Agency officials have been ordered into a Travis County District Court Monday morning to explain why they have not complied with an October court settlement in which they agreed to limit the use of pepper spray in juvenile lockups.The agency has re-submitted the disputed pepper spray policy through the Texas Register process, and is currently in the process of accepting public comments. But as Grits has described before, ignoring the advice of experts, Pope, Humphrey and Co. have bypassed that process twice - both when they originally instituted the policy Aug. 2, and then in defiance of the agreed court order immediately after it was handed down. That's why the court has intervened.
Under the settlement, Dimitria Pope, the Youth Commission's acting executive director, agreed to rescind her Aug. 2 directive allowing guards to use pepper spray more frequently before they try to physically restrain youths.
Attorneys for Texas Appleseed and Advocacy Inc. had sued the Youth Commission to block the expanded pepper-spray use, arguing the change violated state law. Then, two weeks ago, they asked a judge to force the Youth Commission to comply with the settlement — which it quickly promised it would.
It didn't, advocates say.
Each of the plaintiffs has a mental illness or serious emotional disability, and one suffered skin burns after being pepper sprayed three times to prevent him from harming himself, Texas Appleseed board Chairman Jim George said.
This is really turning into quite a soap opera. Indeed, in asking the obvious questions I feel like I'm writing promo script for Days of Our Lives: What do you think will happen on Monday? Who will Humphrey and Co. try to scapegoat, and will they succeed? What do TYC'ers think will happen to "Bronco" Billy (or "The Humpster," as a number of commenters hilariously call him)? And in the bigger picture, will the Governor appoint a new conservator anytime soon, and with new scandals arising every week, will Dimitria Pope and the TDCJ transplants running the agency make it through the end of the year without being replaced?
Stay tuned to find out, or leave your predictions in the comments.