The West Texas State School in Pyote will likely downsize and focus on treatment. About 70 percent of the students in the juvenile prison have chemical dependency problems, officials said.
The Sunset Advisory Committee, a state agency created to eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government, had called last year for the Pyote facility to be closed, citing difficulty in keeping the prison staffed and saying the closing would save $9 million.
Jim Hurley, a TYC spokesman, said Thursday the school's focus would be as a "smaller, more intense treatment facility." He also said the facility will focus on youths from West Texas instead of throughout the state.
"It's the only facility in West Texas," he said for a story in Friday's editions of the Odessa American. "We need a presence out there."
He could not say how many students would be moved from Pyote or how many jobs might be cut.
The facility now houses 84 youths and has 144 employees, 81 of them juvenile corrections officer.
Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth said he liked the idea of focusing on West Texas youths but was disappointed in the planned cuts. He had wanted to see an expansion at the state school about 15 miles west of Monahans.
Cutbirth said one reason given for closing the facility was a lack of available labor.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Budget Board has revised projections from last fall for an increase in TYC's youth prison population. Now they're predicting their numbers will "flat-line," the Statesman's Mike Ward reports:
From a Legislative Budget Board report:
“The residential population is expected to bed much lower than the population in previous fiscal years . . . Based on 2008 intakes, it is assumed (the Texas Youth Commission) will receive 2,169 intakes per year for fiscal years 2009 through 2014.”
That’s down from 2,994 in 2007, and even more in the previous years.
The Youth Commission now holds roughly half of the youths that it did before a sweeping reform bill in 2007, in the aftermath of a scandal over sex-abuse and an official cover-up.