juvenile justice

ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of six states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.

House Bill 122, authored by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) and Gene Wu (D-Houston), passed the House last week and could be on its way to the Senate.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

About 15 middle- and high-school students sit in a row of seats in a dark courtroom on a Monday night at Austin Municipal Court. A few of the students are talking quietly, but most of them are silent. No one looks like they want to be here. They were caught out of school by a police officer, and now they’re at the court's juvenile curfew class.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Lunchtime is wrapping up at Austin High School, just west of downtown. As students walk back inside, Austin ISD Police Officer Chris Roddy walks out. He heads toward the MoPac highway underpass, where there are some trails. He patrols the area daily for kids who may be skipping school.

Hannah McBride/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Miguel Navarro is 5’ 3’’ and small-framed. When reporters Alain Stephens and Hannah McBride speak to him, he’s in handcuffs and ankle restraints. He’s nervous and sweaty. His brown eyes well up with tears when they ask him about that night.

Flickr/Rodriguez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A small school in North Texas will receive a donation of more than $3,500 for its football team. In a world of million-dollar sports deals, it may not sound like much. But for the Gainesville State Tornadoes – it's huge.

The school is a juvenile detention center and its donors are ex-convicts. It all started when a lawyer and activist Omid Ghaffari posted an ESPN article in a Reddit forum for ex-convicts about a high school football fans.

"The Grapevine Faith fans actually lined up for the Gainesville State players, cheering them on," he says. "And it was a nice story kind of about a community coming together for a group of boys who usually don't have any fans or anyone cheering them on."


Flickr/Uffdah!!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/uffdah777/

Juvenile offenders in Texas were placed in solitary confinement 36,820 times last year. That’s according to state records obtained by the civil rights group called the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. 

“There’s been a lot of research about it, and the consensus seems to be that it’s pretty harmful for kids, especially kids with traumatic experience, or a kid who has a mental health concern," said Benet Magnuson, a lawyer with the coalition. "That’s actually most of the kids that we are talking about."

KUT News

More than half of young people in Texas correctional facilities, 56 percent, have some diagnosed mental illness.

The latest figures were presented to lawmakers today. The mental illness rate compares with 39 percent in 2007.

Michael Griffiths, the new head of the state’s Juvenile Justice Department, says getting treatment for those youth is one of his top priorities.

KUT News

AFD Gets Money to Hire More Firefighters

The Austin Fire Department is getting more than $5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hire 36 firefighters.

The FEMA grant will help AFD staff four people on every engine – that’s the standard set by the National Fire Protection Agency.

The money will cover the salaries of the firefighters for the first two years. AFD will take over the cost in year three.

Austin Organization Charged With Providing Unlawful Services

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged an Austin group with providing unlawful immigration services and defrauding its clients.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Inmate Put to Death Using Single-Drug Concoction

The State of Texas executed Yokamon Hearn yesterday evening. He was put to death for the 1998 carjacking and murder of 23-year-old Frank Meziere in Dallas.

Hearn was the sixth prisoner executed in the state so far this year.

He was the first put to death using a single drug lethal injection procedure. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice switched to the single drug because of a shortage of the two other drugs normally used in lethal injections.

Photo courtesy of Sam Houston State University

Cherie Townsend, the executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, announced Tuesday that she will retire at the end of June after nearly four years leading the state's institutions for youth offenders.

In an email sent Tuesday morning to agency staff, Townsend wrote that in the last couple of months, as the agency has struggled to deal with reports of increasing violence and safety concerns at the state's youth lockups, her "values and principles related to best practices in juvenile justice" have detracted from "the mission and work of the agency."