Tribpedia: Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Tribpedia

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) is responsible for overseeing all youth correctional facilities in the state of Texas. It suffered a major abuse scandal in 2007 from which it is still recovering.

Three percent of youth offenders referred to county juvenile probation departments each year are committed to TJJD institutions. A juvenile offense is committed when the offender is ...

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Vacant Juvenile Facility Costing $100,000 Monthly

An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.
An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.

Last year, lawmakers told the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to close a facility, and the agency drew up plans to shutter its Corsicana detention center. The mentally ill youth who lived there are gone now, but lawmakers are keeping it open at a cost of $100,000 a month, hoping to salvage the aging institution.

Michael Griffiths, the executive director of the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice
Michael Griffiths, the executive director of the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice

Interim Juvenile Justice Department Leader Named

UPDATED: The board of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department on Wednesday announced the selection of an interim executive director to succeed Mike Griffiths, who announced his resignation last month.

Archival image of the Corsicana youth detention facility.
Archival image of the Corsicana youth detention facility.

Closing Corsicana: Lessons from a Juvenile Lock-Up

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Since the Corsicana juvenile detention center was founded in 1887 as the Texas Orphan Asylum, the facility's history has followed national trends in juvenile justice issues. Abuses at Corsicana could be found in many other places across the country. But so could the positive stories.

An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.
An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.

Lawmaker Delays Leave Facility for Mentally Ill Youths in Limbo

Months after lawmakers cut millions of dollars in funding for the state juvenile justice department and ordered the closure of a detention facility, movement to shutter a Corsicana facility for mentally ill youths remains stalled as state leaders reconsider its demise.

Bruce Ballou, left, and Jose Luis Perez tutor a teenager participating in the alternative education program in Maverick County.
Bruce Ballou, left, and Jose Luis Perez tutor a teenager participating in the alternative education program in Maverick County.

Border Officers See Hope in Reduced Juvenile Offenders

In the Eagle Pass area, the number of juvenile felony cases referred to Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Bruce Ballou has fallen more than 40 percent since 2012. As marijuana harvest season in Mexico begins, Ballou hopes his staff's approach to rehabilitation will keep the same faces from showing up again. 

TribuneFest: Mental Health and Criminal Justice

At the Trib's August 19 symposium on mental health at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Brandi Grissom talked about the intersection of mental health and criminal justice with Michele Deitch, senior lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT-Austin, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Michael Griffiths, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and Kathryn Lewis, an attorney at Disability Rights Texas.

Despite the statewide decrease in staff-on-youth assaults at juvenile correctional facilities, the rate of youth-on-youth assaults has increased following the 2007 legislative reforms.
Despite the statewide decrease in staff-on-youth assaults at juvenile correctional facilities, the rate of youth-on-youth assaults has increased following the 2007 legislative reforms.

TJJD Weighs Closing Mental Health Unit, Halfway Houses

City leaders in Corsicana are worried about the potential economic and jobs losses that could come from closing a state juvenile detention center. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department is considering closing the Corsicana Residential Treatment Center and two halfway houses with some 117 juveniles.

Detainees line up to leave the outdoor recreation area at theTravis County Juvenile Detention Center in Austin, Texas, Monday, June 24, 2013.
Detainees line up to leave the outdoor recreation area at theTravis County Juvenile Detention Center in Austin, Texas, Monday, June 24, 2013.

Law Could Set Stage for Juvenile Justice Reforms

A new law allowing Travis County to commit juvenile offenders to local detention facilities instead of large state institutions could set the stage for the next steps in reforming Texas’ juvenile justice system. If other counties follow suit, the size and cost of the state juvenile justice system could change dramatically.

Report: More Funding Needed for Juvenile Mental Health

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has released a report calling for more funding for mental health in the juvenile justice system. It says girls are not given adequate counseling for past trauma. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department, however, takes issue with some of the report's conclusions.

An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.
An empty cell at a state a juvenile correctional facility.

Report: Local Youth Programs Need More Funds, Oversight

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County juvenile probation agencies are getting better results for less money than state lockups when it comes to troubled youths, according to a report released Wednesday by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. But the report says counties need more funding, particularly for mental health, and more oversight to ensure safe conditions. 

Michael Griffiths, the executive director of the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice
Michael Griffiths, the executive director of the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice

Michael Griffiths: The TT Interview

The incoming director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department on how his experience has prepared him for his new role, what he thinks about closing some rural correctional facilities and how he'll solve the problems that have long plagued the state's juvenile system.

State juvenile correctional facility in Mart, Texas, on Aug. 28, 2012
State juvenile correctional facility in Mart, Texas, on Aug. 28, 2012

Phoenix Program Aims to Transform Troubled Youths

For youths who are considered some of the most troubled in the juvenile justice system, the intensive Phoenix Program is a last chance to straighten their paths. Mess up here, and they're headed for prison. For the troubled juvenile system, the program may be the road to reducing violence.

Juvenile Justice Board Hires New Agency Leader

The Texas Juvenile Justice Board on Friday voted to hire Michael Griffiths to be the next leader of the youth justice agency as it struggles to improve security and safety at its juvenile correctional facilities.

Survey: Local Juvenile Programs Underfunded

Texas Weekly

Instead of continuing to spend millions on problem-plagued secure facilities operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, juvenile justice reform advocates say legislators should invest more in local probation departments.

Inspections Reveal Security Issues at Youth Facilities

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Last month, inspectors conducted surprise safety and security reviews at the state's juvenile facilities. The juvenile justice department's leader said he wanted to get a baseline understanding of operations so that he can see how to implement improvements. Among the findings: lax security procedures and problems with documentation.

State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.

House Departures Take a Bite Out of Criminal Justice

Texas Weekly

For years they’ve been the Butch and Sundance of Texas criminal justice policy. Republican state Rep. Jerry Madden and Democrat state Sen. John Whitmire have helped lead a sea change in the adult and juvenile prison systems. But the team is breaking up. Madden, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, is retiring after 10 terms.

Director of Troubled Youth Agency to Retire

After nearly fours years leading the state's juvenile justice agency, Cherie Townsend announced on Tuesday that she will retire next month, following reports of increasing violence at Texas' youth lockups. Townsend said in an email to staff that her "values and principles" were detracting from the agency's mission. 

Reports of Violence Spur Call for Change at Youth Jails

It's been five years since Texas lawmakers overhauled the juvenile justice system. Now, reports of youth violence and lacking mental health services at the state's juvenile lockups have one top state senator calling the situation at the facilities a crisis and advocates urging continued reforms. 

A detainee is removed from the school building after an outburst during class.
A detainee is removed from the school building after an outburst during class.

Report: Youths Wield Control at State's Largest Lockup

A report from the independent ombudsman's office raises concerns about a small group of youths who purchase control of weaker youths using drugs, cigarettes and money at the Giddings State School. Texas Juvenile Justice Department Administrators say the take the report seriously and taking action.