There’s a shakeup going on at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department after a Dallas Morning News investigation revealed widespread allegations of different types of abuse. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this week he’s replacing the chief of the independent office that investigates safety complaints by youth in the department’s custody. The new person in the office, JD Robertson, is a retired Texas Ranger.

Meanwhile five former or current juvenile justice center employees were arrested Thursday for charges including excessive force and tampering with government records.

Lindsey Linder, the Youth Justice Policy Attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, says addressing these issues at the TJJD is long overdue.

“I’m encouraged to see the support from the Governor’s office and the support from the Legislature,” she says. “There really seems to be an energy right now to solve these issues once and for all, and to reshape the system to be more of a model system that’s really focused on the rehabilitation and growth of these youth.”

Linder praises the governor’s decision to send the Rangers in to investigate, which ultimately led to the arrests. But the decision to replace

“It was very surprising to us that the governor decided to replace her,” she says. “The former Texas Ranger who has been appointed to take her place certainly has a very decorated military career and we’re grateful for his service both to the country and to Texas, but I do think this new position is going to present him with some challenges in the sense that this position from my view is more of a social worker position. It’s more about building relationships with youth and getting them to feel comfortable talking to you about what they’re going through.”

Linder says she’s hopeful that he will rise to the challenge.

 

Written by Jen Rice.

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