Isenberg, Back from China, Now Taking on "Child Prisons"

Really, is this any way to repay an old friend? Today, it says here, former Dallas City Plan Commissioner and former Dallas Observer cover story subject Ralph Isenberg -- you remember, the dude who married the Chinese masseuse who, in 2001, pleaded no contest to a prostitution charge -- is going to lead a protest outside of U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions' office today. Why for? "To end child prisons in America." And to think, Sessions and Eddie Bernice Johnson, not to mention the whole of the city council, came to Isenberg's defense when Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved to deport his wife a couple of years back. That's the thanks they get now -- a protest.

Isenberg's new group, called Free the Children Now, describes itself as "a civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights coalition to end the imprisonment of children in America." It doesn't say from whence this movement sprang, so we'll go ahead assume it has something to do with the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center for illegal immigrants in Taylor, where some 400 illegal immigrants -- including 170 children, although officials there won't give exact numbers -- are being held. In The New York Times on Friday, Barbara Hines, clinical professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin said, "I don't think children should be incarcerated at all" and added that the joint for kids "shocked" her.

The prison, of course, became a subject of national debate last week when a Palestinian family held at Hutto for three months -- for overstaying a visa -- was finally released. Among those imprisoned: a 15-year-old boy and girls aged 5, 7 and 13, who were separated from their father. Joining Isenberg at the Sessions protest will be members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) , the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) and Rev. Peter Johnson. Next week, he's moving to Eddie Bernice Johnson's office. And after all the nice things she said about him... --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky