A woman who once oversaw the youthful offenders program at a Texas prison in Brazoria alleges that “a culture of cover up” exists at the state’s Department of Criminal Justice, or TDCJ. The would-be whistleblower told Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News that Texas teens who are placed in the program are in danger, because of a cycle of abuse. The concerns detailed by former program supervisor Dominique Mitchell have been ignored and reporting of incidents discouraged, according to Mitchell.
McGaughy says Mitchell supervised a small program for teen inmates, which was housed in an adult prison. The young people have now been moved to a different prison.
“It’s kind of unique,” McGaughy says. “In Texas, you can be as young as 14 and a judge can certify you as an adult, and you can go to adult prison, depending on your crime.”
McGaughy says the teen inmates were moved after an incident in which one of them was found engaging in a sex act with an adult prisoner.
Mitchell charges that staff members in the prison where she worked, and in TDCJ generally, were discouraged from reporting fights, riots, or other incidents of violence among inmates.
“If they did report it, she claims, they were punished. You were seen as not being loyal to the program, or not being loyal to your boss, or the warden,” McGaughy says.
Mitchell spoke up, McGaughy says, and left TDCJ rather than accepting a demotion.
The TDCJ responded to McGaughy’s reporting with a statement denying that systemic problems with the teen prisoner program exist.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.