Judge issues restraining order in family detention center case

May 4, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

A state district judge in Travis County has issued a temporary retraining order against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, preventing the agency from issuing a childcare license to one of two controversial family detention centers in South Texas.

Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies, and two detainee mothers on Tuesday asked Judge Karin Crump to invalidate new regulations that went into effect in February and allow the state to issue childcare licenses to the facilities. The state family services department, the plaintiffs say, never had the authority to rewrite the rules and give itself the power to regulate the centers.

Crump on Wednesday agreed to issue the restraining order until May 13, when the court will take up the plaintiffs’ request on the new regulations.

“This is a very good sign that the judge has recognized that we must, at least temporarily, halt the appalling practice of calling family prisons childcare centers,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.