A key Texas legislator is threatening to call a hearing and seek leadership changes at the state Juvenile Justice Department after reports of youths fighting, climbing onto rooftops, running away from staff in large numbers and barricading themselves in at state juvenile correctional facilities, the Texas Tribune reports. Eight disturbances have been reported at four of the state's five juvenile correctional facilities in the last three months, culminating in late September with a two-hour incident at the Giddings State School. About 40 youths began fighting, breaking window panes and climbing onto rooftops in a morning disturbance said to have been planned by two rival gangs.
Giddings opened its doors Sept. 16 to former students for a reunion to extol the positive impact staff and programs had on their lives. A few days after the reunion, said Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Committee on Criminal Justice, youths “tore it up.” He said, “We have severely, emotionally disturbed students — all have been convicted of violent serious crimes and are felons, and we don't even have a psychiatrist to work with them, so I'm very alarmed. He said that if conditions don't improve, he will call for new leadership at the department.