A leading civil liberties advocate has been named the first ombudsman of the Texas Youth Commission, after a sexual abuse scandal, says the New York Times. Will Harrell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas for the last seven years, will serve as the commission's acting independent watchdog until final passage of a bill making its way through the Texas legislature.
The board and top officials of the agency were ousted after disclosures in February that supervisors had ignored reports that two men who were administrators at one of the agency’s facilities had sexual contact with boys held there, and that rapes and beatings had gone unpunished at other facilities. Criminal investigations and arrests have since followed. Harrell, 40, will take a leave of absence from the civil liberties group. He has been involved in reforms at the youth commission, including serving on a board to review the sentences of the approximately 4,700 juveniles in custody.