Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Morality of Jailing Innocent Children

See the excellent new website and blog focusing on the T. Don Hutto detention center for immigrant families in Taylor, Texas. Via Eye on Williamson County, which also brings us this video of Texas Civil Rights Project Attorney Scott Medlock discussing the morality and economics of incarcerating children who've committed no crime:


Anonymous said...

Are they in the country illegally? Then they and their parents hold the keys to their cells.

Are they American citizens? Then put them in foster care and begin proceedings to revoke the parental rights of their illegal alien parents and make them available for adoption -- unless the parents agree to immediate deportation and take the kids with them.

Sound harsh? Yep -- but then again, the source of the problem is parental law-breaking. What next? Stop jailing criminals who are parents because of the hardship on the child?

Once again, we see that some folks are so soft-hearted that they become soft-minded as well.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So now it's "soft minded" to think children shouldn't be punished - IN JAIL - literally for the "sins of the fathers"?

I won't say what I think of that opinion, but it rhymes with "loopid." ;)

Anonymous said...

Keeping innocent children in jail is truly immoral.

Depriving them of adequate care including medical care, nutrition and education is just plain wrong.

Williamson County Commissiners just wants to make money. They don't care who suffers. The probability that these children are not being properly an humainly cared for it very high given the track record of "for profit" facilities.

The days of the wild west are over. If Williamson County isn't careful, this entire T. Don Hutto disgrace will end up costing the taxpayers far more than it is worth.

Anonymous said...

"Soft-minded" is an excellent way to describe the moronic idea that kids should be imprisoned, or taken away from their parents, on illegal immigration charges.

The Hutto facility is more evidence of the irrational mania in Texas for locking up kids.

Nice "family values."

Anonymous said...

Hey, I pointed out that the key is in the hands of the parents. Accept deportation.

i suppose, of course, we could split up the families and place the kids in foster care -- billing the governments of their home countries for the costs to the state of texas.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It's true, RWR, it's hard to square that rhetoric with "family values." Especially since these are civil, not criminal charges, and nobody has accused the detainees of a crime (save polemicists like yourself). The only actual immigration "crime" is illegal entry, and large numbers enter legally and simply overstay a visa.

I know, I know - it's "soft headed" to pay attention to the law, and somehow conservative to label people "criminals" when it's not true. Right?

Anonymous said...

The family values I am much more concerned about are the ones that enable me to care for my money without the drain on my wallet caused by the tax burden associated with providing for the needs of those who are in our country illegally.

After all -- family values start at home. And these parents are busy teaching their kids that breaking the law is OK if it is inconvenient.

Oh, and Grits -- if you are going to cite the "sins of the father" line, you might go and look it up in the Bible. The Lord does note that the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. If you have a problem with the justice of such situations, take it up with the Deity who originated that standard.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Me and the Deity disagree on that one, RWR. I also do not believe in stoning disobedient children, killing homosexuals, owning or trading slaves, or quite a few other Old Testament Greatest Hits.

But here's where I see a disconnect. You write you want family values that "enable me to care for my money without the drain on my wallet caused by the tax burden associated with providing for the needs of those who are in our country illegally."

So why not give amnesty, let them live here legally, come out of the shadows, work, pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and earn citizenship over time? That costs you and your family much less than walls, jails, tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents and all that mess. And then you don't have to be the guy who goes around arguing why innocent kids should be locked up.

I never understand conservatives who believe in free markets but not free labor markets. At least the Pat Buchanan paleos are consistent (both protectionist AND nativist), but I'm amazed how many free marketeers think the labor market is immune to Adam Smith's dicta. Seriously, how do you square that?

Anonymous said...

So, Grits, we let them live here legally, "come out of the shadows, work, pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and earn citizenship..." How many more would have to be absorbed? Where does it stop? How many is enough? Do our laws mean nothing at all? Would not all of those people immediately qualify for some sort of govenment assistance and then how hard would they be willing to work and "contribute to the economy?"

Signed -- Not Trying to be Polemic

Anonymous said...

Better idea -- why not round them up, ship them back, and in their place let in folks who are law-abiding? You know, the sort of people we want.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Labor markets ultimately decide such things, Not Trying, we don't need the government to micromanage the economy at that level, and doing so creates black markets and inefficiences. There were no numerical limits on immigration until the 1960s, and the limits weren't absurdly restricted until about 30 years ago. For most of its history this region (which of course used to BE Mexico) has seen ample immigration and emigration, both directions, and IMO it's only ever benefited Texas.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Round them up, ship them back"

Blah, blah, blah. Rhetoric with not a tinge of reality, RWR. What rhymes with "ridiculous"? Even if what you propose were possible, it would make us no better than the guy that did this.

Latin American immigrants are much more law abiding than American citizens, RWR, by far - what you're saying is empirically just not true. You'd remove more of the criminal element by deporting large numbers of American citizens!

Anonymous said...

Visiting the "sins of the father" upon children may be Biblical but it is un-American.

The Constitution explicitly states that no "corruption of blood" shall be cause for criminal punishment. Those revolutionaries and their crazy ideas about inherited status...

Daniel said...

Howdy Grits,

Latin American immigrants are much more law abiding than American citizens

Unlike American citizens, all illegal immigrants break the law every day they wake up on US soil.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits Check this out:

Hurley said the increasing shortage of guards reached a critical level in recent days

Twelve guards resigned during September and October, and 11 others are on extended medical leave, officials said. Forty-nine guard jobs are open. Hurley said three guards resigned in the past two weeks.

He said the latest resignations were not related to a recent decision by Youth Commission officials to delay paychecks for overtime earned in November.

Every facility is very short staff and they sit up in Austin and wonder why??

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"all illegal immigrants break the law every day they wake up on US soil."

By the choice of US lawmakers, Daniel, not their own. They're abiding by the laws that matter for public safety, and if they could get a drivers license and SSN they'd abide by those laws, too.

Where does this fantasy come from that we're going to sponsor some Stalin-esque population transmigration? Ain't gonna happen. These folks live here. Their kids are Americans. Let's bring them out of the shadows.

Anonymous said...

what the heck is a polemicist?

Anonymous said...

Oh wait, I found it in the dictionary....but I don't want to debate or argue it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I didn't mean it negatively, just descriptively! I co-founded a magazine named "Polemicist" back in college, so for me it was a familiar and non-judgmental reference.

Daniel said...

Howdy Grits,

By the choice of US lawmakers, Daniel, not their own. They're abiding by the laws that matter for public safety, and if they could get a drivers license and SSN they'd abide by those laws, too.

By your logic, do those American law-breakers get to redefine what matters?

I think this is where you and I diverge... all laws matter. They might not be good ones, but they should be followed until changed.

Anonymous said...

"The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children to the third and fourth generations." That, or something very close to that, is in the Hebrew scriptures, in the context of the Ten Commandments, if my memory serves me right. (It usually does, in matters such as this.) But the Bible does not always agree with itself. And it does not, in this matter. Look up Ezekiel chapter 18, where the prophet prefaces his argument with "The word of the LORD came to me." He then spends most of a chapter arguing against the proverb, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." Not so, says Ezekiel, it's the person who does wrong who shall be punished.

On the subject of "illegal immigrants," let those who would round them up and deport them, or put their children in jail, chew on this a little while. The Hebrew scriptures (and I'm not going to cite chapter and verse--get a concordance in do a little Bible study on the subject)in more than one place say to treat the alien like a citizen. (Hint: it can be found in the same section of the Bible as the oft-quoted statement that it is an abomination for a man to "lie with" a man.) So, I refer to the so-called "illegal aliens" as "undocumented neighbors." And the Bible, both Hebrew and New Testament, is very clear that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

What should be official, legal policy toward our undocumented neighbors? In our context, in our society, I confess that I do not know. I think that I do know that building fences or enacting laws will not solve the issue as long as there is a huge disparity in the standard of living of people living on the two sides of the imaginary line between Mexico and the United States.

Charles Kiker, Ph. D. in Biblical Literature (I would sign in with a Google account, but I have trouble remembering passwords etc. I have received anonymous letters. I am constitutionally indisposed to write them.)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ Daniel:

"They might not be good ones, but they should be followed until changed."

And I'm arguing for changing them because we know for an empirical fact they don't address the real problems and cost more money than they're worth. Is there any confusion here that I'm criticizing current policy? Your argument is "It is, so it should be." On that we do diverge, that's just pedantry run amok. When a law leads to locking kids up in private jails on any large scale, it's time to rethink it.

(As an aside I wonder where are all the real free market supporters on this, and why do they come out on the wrong side? Markets don't respect borders. If you believe in free markets you must also accept that labor markets must be free, and that means allowing legal immigration. The business-class GOPers are right on this one.)

Daniel writes "all laws matter." Really? Texas has 2,324 felonies on the books, eleven of them involving oysters. Do they all REALLY matter? Don't you think if actual small-government conservatives were running things they'd find other ways to manage most of those problems in civil society without keeping 4.6% of the adult population under state supervision?!

All laws don't matter, or at least some don't matter much. Many of them are just stupid. Some laws matter more than others. A cop writing a traffic ticket will leave without finishing to intervene in an assault. Our government and society make choices, and the ones we've made on immigration have led to more and more severe unintended consequences until now, I think, it's time to call BS on this foolishness. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

So, Grits, how many is enough? When South and Central America have emptied into the U.S. and Canada?

If we could do a better job at the borders and enforce the laws, I would be open to discussing some sort of forgiveness for those who have broken our laws. I have sympathy for the children, but their parents are responsible for their current situation. Right now, all I can see is a steady stream north of people with growing political power and shrinking regard for our laws. The numbers will slow down if we begin to enforce the law.

The U.S. admits many times the number of LEGAL immigrants as any other country in the world. We also deliver many times the foreign aid as any other country. Every other nation seems to have the right to decide who comes in, who stays, and for how long, why not the U.S.? Maybe I'm a ninny, but I can imagine a time when no one would want to come here, as we will have stopped being a country with laws.

Signed -- Polemicist Who Might be a Ninny

Anonymous said...

I love those who invoke the rule of law when it comes to immigration while totally disregarding the rule of law in the conduct of foreign policy, the war powers, spying on us, warehousing American citizens indefinitely without charges, the operation of the Department of Justice, etc etc.

Many of the same people who are eager to give the current President and Vice President the powers of a monarch and usurp our Constitution are the same ones who fastidiously cite the "rule of law" on immigration.

This gives the impression that the law only matters when it is ideologically convenient.

Anonymous said...

4:38, which Americans are being "warehoused indefinitely without charges?" and where? And, while the consitution is being usurped, which rights have you lost? Have you been spied on? I don't blame you for being alarmed.


Anonymous said...

9:56 a.m., you can call them your "undocumented neighbors" if you want to. Someone more witty than I said recently that we should refer to a bank robbery as an "undocumented withdrawal," and shoplifting as an "undocumented purchase." Just because so many millions of people have done it and gotten away with it, doesn't make it all right.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Just because so many millions of people have done it and gotten away with it, doesn't make it all right."

That's true. It only makes it unenforceable through mass incarceration.

Reality, meet Ideology. I think you'll find you have nothing in common.