The state and federal governments are set to head back to the negotiating table, after a federal judge refused Monday to accept a settlement agreement over civil rights abuses at the Evins juvenile detention center.I'm sure administrators at TYC think this amounts to one more additional headache, but it sounds like the judge's main concern is putting extra teeth in the Agreed Order. That can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned. See also coverage from AP.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa urged both parties to come up with a specific timeline for suggested reforms and criteria for evaluating the youth prison's progress.
"This is a discussion between the federal government and the state government with this court in the middle," Hinojosa said. And the court "is the lease equipped to manage a prison system."
The U.S. Department of Justice sued Evins and the state after an investigation revealed employees failed to protect inmates from staff abuse and youth-on-youth violence.
The Justice Department and the Texas Youth Commission - the state agency charged with overseeing Evins - reached a tentative agreement to the lawsuit in February.
In the proposed settlement, TYC officials agreed to provide youth inmates with safe living conditions and ensure they were protected from violence.
The commission also consented to other stipulations requiring that agency staff only use restraint to maintain security, provide adequate staffing levels and develop procedures to allow employees and inmates to report abuse without fear of retaliation.
But while the parties agreed to give a federal judge oversight of reform efforts for the next three years, on Monday Hinojosa said the proposed settlement did not adequately address what would happen should the Justice Department's demands go unmet.
He urged both parties to either settle their dispute outside of his purview or return to the court next month with a more detailed plan.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Federal judge rejects TYC settlement on Evins unit in South Texas
The settlement agreement proposed between the Texas Youth Commission and the US Department of Justice didn't pass muster with the federal judge in charge of the case, reports the McAllen Monitor ("Judge refuses to accept settlement in Evins youth prison's civil rights case," March 18):