Red-faced officials at the scandal-racked Texas Youth Commission canceled the release on parole of more than 150 teenage offenders after discovering that many had served little time on their sentences for violent crimes including murder, says the Austin American-Statesman. They announced a top-to-bottom review of their parole criteria. One youth on the list had been sentenced to 40 years in the knife slaying of a classmate, who was stabbed 15 times. He had served less than three before the agency recommended his release. Another, serving time for molesting six children, was recommended for release even though he had numerous write-ups in youth prisons for indecent exposure and for possessing a weapon. One was a sex offender who assaulted a Youth Commission employee about a year earlier.
Officials with the state’s adult parole system confirmed they received a new list of about 70 youths that had been approved for parole – many of them on the previous list that had been withdrawn. “Some of these crimes were horrendous. There’s no way these offenders should be on the street,” said House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden. He demanded all the cases be sent back to the Youth Commission for review, and officials there quickly complied. While Youth Commission policy requires a series of agency officials – from case managers and psychologists to superintendents of youth lockups to the agency’s top two leaders – to approve such paroles, Madden said it was not followed. The issue came to light after adult parole officials, who were to supervise the youths, most of them age 19, balked after reviewing the offenders’ files. They warned legislative leaders that many of the proposed releases could pose a threat to public safety.