"We are pleased that both houses of the Texas Legislature have taken decisive action to reform a wayward agency that, in many instances, worsened rather than improved the state of the youth in its custody.
"Key reforms in this bill include an inspector general and ombudsman to provide independent oversight, ensuring that future abuses at TYC are either avoided or rapidly detected and redressed. SB 103 also specifies that misdemeanant offenders, such as youths convicted of graffiti and alcohol possession, will no longer be sent to TYC. These youths will instead be punished and rehabilitated through community-based residential and day treatment programs that are more effective, save money compared to a TYC placement, and help preserve the family unit.
"Another vital reform in this bill that we have advocated is independent judicial review of the extension of a youth's minimum sentence at TYC to ensure that the youth still needs to be incarcerated. One of the factors that contributed to some of the sexual abuse cases is that the superintendents at each facility could use, as leverage against the youths, their unbridled authority to extend their placement if they resisted or reported abuse.
"We commend the legislative leadership and Governor Rick Perry for making TYC reform a priority during this legislative session. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on the successful implementation of this bill."
– 30 –