Instead of a merger, the bill eliminated language from the House version of the bill creating an 18-member "Juvenile Justice Policy Coordinating Council. and left the two agencies freestanding. (Ed. note: Corrected to fix an error in the original post stating that they'd kept the advisory body).
Both agencies must undergo the Sunset process again during the next biennium instead of waiting the usual 12 years. This will hopefully be a more productive exercise than the last go-round, when TYC was in the midst of radical transition while the Sunset review was conducted. Indeed, the acting executive director and conservator who helped Sunset staff compile their initial report weren't around by the time the Lege got back into town. Maybe things will go more smoothly when legislators and Sunset staff can work in the interim with the agency's permanent leadership. Otherwise, the bill:
- Requires TYC to keep committing courts informed about youths' progress while they're incarcerated, to create a comprehensive reentry plan for youth upon release, and to provide committing courts a copy of the reentry plan and tell them about youths' behavior inside the facility before they're finally released back into the free world.
- Requires the Office of Independent Ombudsman to accept pre- and post-publication comments from TYC before issuing any reports, though it's not obligated to alter the report in response.
- Requires creation of a coordinated strategic plan including "development of common data sources and data sharing" among an alphabet soup of state agencies: TYC, TJPC, TEA, DSHS, DFPS, and HHSC.
- Requires TJPC to publish a "Quarterly Report on Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation" at county juvenile lockups and private facilities under the agency's regulatory jurisdiction.
- Allows TJPC to contract with local MHMR authorities for mental health residential treatment services.
- Establishes a community correction pilot grant program (discussed previously on Grits) aimed at funding diversion programs to keep youth out of TYC. TJPC must develop rules governing the program.
- Allows offenses committed at TYC facilities to be prosecuted in any county where an element of the crime occurs or in Travis County - that's a significant change.
- Mandates that TYC will create a "reading and behavior plan" for special ed students and requires 60 minutes per day individualized reading instruction for youth identified with reading deficits.
- Requires a memorandum of understanding between TYC, TJPC, DPS, DSHS, DFPS, TEA and the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical and Mental Impairments to ensure "continutity of care" for youth offenders with mental health needs.
Ed. note: Because of trollish misbehavior in past TYC comment strings, I'll be shutting this one down after 30 comments, and will do so immediately before that if anonymous commenters begin attacking fellow employees by name or discussing topics outside the scope of this post - including this blog's comment policies. That discussion is officially over. N.b.: If said misbehavior continues, I'll be eliminating comments on TYC strings altogether going forward. Thx. The Management.