“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

Prisoners Escape from CCA Prison

Recently, two prisoners escaped from the CCA-run Mineral Wells facility. Sadly ironic, since the prison is a pre-parole facility where prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are sent when they have less than one year left on their sentence. The unit holds about 2,100 prisoners.

According to correctional officials, the two escapees -- who were discovered missing during an early morning prisoner count -- were spotted by a law enforcement helicopter within five miles of the prison on private property.

The prisoners were arrested and could now face felony escape charges and more prison time.

Blogging Categories: 

Denials Stack Up Against Government's Weak Defense of Hutto

The federal court hearing the case against the imprisonment of families in CCA's Hutto prison awarded several victories to the families last week, rejecting the assorted requests for dismissal or delay in the case presented by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Denial #1: ICE's attorneys argued (unsuccessfully) that since ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has released all ten of the children who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the suit should be dismissed. Except that the judge noted that all the people who have been released could be re-detained at any time... as in, once the lawsuit has been dismissed. Thus, a resounding denial to ICE for dismissal of the case.

Denial #2: ICE then argued that if the judge wouldn't dismiss based on the previous claim, that he stay (delay) the litigation to give them time to settle. This section of their brief is titled "The Release of All Ten Plaintiffs Make this an Ideal Time to Mediate the Dispute As Envisioned Under the FSA." Or it could be titled, "This Litigation Will Reveal Things About Hutto We Want to Hide... Can You Please Delay it For As Long as Possible?" But the judge slammed that request down. From the ruling:

It has, however, been this Court's experience that an impending trial date tends to facilitate settlement far more effectively than a stay of all proceedings. Moreover, reasonable discovery is necessary to facilitate a settlement of this case. ...This discovery may well be inconvenient, but it does not appear to be "onerous," particularly in light of the limitations... to which Plaintiffs have agreed.

Denial #3: ICE also asked the judge to dismiss the case on a stangely inventive technicality: that the ACLU had not exhausted "administrative remedies" before turning to litigation. But that argument didn't make it very far. The court expressed "confusion and frustration" with this interpretation of the situation, and pointed out that there is no requirement of this nature. He specifically noted that the government does not have any "rights" that have been violated by the lawsuit, and denied their request for dismissal.

Denial #4: One of the May 9th rulings also allows for consolidation of the cases as requested by the families -- and opposed by ICE. In the words of the judge, the government provides "no reason why consolidation would be inadvisable in these clearly related cases." Consolidation of cases has been granted to the families --- another "no" to the weak arguments of ICE.

ICE was put on notice in April that there's a good chance that the families will prove their case. But they're still fighting every step of the way, and are now using the litigation as a pretext for barring a UN expert and the local media.

Want to Read the Court Documents?

There is a fairly comprehensive archive of legal documents on the Hutto case on the web thanks to the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. But the latest rulings aren't posted there yet, so we have PDF versions of the May 9th Hutto orders below. More rulings and orders are sure to follow as ICE continues to flout the law and common sense with the imprisonment of families at Hutto.

Blogging Categories: 

Scandal Prompts Warden to Resign from Private Prison

Grits for Breakfast recently posted on the departure of Warden Ron Alford from the Dickens County Correctional Center (DCCC). News reports stated that Alford resigned amid complaints from Idaho prisoners housed there and after an Idaho prisoner committed suicide at the private prison.

Corrections officials reported finding problems with access to treatment programs, poor lighting, inadequate out-of-cell time and food, clothing and cleanliness. DCCC is run by the GEO Group.

This is not the first time that Idaho has removed its prisoners from a GEO run facility in Texas. In July of 2006, the Beaumont Enterprise reported that the Idaho Department of Corrections was planning to transfer 419 prisoners following allegations of prisoner mistreatment, prisoner protests and an escape from a private prison in Newton. Idaho Department of Correction agreed to transport 419 of their inmates out of the Southeast Texas prison and into yet another GEO Group-managed facility.

Blogging Categories: 

Hutto Prison Troubles Continue To Gain Notice Even as They Reject UN Expert

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is facing increasing criticism about the problems inside the T. Don Hutto prison. The website "Texas Civil Rights Review" has compiled a detailed list of problems with conditions at the T. Don Hutto prison for immigrant families. They're all the types of problems one would expect when a corporation is running a prison for profit: inadequate medical care, inappropriate levels of security, a lack of appropriate legal materials and programming. And of course, additional problems that come with keeping 200 children in a prison while you determine their immigration status: lack of appropriate schooling, supervision, and nutrition.

T. Don Hutto Prison in TaylorvilleT. Don Hutto Prison in Taylorville -- this older image shows the razor wire they took down earlier this year Maybe CCA has improved conditions since some of these problems were dcoumented, but it's hard to say since Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) won't let in Jorge Bustamante, a U.N. expert on protecting migrants from abuse, and they won't let the local media in either (this report includes some video footage shot outside the prison during the protest outside Hutto on Monday).


Blogging Categories: 


Subscribe to Texas Prison Bid'ness RSS