New rules under consideration at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department would expand the authority of county juvenile probation agencies to use pepper spray on aggressive youth offenders in secure facilities, reports the Texas Tribune. County probation chiefs from across the state are asking the state to approve the new rules, saying they would provide more local control over how the facilities are operated.
Some advocates worry that more use of so-called chemical restraints could be a dangerous step backward in efforts to reform the state's juvenile justice system. “Whatever benefits they feel like they might get out of utilizing pepper spray are not big enough for all the dangers,” said Ana Yáñez-Correa of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Currently, the use of pepper spray at county juvenile facilities is permitted only in case of a riot. The proposed new rules would allow counties to use it when youths becomes physically aggressive and endanger themselves or others, but only if other forms of restraint won't work.