Protect Kids: Shutter Dangerous Youth Prisons!
Youth in Texas juvenile prisons continue to face physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their captors, according to harrowing reports from the Dallas Morning News. It’s time to finish a job begun in 2007 and close down Texas’ five large juvenile detention facilities.
When sex scandals rocked the juvenile justice system ten years ago, the Legislature shuttered seven of our state’s 12 juvie facilities sent youth onto probation or to smaller, home-like settings closer to urban areas. The result: Both recidivism and juvenile crime plummeted along with Texas' youth prison population, which dropped from around 5,000 to fewer than 1,500 juvenile offenders.
But in the last year, once again youth in Texas juvenile facilities have fallen prey to sexual predators. Four former staff members are facing jail time for sexual misconduct at the Gainesville State School, and their acts against youth are egregious.
A blue-ribbon panel that was put together after the 2007 debacle provided a blueprint for pivoting away from large, unwieldy facilities where sexual misconduct and other issues like gang activity and staff assault are prolific. Texas started down the path, but stopped. Now it's time to finish the job.
If you agree, send a message to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asking them to stop warehousing youth in large facilities and keep them protected in smaller, safer, more rehabilitation-oriented environments.