Citizens Denounce Hutto Jail before County Commissioners

Receipts Reported by Williamson County Sun Raise Question of Over-Crowding

“I think Williamson County should be ashamed of itself,” said Jane Van Praag of Bartlett, Texas speaking Tuesday before a meeting of the County Commissioners Court.

“You are sanctioning this injustice,” said Efrain Davila of Round Rock.

What they are talking about, of course, is the T. Don Hutto “Residential Center” in nearby Taylor.
“There’s nothing residential about it,” warned Van Praag.

Davila and Van Praag are quoted in the Sunday Sun of Georgetown, Texas, a publication that is not available online.

“Critics say that if it looks like a prison and talks like a prison, then it must be a prison,” writes reporter Ben Trollinger in his front-page story. “It is unjust, they argue, for children to be in such an environment.”

In response to public unrest, several members of the court have pledged to tour the jail.

“The county’s involvement is integral,” writes Trollinger, “because ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] cannot directly contract with a private corporation such as CCA [Corrections Corporation of America]. Without the county’s consent, ICE would be forced to look elsewhere.”

Trollinger says that the county’s contract with ICE would allow commissioners to give the agency 120 days notice to cease operations.

As Efrain Davila suggested, commissioners are complicit in the operation, not only for approving the contract in April, but also for collecting a fee of “about” one dollar per head per day based on the Hutto jail population.

Trollinger reports that the county has been collecting $15,000 to $20,000 per month from ICE–amounts that at “exactly” one dollar per head per day would suggest populations of up to 645 people in a jail that, according to the CCA website, has 512 beds.

Funding for CCA also flows through the county, reports Trollinger. CCA presents its expenses for running the jail to the county, whch then passes the charges to ICE. Writes Trollinger, ICE pays CCA about $95 per day to jail the people at Hutto, or about $2.8 million per month.

Note: Thanks to Jay Johnson-Castro who encouraged us to pick up a copy of the newspaper, which we did right outside the newspaper offices.–gm

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