Settlement Reached in TYC Case

From the AP via Houston Chronicle:

AUSTIN — A federal judge has approved a settlement between the Texas Youth Commission and the Justice Department over inmate safety at the state’s juvenile prison in Edinburg.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa signed the settlement Monday and it was announced by the TYC on Wednesday. Hinojosa had previously rejected a settlement on grounds it lacked a specific timeline for suggested reforms at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center, which federal prosecutors began probing in 2006 after numerous reports of abuse.

A Justice Department review released in 2007 described a “chaotic and dangerous” environment at Evins that violated inmates’ constitutional rights with its high levels of violence and too few guards to control the facility.

The settlement establishes parameters for safe living conditions to protect inmates from violence and staffing levels, restricts use of youth restraints and guards against retaliation for reporting abuse and misconduct. The Justice Department will also review the lockup every six months.

“If we are to have any success in rehabilitating youth,” said TYC Conservator Richard Nedelkoff, “we must first provide them a safe and responsive environment so they can concentrate o their treatment programs, instead of worrying about being in danger.”

Revelations of inmate abuse and possible cover-ups shook Texas’ juvenile corrections system last year and prompted state leaders to order a massive overhaul of the agency. Several top administrators were either fired or resigned.

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2 responses to “Settlement Reached in TYC Case

  1. The scary thing about the DOJ’s findings on the Evins facility is how much they resemble almost every other juvenile facility I’ve read about. I only have experience with Ohio’s juvenile facilities; replace the name, and the report could be about those facilities. Insufficient staff, inappropriate use of force, youth-on-youth violence…all too familiar.

    Not to disparage the good work of the DOJ and its ability to work magic in the system, but the problem seems more of culture than simple staffing. Youth are treated as criminals and not as youth. More staff can’t change that and you can’t sue your way to a change in thinking. But hopefully the DOJ provides the impetus to make that change…

  2. Oh I am so sick of hearing the Texas Youth Commission using the excuse of under staffing. If the State gave this worthless program an unlimited budget, they would still use the excuse of under staffing. Because that is what they use to cover up there incompetence.

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