Asylum-seeking women report that hunger strike is expanding within the detention center, retaliation continues
(AUSTIN, Texas) — On day 6 of the hunger strike initiated Wednesday night by 27 women, women inside the detention center have reported that the hunger strike is spreading rapidly and in at least one section of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, nearly all women are now participating.
Women detained at the facility also reported retaliation against the hunger strikers has intensified. Insis, a Garífuna woman from Honduras participating in the hunger strike, reported being held in solitary confinement since 3 p.m. on Saturday until Monday morning. She reports being held in a medical confinement room in extremely cold conditions as punishment for engaging in the hunger strike and boldly denouncing conditions of her detention. Read her handwritten statement detailing the this retaliation against her here.
Other forms of retaliation that hunger strikers report include:
- Threats of transfer to other facilities
- Threats of deportations
- Disciplinary reports filed for women who refuse to leave their dorm at meal times
- Intense surveillance of women perceived to be leaders of the hunger strike
- Removal of evening outside recreation time and restricted mobility within the facility
- Attempts to force women to eat and drink in front of guards
The T. Don Hutto detention center is a for-profit detention center operated by private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America in Taylor, Texas. It is the nation’s only all-women’s detention center, and nearly all of the more than 500 women detained there are seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing violence and persecution in their countries of origins.
Hutto came under intense scrutiny as the nation’s largest family detention center between 2006-2009. Hutto has been the subject of two federal sexual abuse investigations and a class-action lawsuit filed in 2011 on behalf of immigrant women who alleged they were sexually assaulted while in the custody of ICE.
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.