Brandi attributed some recent problems to budget cuts and rising inmate numbers:
As the agency's population and facilities shrunk, so did the budget that lawmakers approved. But the population has begun to increase, and on Thursday the agency reported that it is housing 15.5 percent more youths than it has the budget to serve. Unruh said three of the five secure state facilities are short-staffed.Grits is surprised to hear this because I was under the impression Sen. John Whitmire passed legislation last year aimed at shifting more juvenile offenders into community supervision, though the final version was much neutered from what he originally proposed. Still, this news runs counter to expectations set during the 2015 Lege session that more troubled youth would be supervised in the community. Instead, we're sending more to state youth prisons.
The agency says solving these problems will require a big investment:
While lawmakers told the agency to cut nearly $17 million from its budget for the 2018-19 biennium, the agency has said it needs nearly $170 million more than it is allotted to keep up with the growing population and meet federal rape prevention requirements, among other needs.Decarceration of juvenile prisons in Texas has been a major success story of the last decade, and this news doesn't mitigate that. A 15 percent increase following a 80 percent reduction still amounts to perhaps 150 kids, so that doesn't explain a $170 million budget request, much of which likely stems from facility upgrades and other changes to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.
RELATED: From the Dallas News editorial board.