2009

2009 Top Private Prison Stories, #1 Family detention ends at T. Don Hutto

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons.

The end of family detention at Hutto was TPB's biggest story of 2009. 

 #1 Family detention ends at CCA's T. Don Hutto detention center

By the beginning of 2009, perhaps no private prison in the country had become as controversial as Corrections Corporation of America's T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas.  The former medium-security prison was converted into a family detention center in 2006, and had been the site of dozens of vigils, a major lawsuit, two critical documentary films, intense media scrutiny, and a national movement to end family detention. 

So, when the government decided to stop sending immigrant families to Hutto, it was big news. The New York Times lead with this line on August 6th:

[T]he government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire. ...

The decision to stop sending families there - and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers - is the Obama administration's clearest departure from its predecessor's immigration enforcement policies."

Although the facility continues to hold immigrant women, the August  announcement was a huge victory for the movement to end family detention.  The efforts to close Hutto have morphed into a broader movement against private immigrant detention centers, including vigils and protests at the Willacy County Processing Center, the Houston Processing Center, and other facilities around the state. Here's to a 2010 with more victories like the one at Hutto!

2009 Year in Review - Top Private Prison Stories, #5 The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons. 

We would like to thank the loyal and casual readers who gather their information from our website. We have great plans for 2010, including a new interactive Texas map that has information on each private prison facility and we are looking into the plausibility of branching out in to video podcasting. We would like to wish all our readers a happy new year in 2010, and good fortune in the days to come.

-- Judy, Bob, Nick, Nicole, and Andrew

#5 - The 81st Legislative Session ends without increased oversight of private lock-ups

Texas CapitolTexas CapitolDespite several bills filed that would have provided some much-needed oversight to the private jail and detention systems in Texas, the 81st legislative session ended without much in the way of increased accountability of the private prison industry.  We chronicled the role that private prison lobbyists most likely played in killing a number of these bills.  Here's the run-down.  

HB 1714: This bill filed by Rep. Harold Dutton would have prohibited counties from contracting with private prisons.  The bill did not get a hearing this session and died in committee.  

HB 3903: Filed by Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr, the bill subjected private jails to the same open records laws as public facilities, mandated public hearings before privatization of county jails, and made it illegal for a public servant such as a Sheriffs to be paid by a private prison corporations in addition to their regular salaries.  The bill was voted out of the County Affairs committee only to be killed on the House floor by Rep. Tracy King, whose district includes several private jails and detention centers, Rep. Jim McReynods, chair of the House Corrections Committee, and Rep. Jerry Madden former chair of the House corrections committee.

SB 1680: This bill filed by Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa would have required voters to approve bonds used in the financing of constructed correctional facilities.  This bill did not receive a hearing and died in committee.

SB 1690:  Also filed by Sen. Hinojosa, this bill which died in committee as well. The bill would have exteneded oversight to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to monitor county jails that only house federal prisoners, a reversal of 2003's HB 3517, a bill that stripped the Commission from such authority.

We'll be back with Top Private Prison Story #4 soon.

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