“A way to throw kids away”: Texas’ troubled juvenile justice department is sending more children to adult prisons
Moving the most violent and troubled youths to adult prison makes it easier to help others in juvenile facilities, some prosecutors and lawmakers say. Youth justice advocates say Texas is giving up on the children who most need help.
Texas Senate votes to close employment loophole after Refuge foster care scandal
The upper chamber unanimously passed Senate Bill 182 after The Texas Tribune reported that a state-licensed foster care facility hired a caretaker whom the Texas Juvenile Justice Department previously fired for having inappropriate relationships with children.
Lawmakers decry collapsing Texas juvenile prison system, ask Abbott to call special session
Without a jolt of funding, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department will struggle to hire workers and regain control over the safety and treatment of almost 600 incarcerated youth, its acting director told lawmakers at a hearing.
Almost 600 Texas youths are trapped in a juvenile prison system on the brink of collapse
The agency is so understaffed that teens have reported spending up to 23 hours locked in their cells, using water bottles to go to the bathroom. A staggering number have hurt themselves or been placed on suicide watch.
Understaffed, and under federal investigation, Texas juvenile detention system halts intake
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department doesn’t have enough staff to keep minors safe or deal with increasing suicidal behavior, its interim head says. Gov. Greg Abbott recently shifted millions of dollars from the long-troubled agency to his controversial border security mission.
U.S. Department of Justice investigating abuse, mistreatment at Texas’ juvenile lockups
The department says it’s looking into whether the Texas Juvenile Justice Department provides “reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation.”
“They are hurting them”: Advocacy groups ask feds to investigate sexual assaults, gang violence in Texas youth lockups
Children in Texas’ youth lockups are suffering from widespread sexual assault and other constitutional violations, reform advocates wrote Wednesday in a complaint urging a federal investigation into the state’s five youth lockups. “The state facilities are not just failing the youth in them, they are hurting them,” said Brett Merfish, director of youth justice at Texas Appleseed. As TJJD has encouraged more reliance on county facilities and reduced the number of state youth lockups from 12 in 2007 to five today, there has been a sustained drop in juveniles detained in state lockups. “Mental health is key to youth rehabilitation,” said Beth Mitchell, a top attorney at Disability Rights Texas. The plan requests more funding for county facilities and proposes more state facilities closer to urban centers to address staffing shortfalls.
After 17 youths test positive for the coronavirus, Texas juvenile lockups to begin mass testing
TJJD/Bob DaemmrichAfter 17 young people tested positive for the coronavirus inside Texas state-run juvenile lockups, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department said Wednesday it will test all detainees and staff. Only two employees tested positive in April and May, according to agency news releases. But last month, 28 more employees and the 17 detainees also tested positive for the virus at four of the states juvenile lockups. The youth were all being treated at the lockups, TJJD said in a Tuesday news release. Sean Wilson, 43, worked at the Giddings State School and died on June 28 after testing positive for the virus the week before.
Juvenile Justice Dept. staff member at Giddings State School dies week after COVID-19 diagnosis
AUSTIN A staff member at the Texas Juvenile Justice Departments Giddings State School has died less than a week after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to TJJD officials. Sean Wilson died June 28 in his home, officials said. He had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on June 22. TTJD officials said Wilson, who was a youth development coach, was a dedicated staff member... who cared deeply for the youth he worked with.Wilson had been employed by the State of Texas for 14 years and had been with TJJD since 2014. We are devastated by their loss and mourn with them during this time, said Camille Cain, executive director of TJJD.