Stung by the discovery that an escape occurred after a guard failed to report a hole in a perimeter fence, top officials at Texas’ troubled juvenile justice agency conducted a surprise security audit at all six state-run lockups to thwart other problems, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Juvenile Justice Department officials said the sweep was partly a response to investigators’ findings in a July 14 breakout of three youths.
“We’re checking everything about security — whether surveillance cameras are working and being monitored, checking security logs, batteries for radios,” said spokesman Jim Hurley. Yesterday’s surprise security audit is the latest in a series of steps the agency has taken in recent months to quell violence and gang activity in the lockups. In April, an internal report detailed how fights and gang activity had continued unchecked for months at the Giddings State School, as agency officials debated how to curb the continuing violence. Gov. Rick Perry assigned top aide and confidant Jay Kimbrough to beef up security at the youth lockups. Kimbrough took over as interim director this month after the executive director, Cherie Townsend, retired.