Former federal and state official Richard Nedelkoff has been named conservator of the troubled Texas Youth Commission, reports the Austin American-Statesman. He will have to moderate a high-stakes political debate over whether the state’s most serious youth offenders and delinquents can ever be properly dealt with in the current system of far-flung prisons. The system has been criticized as untenable by some criminal justice experts. Nedelkoff, who was appointed yesterday by Gov. Rick Perry, said, “There is the ideal world of having as many of these kids in communities as close as possible to where their families live, and there is the reality of the current facilities.”
Nedelkoff served as Perry’s first executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Division in 2001, a position he was appointed to in 1998 by Perry’s predecessor, George W. Bush. President Bush brought Nedelkoff to Washington to serve as director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the U.S. Department of Justice. Most recently, Nedelkoff was the chief executive officer for Eckard Youth Alternatives, a Clearwater, Fl.-based private nonprofit organization running residential programs for at-risk youth in 10 states. Nedelkoff intends to stay on with Eckard, dividing his time as necessary to do the job at the commission.