Close TYC? That’s the gist of a plan that’s being discussed by state legislators, who hope to write it up and present it this summer. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, State Senator John Whitmire is stepping out as unofficial spokesman for the plan, which would call for a total makeover of the state’s troubled juvenile justice system. Whitmire says the idea is drawing wide support from judges and county and local officials across the state.
“Based on very broad-based support we’ve received on this, I don’t see us reorganizing the existing TYC. It will go out of existence, replaced by a new entity called the Youth Services Commission or something like that,” Whitmire said. “I think we need a clean start. The TYC name has a bad reputation at this point.”
Changing the name is a smart first step, but a broken system by any other name would still encourage waste and abuse. Ideas about more substantive restructuring are still tentative at this point. The paper notes that the new system “might piggyback some programs with the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, which funds county-based treatment programs for youths on probation. And it would not include any unfunded mandates for counties, according to several people involved in the ongoing talks at the Capitol…. It would allow lower-level, nonviolent offenders to be housed in community-based treatment programs rather than being sent to remote state-run lockups as they are now. Those lockups would either be closed or given a new mission, [Whitmire] said.”