A year after a sex abuse scandal triggered an overhaul of the Texas Youth Commission, a civil rights group sued the agency, saying teenage girls have been abused at a Central Texas lockup, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The American Civil Liberties Union said five incarcerated girls – “all of whom have histories of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse” – were abused in the Brownwood State School with “unwarranted solitary confinement, routine strip searches and brutal physical force.” An ACLU attorney said that, “Throwing children into cold, bare solitary confinement cells is profoundly damaging, especially to children who previously have been abused.”
Jim Hurley, a spokesman for the commission, denied the allegations. He said the agency is making strides to improve conditions. Hurley said the ACLU had not notified the agency about problems before it filed the lawsuit. The Youth Commission’s ombudsman, Will Harrell, is the former executive director of the ACLU of Texas. In a statement, Harrell called the lawsuit “unfortunate,”, saying, “I never would have filed a lawsuit first and asked questions later.” The Brownwood lockup is a high-security unit that holds about 150 teenage girls serving time for a variety of offenses.