“What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons.” -- Molly Ivins, 2003

Balanced Perspective on Nacogdoches Private Prison Proposal

Recently, the Daily Sentintenal published an article detailing the politics surrounding the latest Nacogdoches private prison proposal, entitled "Dollars and Sentences: Prisons more than just an issue of economics".

The article's author, Andrew Goodridge, critically analyzes the public policies surrounding prison privatization. The piece also quotes our own Bob Libal who states:

.. Libal described "terrible conditions" in some MTC prisons, including maggots in prisoners' food in the Raymondville, Texas, facility. That prison, which housed illegal immigrants, dubbed a "tent-city" by the media because the facility was not a building, but a series of Kevlar tents that held 200 detainees each, according to an article in The Texas Observer.

Our pal, Scott at Grits for Breakfast also offers an analysis of the article. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety as it provides a great overview of the issue with nuances and all.

Mother Jones Covers Private Prisons

The latest edition of Mother Jones magazine contains several articles related to prison privatization including, "Why Texas Still Holds 'Em," The article discusses the prevalence of family detention and the T. Don Hutto prison. In an excerpt from the article, the author Stephanie Mencimer states:

But Hutto, like [Corrections Corporation of America] CCA itself, has risen from the ashes thanks to a sudden source of new business: the Bush administration's crackdown on immigrants. Historically, Mexicans caught illegally entering the country have been dumped back across the border, while immigrants and asylum seekers from other countries were processed and released to await their court dates.

For those following trends in incarceration, the latest edition of Mother Jones provides a good overview.

Immigrant Detention Concerns as Hurricane Dolly Arrives in South Texas

As Hurricane Dolly pounds parts of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas today, major concerns exist about the potential evacuation of the thousands of immigrant detainees and prisoners being held in the area. Up to 4,200 detainees are held in several detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service in the Valley, including up to 1,200 ICE detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center, a capacity of 3,000 at the MTC's Willacy County Proccessing Center in Raymondville, as well as more than 500 U.S. Marshals detainees at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center and state and county prisoners held at other prison facilities in the area. Significant concerns about the evacuation and treatment of these detainees exist including:

1) ICE has announced the evacuation of the PIDC detainees but has not announced whether the Raymondville detainees are being evacuated. This is of special concern because 2,000 of the Raymondville detainees reside pods made of window-less Kevlar tents, which are unproved in Hurricane-like weather conditions.

2) We've heard that female detainees from Port Isabel are being transfered to Laredo, and that male detainees are being transferred to facilities around the country. Have their family members and lawyers been contacted in advance about the transfer of their clients to other facilities?

3) A large number of detainees with mental illnesses are held at the PIDC. In light of recent reports of some immigrant detainees being drugged in transit and a general lack of mental health and medical care at many ICE detention facilities across the country, it's important to ask if these detainees receiving mental health treatment during their evacuation and if they are being drugged during their transit.
We'll keep you posted on developments from Hurricane Dolly. If you have any news and/or information regarding the evacuation, lack of evacuation, lack of medical care or other issues with evacuation, please let us know.

LULAC Passes National Resolution Against Hutto

The League of United Latin American Citizens has passed a resolution opposing the T. Don Hutto detention center and the policy of family detention. Members of local LULAC chapters as well as the organization's national leadership have been involved in the Hutto vigils for more than a year. Read the text of the resolution signed by national President Rosa Rosales,

WHEREAS, LULAC promotes and defends universal standards of human rights including the rights and humane treatment of undocumented children and their mothers, and

WHEREAS, the lengthy detention of undocumented children, pregnant women and nursing mothers at a private facility called the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Tayler, Texas has reportedly traumatized numerous undocumented children and their parents, and

WHEREAS, this private prison facility called T. Don Hutto Detention Center is reportedly serving as the model for the further expansion for the incarceration of thousands of undocumented families throughout the United States, and

WHEREAS, 200 to 300 families a day are currently being detained for periods of 12 months or longer at T. Don Hutto Detention Center and

WHEREAS, the corporate owner of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center which was formerly a medium security prison, charges the United States Government $200 per day per person detained and

WHEREAS, there are less restrictive alternatives for monitoring the whereabouts of undocumented children and their parents while they await pending immigration hearings

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT LULAC Councils, District, State and National Administration will do everything in their power to close the T.Don Hutto Detention Center immediately and

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that LULAC Councils, District State and National Administrations support petition drives, peaceful public demonstrations, town hall meetings that call for the immediate closure of the T. Don Hutto Detention Facility; AND petition members of the United States Congress to review and reform immigration laws and regulations to include for a path to citizenship and cease the incarceration of innocent children and parents.

Approved this 11th day of July 2008.

Rosa Rosales
LULAC National President

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