After months of debate and public criticism, Texas officials say they are moving forward with plans to reopen part of a mothballed lockup near Waco to hold the most incorrigible teenage offenders, reports the Austin American-Statesman. That puts Texas one step closer to opening its first separate cellblock-style lockup to house juvenile offenders, rather than softer, campuslike centers used for years.
Cherie Townsend, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, said the agency is developing plans for a 24-bed “secure intensive behavior intervention program.” Eight beds might open by the end of June, with the rest by Aug. 1, said a memo to legislators obtained by the American-Statesman. The memo says officials are developing a program “to serve the approximately 10 percent of commitments and recommitments who are responsible for the majority of assaultive behavior” in the agency’s lockups. State Sen. John Whitmire said the decision is long overdue: “They need a place to separate the worst of the worst, and they’ve been dragging their feet in doing that because they didn’t want to disrupt the school and programs for the youths who would go there.”