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HomeNewsUnderstaffed, and under federal investigation, Texas juvenile detention system halts intake

Understaffed, and under federal investigation, Texas juvenile detention system halts intake

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Texas’ juvenile detention system has shut its doors and won’t accept any new kids because it is “hemorrhaging” staff, and officials fear they can’t ensure the safety of the nearly 600 youths already in their custody.

According to a Texas Juvenile Justice Department letter, released to The Texas Tribune on Wednesday, the state’s five youth lockups were implementing emergency protocols “as the staffing strength at each secure facility becomes more grim.”

“The current risk is that the ongoing secure facility staffing issue will lead to an inability to even provide basic supervision for youth locked in their rooms,” Shandra Carter, the agency’s interim director, wrote to juvenile probation leaders across the state last week. “This could cause a significantly impaired ability to intervene in the increasing suicidal behaviors already occurring by youth struggling with the isolative impact of operational room confinement.”

The agency has 331 vacant positions for juvenile corrections officers and only 391 officers available to cover its facilities, an agency spokesperson said Thursday.

Minors sentenced to serve sentences at a TJJD facility will remain at local detention facilities, many of which have their own shortage of beds. In her letter, Carter said 130 juveniles were waiting in county facilities before intake was halted.

Carter said the agency is trying to restart intake as soon as possible by shifting people to different units, stopping intensive intervention programs for those who have committed violent crimes and looking into whether any youths could be eligible for release.

Texas’ juvenile lockups have long been plagued by physical and sexual abuse and dangerous environments for youths detained there. In October, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating ​​whether the agency provides “reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation.”

Texas’ juvenile lockups have long been plagued by physical and sexual abuse and dangerous environments for youths detained there. In October, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating ​​whether the agency provides “reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation.”

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Sourabh Verma franklin
Sourabh Verma,From Franklin Tn - Sub-editor in Asian News International(ANI) I am a detailed-driven journalist with 3+ years of experience in news writing and copy-editing, I can file quick, compelling and error-free stories as they break. I have sound knowledge of national and international issues and have covered stories across beats, including politics, parliament, legal and crime like drugs and Human Trafficking at Asian News International (ANI), where I currently work. Some of these include extensive coverage of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, several state Assembly elections, Parliament sessions, COVID-19 pandemic and other stories of national importance. A typical working day involves copy-editing dozens of drafts, managing junior sub-editors in shifts and keeping an eye on developing stories. This added responsibility followed a couple of years of filing stories based on press briefings, bytes and inputs from reporters on the ground.
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