As I've argued recently both on Grits and in "Surviving the TYC Meltdown," the simple math of legislative reforms, combined with changes to agency administrative code rules, means Texas counties inevitably must handle more kids who previously would have gone to TYC, and kids sent to youth prisons will return home much sooner than in the past. Dallas News editorialists are right so suggest that counties need to plan now for how to manage more such kids in their home jurisdictions.
As the governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force Report notes, Texas, unlike demographically similar California, chooses to incarcerate more younger offenders for less serious crimes but achieves no better youth crime rates. Punishment over community-based intervention only costs more.
Senate Bill 103, passed in the last Legislature, is a well-intentioned start toward reform, although mostly reactive to the mountain of problems. Yet it does have its forward-looking sections. One requires counties of 335,000 people or more – like Dallas and Tarrant – to implement more community-based programs and report to the governor and Legislature on their success.The TYC may never fix itself, but one thing the rest of us can do is send fewer of our kids into its care. Solve the problems closer to home for as many of them as possible."
It's what's going to happen, anyway. Why not prepare now?