Texas Debates Whether To Close State Juvenile Lockups


Two years after a sexual abuse scandal hit the Texas Youth Commission, some state officials are questioning whether the youth lock-up system – which has seen a legislative overhaul, a revolving door of executives, and a costly restructuring – is worth saving, the Dallas Morning News reports. Advocates of a proposal to fold the commission into the juvenile probation system say they’ve given the current agency plenty of time to work out its kinks, but it continues to stumble. “We have one broken system that’s wasteful in spending, that’s top-heavy, and that houses juveniles in remote locations, far from home. And then we have juvenile probation, which seems to work,” said Sen. John Whitmire, who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

With just 2,200 youth offenders, the commission now oversees a tiny fraction of Texas’ juvenile criminals in its large, remote prisons. The question is whether it’s more cost-effective for Texas and better for juvenile offenders to serve them all at the local level – which the juvenile probation department already does. Despite many continuing problems, the agency has made big strides in complying with a sweeping reform bill – including installing new security cameras, improving staff-to-offender ratios, and increasing employee training.

Link: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/121608dntextyc.3fa3827.html

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