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Gov. Greg Abbott replaces chairman of Texas Juvenile Justice Department board

Gov. Greg Abbott has replaced the board chairman of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The governor has played a key role in an agency shake-up amid a sexual abuse scandal and staffing shortages.

Gov. Abbott named Wes Ritchey, left, as the new chair of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department board, replacing Scott Fisher, who had held the position since 2011. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has replaced the chairman of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department's board.

Abbott, a Republican, announced Monday in a news release that he had named Wes Ritchey as the new chair, replacing Scott Fisher, who had held the position since 2011. It was seemingly the latest move in what state senators said last month was a needed “shake-up” of an agency plagued by staffing shortages and a sexual abuse scandal.

The governor appears to be playing a large role in recent changes at the department. Last month, a top employee from his office, Camille Cain, was selected as the agency’s new executive director. He announced last week in a letter to Cain that he would shuffle money to the department to help address its current crisis, and he has deployed Texas Rangers to youth lockups to investigate sexual abuse allegations.

Ritchey has served on the department’s board since January 2017 and is currently the chair of its Finance and Audit Committee. He is the county judge of Dallam County, at the north end of the Panhandle. He is a former juvenile probation officer.

Fisher’s term was not set to end until February 2019, according to the department’s website. He is a senior pastor of a church in Euless, a city in the Fort Worth area. He served as the board chairman since the department’s creation in 2011, and, before that, as chair of the Texas Youth Commission, which previously served as the state’s juvenile corrections agency.

Neither Ritchey nor Fisher immediately responded to requests for comment.

The juvenile justice department's board sets goals for the department and implements rules to govern the agency and its staff, according to the governor’s announcement. The board includes 13 members from around the state.

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