U.S. 

Conditions inside detention centers-including inadequate access to legal services, family members and friends, as well as denial of access to sunlight, food, and hygiene-drastically affect detained individuals. They are also mistreated by facility personnel, many of whom use racial slurs and discriminate against  detained indivuduals. The denial of basic and more specialized health care, which can cause and exacerbate health problems, is also a widespread problem within the immigrant detention system. Grassroots Leadership staff and representatives from Texans United for Families (TUFF) from Austin, Texas found many of these problems inside Polk, and we are actively campaigning for the facility's closure.