In a seven-part series, “Billy’s World,” the Austin American-Statesman writes about the challenges facing Billy Byers, who was released on parole after serving 15 months in a facility maintained by the Texas Youth Commission. Billy’s mother says he began stealing at an age when many kids are learning to read.”That was when he figured out bad attention was better than none at all,” Ruth Evans says. As a teenager, he was charged with assault, theft, unauthorized burning, speeding, and countless curfew violations.
When judges placed him on juvenile probation, as they did more times than he can remember, he ignored his curfews. When he was sentenced to wear a Global Positioning System tracker on his leg, he cut it off. In a system often seen as being quick to punish, he was given countless chances to straighten up. “He’s had all sorts of programs – drug prevention, community service, anger management, intensive home supervision, where the probation officer dropped by unannounced,” Ruth, 47, says. “You name it – he’s done it.”