No one likes the idea of kids behind bars. But that’s exactly where some of the most violent juvenile offenders in Texas may end up now that the state has decided to reopen part of a lockup near Mart. It will be reserved for the “worst of the worst,” according to officials.
The Statesman reports the opening “puts Texas one step closer to opening its first separate cellblock-style lockup to house juvenile offenders.” This is in contrast to what they call the “softer, campuslike” facilities.
The facility will have 24-bed and a “secure behavior intervention program.” Eight of the beds will be open by the end of this month, with the rest being prepared throughout the summer.
The Mart facility was one of several downsized last year when the number of youth incarcerations in the state fell from 4,000 to just over 1,100 in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal in 2007 and subsequent law changes. The state has since moved in the direction of community-based rehabilitation for the majority of juvenile offenders.
But the need for cell-block style incarceration facilities remain, according to officials. Those offenders who are especially violent, with a history of assaults while incarcerated, will be sent to the Mart facility.
Staff and administrators have been reporting to state officials that security issues abound at the current facilities.
From the Statesman:
A report on a disturbance at Giddings State School on May 26 says that six youths “began vandalizing and destroying the dorm” after they refused requests from the staff to go to bed. After breaking a mop handle and strewing trash throughout Dorm 9B, they broke mirrors and fire alarm lights and “threw books off the bookshelf,” the report states.
When security staffers arrived, the youths barricaded themselves in a kitchen storage closet that should have been locked but was open. Staffers tried several times unsuccessfully to force their way into the closet, using pepper spray three times to try to get the youths out.
Giddings has been plagued by violence since last fall, when a correctional officer was repeatedly stabbed by a pen-wielding youth. At least two significant disturbances have occurred since then, but assaults and gang activity have continued despite attempts by Austin officials to stem the violence.
A second report on Friday provided the first details about a “major disruption” Wednesday night at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg. Agency insiders had been warning for weeks that a disturbance fueled by gang rivalries was imminent.
According to the report, a fight involving 15 youths broke out between classes. “One youth assaulted another youth, and then every youth in the hall began to assault each other, the result of a gang-related issue,” the report states.
A facility resembling a prison is said to be one way to keep the assaultive juveniles and correctional staff safe.
When your child is faced with criminal charges, the last thing you want is to see them behind bars. The Texas juvenile justice system, however, is harsh, and can be complex and confusing if you’ve never been involved in it. If your child is charged with an offense and you need help, contact us today.