Cases of abuse and mistreatment have doubled at Texas’s 22 juvenile detention facilities and halfway houses in the last five years, the Associated Press reports. Advocates for juvenile offenders say the figures point to a detention system overwhelmed by emotionally disturbed offenders. The percentage of mentally ill juvenile offenders has incrdased from about one-quarter of detainees in 1995 to nearly half the system’s 5,200 residents.
State officials attribute the increase in abuse statistics to changes in the way allegations are classified. The two facilities with the highest numbers of abuse and mistreatment per student have the highest concentrations of mentally ill residents. “With emotionally disturbed youth, it is much more likely they will engage in the kinds of behavior that require a response from staff,” said a state official. “They are arguably the most difficult-to-manage youth in the state and have bombed out of the rest of the system.”
In 1998, the commission reported five confirmed cases per 100 students. Last year, that doubled to 10 per 100 students.