‘People’s tribunal’ to review alleged abuses at Taylor detention center

May 3, 2018
Austin American-Statesman

An advocacy group that helped an asylum seeker gain her release from an immigrant detention center in Taylor plans to put officials “on trial” Saturday, when alleged abuses at the facility will be aired during an unofficial hearing outside the center.

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and the Williamson County Commissioners were invited to the hearing “for their role in the abuse through maintenance of the T. Don Hutto contract and oversight for the facility and crimes committed by CoreCivic employees and ICE officials,” according to a news release from Grassroots Leadership, a local advocacy group.

If no local officials attend the tribunal Saturday, someone will stand in to represent them, said Bethany Carson, a researcher for Grassroots Leadership.

The two-hour event comes after representatives from GrassRoots Leadership and other community members asked Williamson County Commissioners at meetings this spring to address issues at the detention center. The county commissioners never put the item on their agenda, the Grassroots Leadership news release said.

The group has previously asked Chody to investigate sexual assault allegations at the facility, which houses female asylum seekers. Chody has said he referred the issue to the FBI.

In March, GrassRoots Leadership helped Laura Monterrosa — an asylum seeker from El Salvador who has alleged a female guard at the facility sexually assaulted her — gain her release from the center.