Texas juvenile prison changes questioned - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Texas juvenile prison changes questioned

Dallas_Nearly 10 months after reports of inmate abuse first surfaced, not everyone agrees with claims of progress in reforming the agency that oversees the Texas juvenile prison system.

State lawmakers ordered the Texas Youth Commission to revamp its programs and change its managers after the scandal broke. But since then, inmate abuse allegations have risen, staffing shortages persist and controversy remains over the continued use of pepper spray on juveniles.

Jon Halt, a member of a watchdog group and whose teenage son was sexually assaulted by another inmate in a juvenile prison, said the changes have been minute.

"They still treat kids like dirt," he told The Dallas Morning News for a story in Sunday's editions.

The commission's own assessment of its progress is more positive. "I'm going to say excellent," said Dimitria Pope, the commission's acting executive director.

News reports in February revealed that officials at a West Texas youth prison had been accused of sexually abusing inmates. The revelations that followed included reports of youth beatings, lax medical care and a culture of retaliation against whistle-blowers.

Legislation passed in May was supposed to address the problems and, to some extent, it did, according to one lawmaker.

"We probably don't have management raping kids now," said state Rep. Jerry Madden.

Madden, who sponsored the reform bill, cited other encouraging signs. Youths who commit misdemeanors are no longer sent to the commission and an independent ombudsman has hired staff. New guards are getting more training and a stronger internal investigations unit has pursued dozens of cases of employee misconduct.

"I'm beginning to have a little confidence that improvements are being made," he said. "But we need to see results."

However, Dr. Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, said he believes the state juvenile prison system is locked into an outmoded model based on punishment dealt from large, remote prisons.

"The way they're going, a correctional model, is a dead loser," he said. "That's not going to get them anyplace. It's never gotten anyone anyplace, except court."

Krisberg was part of a commission-appointed task force that produced a report that the agency rejected this year. The task force advocated a "home-like environment" for inmates, among other things.

David Springer, chairman of the advisory task force, said the agency seems better off in some respects, but worse in others. The commission may not be able to fix itself, he said.

"It's an uphill battle that I'm not sure can be climbed," he said.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Pentagon, border wall covered in $788B House spending bill

    Pentagon, border wall covered in $788B House spending bill

    Thursday, July 27 2017 12:48 PM EDT2017-07-27 16:48:59 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:19 GMT
    The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon. (Source: CNN)The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon. (Source: CNN)

    The GOP-controlled House is plowing ahead on legislation to give the Pentagon a massive spending boost and deliver a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico...

    The GOP-controlled House is plowing ahead on legislation to give the Pentagon a massive spending boost and deliver a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • GOP dealt stiff blow in Senate's bid to repeal 'Obamacare'

    GOP dealt stiff blow in Senate's bid to repeal 'Obamacare'

    Friday, July 28 2017 3:39 AM EDT2017-07-28 07:39:34 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:12 GMT

    The Senate has rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

    The Senate has rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

  • AP EXCLUSIVE: Sessions not leaving unless pushed

    AP EXCLUSIVE: Sessions not leaving unless pushed

    Thursday, July 27 2017 11:28 AM EDT2017-07-27 15:28:47 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:01 GMT
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will stay in the job for as long as President Donald Trump wants him to serve. (Source: CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will stay in the job for as long as President Donald Trump wants him to serve. (Source: CNN)

    Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that could attempt to insulate Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

    Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that could attempt to insulate Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

Powered by Frankly