Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has instructed the Texas Rangers to look into allegations of illegal behavior by staff at the state’s Juvenile Justice Department.
The story: The Texas governor sent a letter to the Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday, telling DPS Director Colonel Steven C. McCraw to have the Texas Rangers open an investigation and pen a report based on their findings.
Abbott cited reports from the Office of the Inspector General for TJJD and TJJD’s Independent Ombudsmen of potentially illegal behavior from certain staff members at the Juvenile Justice Department.
“I am directing you to have the Texas Rangers immediately investigate the allegations and provide me with a report so that appropriate remedial action can be taken. I expect full cooperation by TJD leadership and staff with any assistance deemed necessary to accomplish a thorough investigation,” Abbot wrote.
You can read the full letter here.
TJJD’s response: Camille Cain, the executive director of the Juvenile Justice Department, said the agency had already begun probing the allegations and thanked the Texas Rangers for assisting with the investigation.
“Prior to today’s announcement, our agency had already begun a review of cases going back to 2017 regardless of the investigative outcome, in an effort to ensure that we are as vigilant as possible in identifying potential illegal conduct and isolating any patterns of behavior that could help remove staff members before they can prey on the youth in our care,” Cain said in a statement.
“In addition, we continue to work to implement our Texas Model Plan for Reform, which focuses on these critical issues and served as the basis for our Legislative Appropriations Request for the 2021 session,” she said.
Cain also said TJJD will cooperate “in an effort to ensure that our facilities are as safe as possible for our youth and that any criminal behavior is identified and punished appropriately.”
Further details on the allegations were not released. KXAN-TV pointed to a complaint filed with the Justice Department that claimed 14% of young people at the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood have said that staff coerced them or forced them into sexual activity. More than 16% of those at Gainesville State School reported abuse.
Meanwhile, a youth development coach at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg, Todd Hanks, was for allegedly engaging in improper sexual activity with a person and indecency with a child.
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