When TYC ombudsman Will Harrell wrote up a confidential report on the Victory Field Correctional Academy, a juvenile prison located in the North Texas town of Vernon, he described it as “structurally suffering, dangerous and unclean.” According to the AP, “Harrell’s report described ‘huge blind spots’ in the security camera system, including an area that inmates said they had used for sexual acts, fights and tattooing. Other problems were a lack of access from the facility’s phones to the TYC hot line for students to report abuse, and youth complaints of staff retaliation when they file grievances.” The facility, Harrell noted in the September report, was “the least adequate” of any he’d seen during his short stint on the job.
Harrell shared his findings yesterday during testimony before the Texas House Corrections Committee, which met in an all-days session to continue discussions about reforming the troubled TYC. Comparing conditions at Victory Field to those at the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, which was closed three weeks ago, he gave a similar prognosis and said that if it were his decision to make, he’d close Victory Field as well–immediately.
“If those conditions exist, this facility certainly needs to be looked at–and held to the same standards that they used in Coke County,” State Representative Drew Darby, said, according to the Austin American Statesman. “These problems appear to be the same types of things.”