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  • Egberto Willies

Fight the Emancipation Detention Center! Action Kit

Updated: Mar 7

How to engage the community, get educated on what’s happening, and resist the Southwest Key Detention Center on Emancipation Avenue.#StopSWKey #NoSWKey #NoBabyJails


Southwest Key- Mega-Non-Profit under investigation for abusing people in its “shelters”. Juan Sanchez- Recently departed Southwest Key CEO who makes a seven-figure salary. David Denenburg- Property owner of 419 Emancipation who will profit off the facility. City of Houston- Mayor Turner and City Council have said at council that they are “with” those who have advocated against the opening of the facility, but the mayor has changed positions and council has been relatively silent. State of Texas – In addition to permitting, the State of Texas is connected to this fight in that the Legislature can call for hearings on facilities such as those of Southwest Key and call for investigations into the organization.The Community - A large number of protests have been held at the center and at the house of David Denenberg from a wide variety of community organizations and some politicians. Of all of the politicians to have made a statement recently or stood with the community recently, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia is the only elected official to have spoken out against the center loudly and clearly in 2019. Elected officials who initially spoke out against the center include most of city council’s “Democratic” candidates (municipal positions are technically non-partisan), and many of the Democratic candidates in the Houston area for county, state, and federal positions. Some of these candidates won their races. 


a) The baby jail on Emancipation Avenue is run by mega- “non profit” SW Key, a big money operation with an abusive past.

b) SW Key secured one kind of permit it needed (a state permit). However, the organization applied for another that was denied by the city, who initially claimed it would need a permit instead for a detention facility. Southwest Key then applied for a residency permit that would allow residents to come and go as they please. Two advocates who have visited these facilities have openly questioned this claim.

c) SW Key was in court with the City of Houston, who initially claimed opposition to the center based on the fact that it was “housing minors” but has since softly reversed course by saying “opposition was always about the children”. Specifically, the Mayor called a press conference at City Hall with most members of City Council and a variety of other community leaders, electeds, etc. The Mayor stated he did not support separating kids from families. The press conference was June 19th, 2018:

d) The City of Houston indicated in a press release that it no longer opposes the jail and that it will now open, referring to it as a shelter for 16 and 17 year olds. 

e) The State of Texas requires all local permits to be secured in order for a facility to open.

f) Southwest Key’s permit was secured once locks were removed from a few windows and a sprinkler system is updated (according to the City of Houston)

g) The Mayor’s press release on the issue claims the facility is “no longer to house children”, but 16-year-olds will be housed there, making that claim questionable at best. Here is the release the Mayor’s office put out on Valentine’s Day:

h) According to news, Southwest Key Partners was revently close to securing a permit for residency for the proposed Detention Center on Emancipation Avenue. Then, an Advocate from the Indivisible Houston community saw kids on premise through a fence. He shared such information with the Mayor's Communications Director who, after initial pushback, confirmed the claim to be true.

i) Southwest Key has a long history of abuse. 


Background articles:


a) Call/Email/Tweet at City Officials. Tell City officials to demand the State of Texas investigate Southwest Key based on its history of abuses, and to stand against the opening of a proposed baby jail on Emancipation. Demand regular, transparent, well-publicized information about unaccompanied minors released to Houston, the self-described "welcoming city". 

Houston Permit Office

Mayor Turner (713) 697-9221


Secretary: @iammarybenton

DeputyPress Secretary: @tmakrivera


A Councilmember Brenda Stardig

Phone: 832.393.3010 FAX; 832.393.3302



Councilmember Jerry Davis


FAX; 832.393.3291


District C Councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem Ellen Cohen



Twitter: @ellencohen

District D Councilmember Dwight Boykins


FAX; 832.393.3201


District E Councilmember Dave Martin


FAX: 832.393.3279


District F Councilmember Steve Le



Twitter: @SteveLe HTX

District G Councilmember Greg Travis


FAX; 832.395.9571


District H Councilmember Karla Cisneros



DistrictI Councilmember Robert Gallegos



District J Councilmember Mike Laster


FAX; 832.395.9423


Twitter: @_mikelaster

DistrictK Councilmember Martha Castex-Tatum


FAX: 832.395.9410


At-Large1 Councilmember Mike Knox


FAX: 832.395.9472


At-Large 2 Councilmember David Robinson

Phone: 832.393.3013

FAX; 832.395.9455


Twitter: @dwr4hou

At-Large3 Councilmember Michael Kubosh


FAX; 832.393.3251


Twitter:@kuboshmichael(Note: this account is protected).

At-Large4 Councilmember Amanda Edwards

Phone: 832.393.3012

FAX; 832.393.3327


At-Large5 Councilmember Jack Christie


FAX; 832.395.9426


You can also sign up to speak for Tuesday afternoon Public Session by calling theCity Secretary's office at 832.393.1100, sending an email to citysecretary@houstontx.govor coming by the office on the public level of the City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby,Houston 77002 by 1:30 p.m. that Tuesday.

b) Call the Lege.Demand that your state senator and state house rep insist on in-depth investigations into Southwest Key and that all of their facilities be immediately reviewed for abuse. Find your reps here:

c) Write letters.Take action writing letters to Southwest Key reps.

d) Voice your opposition to Southwest Key, their vendors, and David Denenburg via Twitter and phone. SW Key Houston Info ***Call/Tweet and call out Southwest Key***. (512) 462-2181 (512) 462-2181 (832) 844-2251 @southwestkey -------- Manpower staffs for Southwest Key. ***Call/tweet and demand they cease staffing the company.*** Manpower Info (713) 386-1416 @manpower -------- David Denenburg is active in East End construction. ***Call and write the East Downtown Management District and demand they strike him as an encouraged vendor in the East End.*** 1510 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77003 Phone: (713) 591-2014

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