May 09, 2007
House approves TYC reform bill

Nice to see that at least some decent bills have made it through despite the neverending sideshows and distractions this session.

The Texas House unanimously passed an omnibus bill Tuesday that would radically reform the troubled Texas Youth Commission.

The bill, by Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, likely heads to a conference committee where lawmakers can iron out differences between the House version and one passed by the Senate last month.


Both bills call for enhanced training for guards, the creation of an independent inspector general's office and an ombudsman's office, and no more than 12 offenders per guard. It also reduces the overall juvenile population by not accepting misdemeanor offenders and offenders older than 18. Also, offenders younger than 14 would be housed separately from 18-year-olds.

The major difference between the two proposals centers on management.

The Senate bill calls for a single individual, an executive commissioner, to run TYC, with the help of an advisory commission. The House bill calls for the reinstatement of a board of directors, which would have oversight over an executive director.

That was the structure in place earlier this year, when news reports carried allegations that two administrators at the West Texas State School sexually abused youths in their care and that alerts to administrators at the school and in Austin were ignored or covered up.

Grits has more, including some well-deserved kudos for Rep. Jerry Madden and Isela Gutierrez of the Texas Coalition Advocating Justice for Juveniles, who was one of the first whistleblowers on the whole TYC scandal. I truly hope that we've finally done right by these kids.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2007 to The making of the President