T. Don Hutto

Terrell Don Hutto, T. Don Hutto, was one of the three co-founders of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), whose establishment marked the beginning of the private prison industry during the era of former President Ronald Reagan.[2] In 1983, Hutto, Robert Crants and Tom Beasley formed CCA and received investments from Jack C. Massey, the founder of Hospital Corporation of America, Vanderbilt University, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.[3][4]:81–2 The T. Don Hutto Residential Center, one of CCA's detention centers, was named after him.[5]

Terrell Don Hutto
Born (1935-06-08) June 8, 1935 (age 84)
Sinton, Texas, United States
EducationEast Texas State University BA (1958)
Alma materEast Texas State University
OccupationCorrections Management executive
Known forCo-founder of Corrections Corporation of America (1983)
Spouse(s)Nancy Sue Moore m. June 10, 1960
Children3 daughters
Parent(s)Terrell Sanford Hutto and Winnie Elvenia (Cusler) Hutto[1]

Parents and familyEdit

Hutto parents were Winnie Elvenia Cusler Hutto and Terrell Sanford Hutto, a farmer who died when Hutto was nine years old.[1] Hutto and his wife, Nancy Sue Moore, who were married on June 10, 1960, had three daughters.[1]


Hutto earned his degree in history and sociology at East Texas State University in 1958.[1][2] He did further studies at the Southern Methodist University (1959), the American University (1964),[6][7]:21 and Sam Houston State University (1967) but did not earn a master's degree.[1] When he came back to Texas after several years in military service, Hutto passed the prison system accreditation exams and began working in the prison system.[1]

Early careerEdit

Ramsey, Texas state prison farmEdit

Hutto worked from 1967 to 1971 as a teacher, assistant prison warden and warden at the Ramsey prison farm for African American prisoners in southeastern Texas.[8] The W. F. Ramsey Unit, as it was known then, consisted of five former plantations that used a convict leasing system on working plantations.[9] In 1967 Hutto and his family lived in a plantation home on the prison farm.[6][7][10]

While working at Ramsey Unit, Hutto met Bruce Jackson,[11]:14 an ethnographer turned photographer, who was collecting photos as reference material for his research on the songs of African Americans inmates in prisons in Texas. The two became friends, which gave Jackson access to prisons in both Texas and Arkansas.

Director Department of CorrectionsEdit

Before becoming director of corrections in Arkansas and Virginia, Hutto worked as teacher, "correctional officer, counselor, assistant warden and warden of a state prison".[2]

Context of prison reformEdit

Soon after Winthrop Rockefeller was elected as Arkansas State Governor in January 10, 1967, he received a shocking 67-page report by the Arkansas State Police, that "uncovered systematic corruption and brutality at Tucker farm, where inmates and prison officials alike engaged in torture, beatings and bribery."[12][13] The report listed the findings of a 1966 State Police investigation ordered by then-Governor Orval Faubus, just before Rockefeller was elected.[12] By 1967, the two male prisons in Arkansas were the smaller Tucker State Prison Farm for younger white prisoners, and the 1,300-inmate[11] Cummins prison, located along the Arkansas River, 75 miles southeast of Little Rock, in Lincoln County[14] for "white and black adult inmates".[12] According to a 1968 Time article entitled "Hell in Arkansas", in the 1960s, the two state penal farms "averaged" profits of "about $1,400,000 over the years..." using prisoners as forced labor.[11][13][15]

As part of reform of the Arkansas prison system, Governor Rockefeller created a new Department of Corrections and hired the first professional penologist, Tom Murton, as prison superintendent in 1967. On January 29, 1968, Murton invited the media to witness the unearthing of three decayed skeletal remains in a remote part of the 16,000-acre grounds of the Cummins prison farm. They believed the skeletons were those of prisoners murdered at Cummins,[12] although this was never proven.[16][17]

According to a March 22, 2018 article in the Arkansas Times, during his short tenure of less than one year, Murton's aggressive approach to uncovering Arkansas' prison scandal with its decades-long systemic corruption, embarrassed Rockefeller and "infuriated conservative politicians".[12] Murton had attracted nationwide media attention and contempt for Arkansas,[14] as news of Bodiesburg, as it was called, spread.[12] Murton's co-authored 1969 book, Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal was the basis for the fictionalized 1980 film Brubaker starring Robert Redford.[18]

As well, in 1969 prisoners, Robert Finney, et al., started a litigation process naming Terrell Don Hutto, et al. The series of cases lasted almost a decade and resulting in the Supreme Court landmark case Hutto v. Finney 437 U.S. 678 (437 U.S. 678 (1978)). It was the first successful lawsuit filed by an inmate against a correctional institution. The case also clarified prison system's unacceptable punitive measures.[19]

Against this backdrop, Hutto was hired by Governor Dale Bumpers in 1971 as the head of the Arkansas Department of Correction,[1] with a mandate of "humanizing" the "convict farms".[11][15] In 1971, Jackson visited Hutto at Cummins prison.[11] Jackson had gone there to investigate how Hutto was changing Arizona prisons. However, as he took photos he "found more and more that my interest was in documenting it visually."[15][20] In 2010, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University featured Jackson's Cummins Unit photo collection.[15][21]

American Correctional AssociationEdit

Hutto was president-elect of the American Correctional Association (ACA) from 1984 to 1990. The ACA, which serves as a both the "national regulatory body for prisons" and as a trade association for the American correctional industry,[22] under Hutto's tenure, began to support prison privatization.[1][2][3]

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)Edit

Corrections Corporation of America, (now renamed as CoreCivic), "the world’s first and largest for-profit prison operator",[23] was established by Hutto, Beasley, and Crants in Nashville, Tennessee on January 28, 1983.[24][25] At the time Beasley served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, and Crants was the chief financial officer of a real estate company in Nashville.[25] Maurice Sigler, the former chairman of the United States Board of Parole, was a founding member.[25]

In a February 27, 2013 CCA video entitled, "Corrections Corporation of America's Founders Tom Beasley and Don Hutto", Beasley and Hutto said that because of Hutto's reputation through his years of experience in corrections and as president-elect of the American Correctional Association, a first meeting about a potential joint venture to detain illegal aliens in Texas, took place between Beasley, Hutto, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) which operated under U.S. Department of Justice from 1933 to 2003.[26] As a result of the initial meeting, CCA were awarded an RFB with INS, which was the "first contract ever to design, build, finance and operate a secure correctional facility." This marked the beginning of the private prison industry.[23][26] Hutto, described how at the time, INS had "unrealistic expectations" putting pressure on CCA to have the facilities ready by early January, ninety days from the signing of the contract. In a desperate attempt to find a solution, Hutto and Beasley flew to Houston, Texas and after several days managed to negotiate a deal with the owner of Olympic Motel—a "pair of non-descript two-story buildings" on "I-45 North between Tidwell and Parker"[23]—to hire their family and friends to staff the re-purposed motel for four months. On Super Bowl Sunday at the end of January, the first 87 undocumented aliens were personally processed by Hutto and CCA received their first payment.[26]

By 2016, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) along with Geo Group were running "more than 170 prisons and detention centres". CCA's revenues in 2015 were $1.79bn.[27]


IN 1987 Hutto received the American Correctional Association's E.R. Cass Correctional Achievement Award, the ACA's highest professional honor.[2][28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Woodward, Colin Edward (August 9, 2017). "Terrell Don Hutto (1935–)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e The CCA Story: Our Company History, Corrections Corporation of America, nd, retrieved February 13, 2017, New companies are created every day. But it’s not every day that new industries are established. ... In Arkansas, Hutto implemented the compliance requirements of the Holt v. Sarver case, making him one of the few corrections professionals in the nation at the time with experience in successfully bringing a system out of federal court supervision.
  3. ^ a b Harmon L. Wray, Jr. (1989). "Cells for Sale". Southern Changes: The Journal of the Southern Regional Council. 8 (3). Retrieved February 13, 2017. Another West Point alum and major CCA investor is T. Don Hutto, the corporation's executive vice-president. Hutto, an ex-prison guard who became commissioner of corrections in Virginia and Arkansas, has since 1984 been president of the American Correctional Association, which oversees prison accreditation standards. Unlike other corrections-related professional associations[...]the ACA under Hutto's tenure has supported prison privatization.
  4. ^ Donna Selman and Paul Leighton (2010). Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge. New York City: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ The history of T. Don Hutto, December 3, 2007, retrieved February 13, 2017
  6. ^ a b Bauer, Shane (2018). "The Straight Line From Slavery to Private Prisons: How Texas Turned Plantations into Prisons". Literary Hub. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Bauer, Shane (September 18, 2018). American Prison: a Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 368. ISBN 0735223580.
  8. ^ Trulson, Chad R., James W. Marquart, and Ben M. Crouch. First Available Cell: Desegregation of the Texas Prison System. University of Texas Press, 2009. 81. Retrieved from Google Books on July 16, 2010. ISBN 0-292-71983-3, ISBN 978-0-292-71983-5.
  9. ^ "Convict Leasing and State Account Farming (1883-1909)." Texas State Library and Archives. Retrieved on April 29, 2011.
  10. ^ "Shockingly Candid Photos Of Life on a 1970s Arkansas Prison Farm: "Just about everyone carrying a gun was a convict"". Mother Jones. August 9, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2018. Photography by Bruce Jackson
  11. ^ a b c d e Jackson, Bruce. Pictures from a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture. Trinity University Press.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Woodward, Colin Edward (March 22, 2018). "The Arkansas prison scandal". Arkansas Times. Little Rock, Arkansas. Retrieved October 16, 2018. In the 1960s, Tom Murton attempted to reform Cummins prison farm, but lost his job after unearthing three skeletons on the grounds.
  13. ^ a b "Hell In Arkansas". TIME. February 9, 1968. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn (October 19, 1990). "Thomas Murton, 62, a Penologist Who Advocated Reforms, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d Estrin, James (May 27, 2009). "Showcase: A Wide View of a Hellish World". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  16. ^ Feeley, Malcolm M.; Rubin, Edward L. (March 28, 2000) [June 13, 1998]. Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America. Cambridge University Press. p. 490. ISBN 0521777348. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  17. ^ "Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678 (1978)". Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  18. ^ Murton, Tom; Hyams, Joe (1969). Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal. New York, U.S.: Grove Press. ISBN 9780718101107.
  19. ^ "Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678 (1978)". Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  20. ^ Choate, Laura (July 19, 2018). "Prison Reform". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Conway, Arkansas. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  21. ^ Kurutz, Steven (September 4, 2010). "Speakeasy: Bruce Jackson on how he became the dean of prison folklore". Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ Bauer, Shane (June 2016). "My four months as a private prison guard". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c Houston to Host World’s First Museum Dedicated to the Private Prison Industry, Free Houston Press, October 14, 2014, retrieved February 13, 2017
  24. ^ CCA History
  25. ^ a b c Quade, Vicki (November 1983). "Jail Business: Private firm breaks in". American Bar Association Journal. 69 (11): 1611–1612. JSTOR 20756517.
  26. ^ a b c Corrections Corporation of America's Founders Tom Beasley and Don Hutto. CCA. February 27, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  27. ^ Rupert Neate (June 16, 2016), Welcome to Jail Inc: how private companies make money off US prisons, Austin, Texas: The Guardian, retrieved February 13, 2017, In a bid to cut costs, more state prisons and county jails are adding healthcare to the growing list of services that are outsourced to for-profit companies
  28. ^ "E. R. Cass Award Recipients". Washington, DC: American Correctional Association. 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2018.