To that end, helpfully, past Grits guest blogger Isela Gutierrez of the Texas Coalition Advocating for Justice for Juveniles (TCAJJ) checks in with the latest in the juvenile justice front at the Lege. I don't folllow juvie stuff closely so I'll give you her version. Isela writes via email:
Great news on the legislative reform front! Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D) from District 20 (which includes Corpus Christi and McAllen) in South Texas has pre-filed SB 103, an exciting and important reform package for TYC.
As currently written, the bill would:
- Create of an Inspector General office in TYC parallel to that in TDCJ, which means investigators are peace officers with criminal justice investigation experience and background, the Inspector General reports directly to the board, and investigates incidents of employee fraud as well as allegations of criminal activities, such as abuse and neglect.
- Provide additional state funding to local prosecutors (for expert witnesses, inquests, translators, etc.) to prosecute crimes that occur in TYC facilities.
- Requires that Texas Rangers randomly inspect one TYC facility/month and reports the findings to the Sunset Commission. This provision would expire in September 2009, the same month as TYC as an agency is set to sunset (meaning the state legislature has to vote to renew the agency's charter).
- Requires 300 hours of training for TYC offices before putting them in the field.
- Prohibits TYC from housing youth under 15 years of age with youth older than 17 years of age in the same dorm.View the entire text of the filed bill.
UPDATE: More from the Brownsville Herald.