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ACLU Investigates Sexual Abuse of Female Immigration Detainees

After a former immigration detention guard was charged yesterday with sexually abusing female detainees, the ACLU is renewing calls for further reform of the immigration detention system.

The alleged abuse took place in the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, near Austin, Texas. The resident supervisor, Donald Dunn, 30, was charged Thursday with three counts of official oppression and two counts of unlawful restraint, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The facility is managed by Correction Corporation of America, a private detention and corrections contractor.

The ACLU said Corrections Corporation of America officials were violating policy by allowing female immigration detainees to be isolated with male staff members. After an ACLU investigation into sexual abuse at the Hutto facility, Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, said the charges show additional need for reform:

“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.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s major detention reform has so far been considered lackluster by immigrants rights groups, and abuses at the Hutto facility are a bad sign. ICE announced plans to reform its detention system last year, touting an overhaul of the Hutto facility as one of them. ICE officials converted the facility, which was formerly a state prison, from family detentions to female detainees only after criticism of inhumane conditions for detained children.

ICE has already demanded some changes to the facility: After allegations of abuse this May, Corrections Corporation of America was put on probation by ICE and ordered to forbid male guards from being alone with female detainees.

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