"How would this facility have been if no one found out about it?"
HQ's inner musings still a mystery
"Mommy, where is God that he doesn’t want to help us? Mommy, tell God to come and take us out of here and take us to our house"With its cover story this week, the Nashville Scene becomes the first member of the local media to take Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to task for its failings related to the imprisonment of immigrants.
HispanicNashville.com, in this story about the Hutto immigrant family detention center in Texas, and in this story about deaths of immigrants in CCA custody, followed extensive news coverage of CCA from various media outlets outside Nashville. The established Nashville media, however, have been noticeably absent from the coverage of their hometown corporation, until now.
The Scene story chronicles the pattern of CCA's "controversies" related to treatment of people in its facilities, including one incident that hadn't been reported before. Unfortunately, the Scene did not leverage its proximity to the company to give readers any insight as to how CCA is facing these issues (Have the executive team, the board, or the shareholders considered big-picture questions regarding the detainment of families and children in general? Has anyone at CCA headquarters asked whether, as Amnesty International asserts, child detention itself is improper? Was there a point when CCA's top attorney should have advised against the contracts to detain children at Hutto, as one letter to President Bush asserts?). Neither CCA nor its corporate insiders are quoted in the article; they refused to comment, and the Scene wasn't able to get anyone at the Burton Hills headquarters to talk about the big picture.
From the story:
In the last 18 months alone, CCA has been the target of several stinging lawsuits supported by detailed afﬁdavits and third-party reports alleging dangerous and inhumane practices that have put inmates’ lives at risk. Whistle blowers, once in positions of trust at CCA, have emerged from the shadows to tell vivid tales of corporate misconduct. Federal authorities have castigated the publicly traded corporation for operating an immigration detention facility in Texas on the cheap. And at that CCA complex—which at one point forced children of immigrant detainees to dress in prison garb—dozens of incarcerated women and children have come forward with gut-wrenching tales of anguish and neglect.Image copyright Nashville Scene. Used with permission.
Elsa and her children wore prison uniforms and spent hours in their pod, often with no toys or books for the kids. One day, Elsa and her family were in the doctor’s ofﬁce, where all the kids were playing with crayons. Angelina drew a picture, but a guard grabbed the girl’s artwork. She cried a lot at Hutto, wondering what her family had done wrong.
“Mommy, where is God that he doesn’t want to help us? Mommy, tell God to come and take us out of here and take us to our house,” Elsa recalled her daughter saying. “Mommy, why do they have us as prisoners if we have never killed anybody?”
By all accounts, Hutto is no longer as oppressive as it was when Elsa and her family ﬁrst arrived from Honduras. But why didn’t CCA get it right from the start? Or to put it more bluntly, why did a rich company—one with $388 million in revenues last quarter—have to be told by the ACLU to cease treating innocent children like criminals?
“The point I’d like to make is that none of these changes were done voluntarily,” says [Barbara] Hines, the attorney. “When you look at CCA and ICE, the question is, how would this facility have been if no one found out about it?”