When an inmate in a Texas juvenile prison complained of an administrator’s sexual advances, swift and merciless punishment followed: The teenager was thrown into an isolation cell “and put in shackles for over 13 hours.” The Dallas Morning News says the 2004 embodies the culture of retaliation that permeates the Texas Youth Commission. It’s an agency where fear and intimidation rule, inmates and employees told the newspaper.
As lawmakers and the governor dismantle the scandal-wracked agency that runs juvenile prisons, bitter inmates and employees give accounts of institutionalized vengeance. Retributive violence against youth is ignored or covered up; incident reports, logbook pages, photographs, and other evidence of abuse disappear. “Issues of fear and intimidation are present throughout” the agency. said a report by the state auditor’s office released Friday. More than 40 percent of staffers at youth prisons said they were afraid of retaliation if they complained about co-workers or supervisors, a survey by auditor found. In one common form of payback, inmates say, guards instruct their favored juveniles to beat those who complain. Said one 16-year-old inmate who had filed grievances: “Next thing I know, I did not see the foot – I didn’t even see it because it came so fast – but I felt it. I heard like this loud boom inside of my head.”