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.

The 13-member board voted 7-6 to hire Griffiths, a veteran juvenile justice administrator, as executive director of the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice, agency spokesman Jim Hurley said. In recent months, the agency has been under intense scrutiny from lawmakers amid reports of increasing violence among youths at the state's six secure facilities. 

The agency's former leader, Cherie Townsend, retired in May as lawmakers grew increasingly disconcerted about continued reports of youths assaulting not only one another but also staff at the facilities. 

Jay Kimbrough, Gov. Rick Perry's go-to problem solver, has been leading the agency in the meantime, conducting surprise inspections at the facilities to determine what improvements need to be made to make youths and staffers safer.

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Hurley said an official offer has not yet been tendered to Griffiths, who was director of juvenile services in Dallas County from 1995 until 2010. Griffiths also served on the Texas Governor's State Juvenile Justice Task Force. The board voted on three candidates for the position, and Griffiths received the most support from the board members, Hurley said.


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