Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The New Yorker has an in-depth article about the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a privately run prison where half the detainees are children. This prison is located in Taylor Texas, USA.

Hutto was a medium-security adult prison until it was converted to house families of illegal immigrants. This video provides a glimpse into the lives of the people who were detained there:

The prison population does not include Mexican immigrants because when undocumented Mexican immigrants are caught, they are automatically sent home. Instead, many of these families are asylum seekers escaping persecution in their home countries of Iraq, Somalia, Iran, or Romania. Many of them had passed the "well-founded fear" interview which is the first step in seeking asylum in the United States.

After the ACLU sued the Department of Homeland Security, many improvements have been made including providing an on-site pediatrician, eliminating the count system which forced families to stay in their cells 12 hours a day, and installing privacy curtains around toilets.

However, the New Yorker article is not just about the conditions at Hutto -- it also takes a hard look at C.C.A. (Corrections Corporation of America) which runs Hutto. Incarcerating an immigrant at Hutto costs about $61 a day, but releasing an immigrant with close supervision and electronic monitoring only costs about $12 a day. So why did the government cut this deal with C.C.A.?

C.C.A. has strong political ties. The New Yorker article states that "The company’s PAC gave more than three hundred thousand dollars during the 2006 election cycle, overwhelmingly to Republican congressional candidates, and has given more than a hundred thousand so far for the 2008 elections," and also "According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2005, the year that Homeland Security awarded C.C.A. the Hutto contract, the company paid close to $3.4 million dollars to five different firms to lobby the federal government." Also, Philip Perry, who is the son-in-law of Dick Cheney, lobbied for C.C.A. That might have something to do with it.

No comments: