“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

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National Prison Rape Elimination Commission in Texas this week

This week the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission is holding hearings in Texas to discuss the prevalence of in-prison sexual assault. The commission will address sexual abuse in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). More than 1,600 sexual assault allegations reported by states last year; over 500 were in Texas alone. Since 2004, 13 allegations of prison sexual assault were reported from private prisons in Texas.

One victim of in-prison sexual assault was 23-year old LeTisha Tapia, who was a prisoner at the Val Verde County Jail managed by GEO Corp. After being labeled a snitch, Tapia was raped male prisoners. She committed suicide following her assault. Recently, Val Verde and GEO settled with Tapia's family for $200,000. Tapia was the mother of a 5-year old son.

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How bad does it need to get before we close Hutto?

Earlier this month, the ACLU filed multiple lawsuits to close Hutto, a prison-for-profit that confines people who are awaiting their immigration detention hearings, and if they're parents, confines their children too. The prison was built as a medium-security prison, but now it's holding families, and roughly half of the people confined there are children. In case you're wondering what a prison that holds children looks like, you can get a look thanks to this two-minute video about Hutto by the ACLU.

But it's not just the ACLU calling for it to close: the Houston Chronicle last week called the Hutto prison " inhumane and shameful." They cited the report issued by Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services that asked for immediate closure of the prison.


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