Two legislative architects of Texas' sweeping reforms in juvenile justice after a sex-abuse scandal five years are fuming over a new report that questions security and safety at the Giddings State School.The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will hold a hearing to examine the report's findings in May. Added Ward, "Release of the report comes as the latest in a series of reported problems at the lockup — from last September, when a youth offender stabbed a female correctional officer, to management issues that have kept top Austin officials at Giddings for months to a recent survey of more than 100 youths at Giddings by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition who reported their highest concern was being assaulted by other youths."
The report includes allegations that youths are being "bought and owned" by other youths for cigarettes, illicit drugs and money at the lockup about 50 miles east of Austin.
The nine-page investigative report by Ombudsman Debbie Unruh that legislative leaders received on Tuesday lists an array of other issues: Youth ringleaders are "controlling the culture on this campus," staff have a lack of control over youths, youths have refused to leave security detention for fear of their safety, and bullying and extortion of food are common.
In the report, agency officials said they have identified five ringleaders, including one youth who was caught on a security camera stealing food from another youth. Random drug tests and dorm searches have been initiated to curb contraband trafficking, the report states.
UPDATE: Thanks to an attentive reader for identifying a link to the above-referenced Ombudsman's report (pdf), and a related article by Brandi Grissom at the Texas Tribune last week.