A bill to merge Texas' two state juvenile justice agencies is headed to the governor for a signature.
The bill by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would consolidate the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, which manage the state's youth offenders, into a new state agency, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Whitmire and state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, worked together on the bill, which is estimated to save up to $150 million over the next biennium.
The new agency will have an 11-member board appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
The Senate passed the bill in mid-April, and the lower chamber, which took up the Senate's version, passed the bill a couple of weeks later with 15 adopted amendments. Today, Whitmire accepted all of the House's amendments on the Senate floor, and senators unanimously agreed to his motion, sending the measure to Perry.
SB 653 also expands community-based programs as an alternative to large, state-run facilities for youth offenders, and is likely to close up to three TYC facilities. It would also direct the State Board of Education to grant charters to the facilities.