A House bill filed this afternoon would abolish the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and create a new agency to oversee most of the state’s youth corrections programs.Here's a link to bill text and other information.
House Bill 1915 is the first merger bill filed this legislative session after such a move was recommended earlier by the Sunset Advisory Commission, as a way to streamline and improve juvenile justice in the state.
Supporters of the two agencies had earlier voiced hopes for a legislative compromise that could have allowed the two agencies to remain separate, although the filing appears to cast doubt on that plan, since the author and other House leaders have indicated they now support a merger.
Under the measure by House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, the two agencies would be merged into a new Juvenile Justice Department that would oversee programs from probation to incarceration.
I know a lot of folks have assumed that a "merger" would mean that TYC is essentially placed under the Juvenile Probation Commission, but this bill abolishes both governing structures and creates a completely new entity, new board, etc.. Of course, that could still be the net effect depending on who's appointed to the new board and Juvenile Justice Department leadership positions, but those may have been premature assumptions. The lengthy bill makes a lot of changes that I certainly haven't digested yet, and anyone interested in juvenile justice policy at any level will want to give it a read. If you do, be sure to let us know of any red flags you notice in the comments.