Texas’ youth prisons have long been in crisis. They’re under federal investigation for an alleged pattern of abuse and mistreatment and are dangerously understaffed. In 2021, the turnover rate for detention officers reached 70%, with most new hires gone within six months. Short-staffing has left children locked in their cells most of the day, sometimes without access to bathrooms. Youths are harming themselves and engaging in other dangerous behavior. The Texas Tribune is covering updates on the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and juvenile courts.
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. Full Story
The state of Texas has essentially controlled her son’s life since he was 11. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department was supposed to keep him safe and help him get better. It has failed at every turn. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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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.” Full Story