TX County Experiments On Handling Its Worst Juvenile Offenders


Travis County, Tx., juvenile justice officials have decided that they can do a better job than the state in dealing with the most troubled local offenders, considering Texas' history of scandal and violence in youth lockups, reports the Texas Tribune. “We will no longer commit kids to the state,” said Jeanne Meurer, a county judge. “We will take care of all of our kids.” This year, legislators approved a law to allow the county in Texas’ capital to commit juvenile offenders to local detention facilities instead of sending them to large institutions operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. If the model is successful, it could set the stage for the next steps in reforming the juvenile justice system — sharply reducing the size of the agency and the number of detention centers. “Travis County's experience doing this will tell us what's possible,” said Michele Deitch, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and an expert on jail conditions.

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