Child and civil rights advocates are urging Texas lawmakers to close the state’s juvenile prisons.
The state has five remaining juvenile lockups, and according to a new report in The Texas Observer, these facilities may be doing more harm than good. The prisons house young inmates who have committed serious or violent offenses. Budget cuts have resulted in staff shortages at these facilities, and that means the juvenile offenders aren’t receiving the attention they need.
Many of the prisons’ residents complain that they don’t see their case managers often enough. There have also been rampant complaints of extortion, harassment and assault.
Debbie Unruh is the ombudsman for the Texas Juvenile Justice System. She acknowledged a lack of focus on rehabilitation at the youth lockups. “Whatever happens next, the focus has got to be more therapeutic,” she said.