A project of the Center for Community Change

A step forward, but it still won’t free the children from prison

We’ve all gotten word that the government has agreed to settle the lawsuit against Don Hutto Family Prison,

“The federal government and lawyers for immigrant children have announced an agreement to improve living conditions at the nation’s main family detention center for illegal immigrant suspects.

The deal involves the 512-bed T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Tex., which houses about 400 asylum seekers and others suspected of being in the country illegally, about half of whom are children and teenagers…

… The agreement, announced as a trial had been set to begin on Monday, requires improving education, recreation and nutrition for children, hiring a full-time pediatrician, and installing privacy curtains around toilets. It provides for inspections by a federal magistrate, Andrew W. Austin.

“This is a huge victory,” said Vanita Gupta, a lawyer with the Racial Justice Program of the A.C.L.U. “Though we continue to believe that Hutto is an inappropriate place to house children, conditions have drastically improved in areas like education, recreation, medical care and privacy.”” [nytimes, 8/28/07]

It’s a good step forward, particularly for standards at other facilities across the country. However we cannot take this conciliation as the end of the line. Immigrant rights advocates continue to move forward pushing for the rights of families and all detainees.

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