Citing unsafe conditions, the Texas Youth Commission abruptly closed a privately run lockup in West Texas yesterday and ordered nearly 200 offenders transferred to state-run centers, reports the Austin American-Statesman. An agency spokesman said the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte, operated by Geo Corp., “was in an advanced state of disrepair, that programming and rehabilitation efforts were not being pursued, and the overall health and safety of the youth housed there were in jeopardy.”
The troubled agency last week abandoned a controversial two-month-old policy that expanded the use of pepper spray in youth lockups and decided to retain custody of more than 100 19- and 20-year-old offenders it had earlier moved to place on adult parole. The problems in Bronte surfaced a week earlier, when a top Youth Commission official “arrived at the Geo center and discovered unsanitary conditions throughout the facility,” said the commission spokesman. Geo has operated the facility north of San Angelo since 2003, when it was acquired from Wackenhut Corp.