If you are a young person charged with a serious crime in Texas, you will be facing some serious scenarios. While 17-year-olds are treated as adult offenders in the state, Texas juvenile lockups are also under fire following sexual assault allegations.
In the wake of a conviction and numerous arrests linked to recent sexual misconduct cases at a Texas lockup for minors, campaigners are calling for the state’s leadership to shut down all state-run secure facilities for youths.
The Texas Tribune detailed a letter sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus requesting they set up a joint legislative committee to look into the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The juvenile justice campaigners are calling for the closing down of the state’s five juvenile lockups.
The letter followed the publication of a memo obtained by The Dallas Morning News that highlighted allegations of sexual misconduct at the Gainesville State School.
Texas juvenile lockups have been hit by a series of scandals in recent years.
The most recent one relates to the conviction of guard Samuel Wright, and the arrests of three women at the Gainesville facility.
The lockup is in a rural area more than 70 miles north of Dallas. Wright was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July 2017 for improper sexual activity with a youth being held at the facility, according to the memo. The women were arrested in 2017 on claims they were having sexual relationships with committed minors.
A grand jury declined to indict a fourth female guard on the same charges. The memo also referred to a case in 2016. It noted the lockup suspended a psychologist who emailed pornography to his work computer to encourage a minor to masturbate in front of him.
The Texas juvenile justice system has been hit by allegations of misconduct over a long period of time.
The letter was cosigned by the directors of Texas Appleseed, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texans Care for Children, the and the American Civil Liberties Union.
It called for the closure of juvenile lockups, stating:
“Texas taxpayers are currently footing the bill for a costly, defective model that does not promote public safety and is inhumane. There is only one solution: the remaining state secure facilities must be closed.”
If you are charged with a crime as a juvenile, it’s important to do everything possible to stay out of incarceration. An experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer can vigorously fight your case. Call us at (512) 474-4445.