The second-in-command at the scandal-ridden Texas Youth Commission resigned under pressure yesterday, reports the Houston Chronicle. Dimitria Pope, acting executive director, tendered her resignation last night, hours after being told by her boss, Richard Nedelkoff, the agency’s newly appointed conservator, to quit or be fired. Rep. Sylvester Turner, chairman of a House subcommittee on criminal justice, said, “I would like to think the public is entitled to know what direction Nedelkoff intends to take [the agency]. Turner said the current problems started “cause of the lack of transparency and people operating behind closed doors. That is not what we want to return to.”
A source said Pope was not given a specific reason for the decision to sever her ties to the agency, other than: “New direction, new leadership.” Pope has been a lightning rod for controversy since her appointment last spring to an agency that was then being ripped apart by one of the worst abuse scandals to ever hit juvenile corrections. Clashing frequently with so-called reformers, she was criticized for increasing the use of pepper spray against unruly youth, ignoring reports that more youths were being kept in isolation as punishment for poor behavior and for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for hiring staff instead on office furniture and remodeling.