To Deputy Chief Larry Jones, the news that Taylor County trails in its pay for juvenile probation and detention personnel isn't shocking.
"We hire a lot of people — we have over 50 percent turnover in detention officers," said Jones, who now oversees fiscal services. "Part of what's reflected, I believe, is due to some lower salaries."
An analysis of salary data by the Reporter-News found that Taylor County paid its juvenile detention staff the least out of a comparison that included Midland, Wichita and Tom Green counties, while payment for juvenile probation personnel was last.Meanwhile, Calhoun County is closing a "boot camp" for juveniles because of a budget shortfall, reports the Victoria Advocate, but in this case that may be a good thing. Juvie boot camps were a fad in the '90s, but with the rise of evidence-based practices in juvenile justice settings, they've consistently been categorized among approaches that don't actually achieve measurable, positive results (pdf) and in many cases have resulted in physical abuse and even death (pdf). Budget cuts aren't always a bad thing because they force government to set priorities and make hard choices that wouldn't be politically palatable in economic good times. The opportunity to eliminate programming that may sound good to the tuff-on-crime crowd but fails to achieve promised results is a silver lining to the dark budget cloud hanging over Texas counties.
That's a problem, Jones said, because the county wants the best possible personnel to work with such children, who are often "abused, neglected and thrown away."