Sexual Abuse Of Female Detainees At Hutto Highlights Ongoing Failure Of Immigration Detention System, Says ACLU

August 20, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org 

NEW YORK – A Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) employee at the T. Don Hutto immigration detention facility in Taylor, TX today was charged with sexually abusing numerous female immigration detainees. Donald Charles Dunn, a resident supervisor at the Hutto facility, is accused of abusing the detainees as he was transporting them to the airport after they had been released on bond and has allegedly admitted to telling the women that he was going to "frisk" them before touching their breasts and genital areas for his gratification, according to Sheriff's officials in Williamson County, TX. Dunn is charged with official oppression and unlawful restraint.

The American Civil Liberties Union is actively investigating the sexual abuse of female detainees at Hutto, where the detention of families was halted last year after the successful settlement of an ACLU lawsuit charging that children were being imprisoned in inhumane conditions while their parents awaited immigration decisions.

As part of its investigation, the ACLU has obtained via the Texas Public Information Act copies of both the Intergovernmental Services Agreement (IGSA) between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CCA and Williamson County, under which the Hutto facility is operated, and ICE's own transport policy. Both documents are being made available to the public and can be found online at: www.aclu.org/huttodocs. The opportunity for abuse was the result of a failure by CCA officials to abide by the IGSA that female immigration detainees not be isolated with male staff members.    

The following can be attributed to Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

"The sexual abuse of numerous immigration detainees at Hutto underscores the systemic failures that continue to plague our nation's broken immigration detention system. The irony is that ICE touts Hutto as a flagship facility, emblematic of its commitment to reform. Clearly, that commitment is shallow. ICE has ignored repeated calls for increased and independent oversight and accountability of its immigration detention facilities and the private contractors like CCA who run them, and tragedies like this are the unfortunate result. It is time for ICE officials to live up to their promise of creating a ‘truly civil' immigration detention system that does not tolerate the abuse and degradation of its detainees."

The following can be attributed to Lisa Graybill, Legal Director of the ACLU of Texas:

"It is long past time to close the book on ICE's relationship with CCA. If this administration is serious about reform, it cannot continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars every month on a private contractor that has proven over and again it is demonstrably incapable of running a safe and humane facility. Immigrant women, many of whom who have fled to the United States seeking refuge from sexual violence, should not fear more of the same in the hands of ICE and its contractors. Zero tolerance starts at the top. The only way for ICE to restore integrity to its system is to immediately sever its contract with CCA and begin a new era of transparency and accountability." 

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