Conditions of Confinement

Bill would close youth prisons in Texas

Entry sign of Gainsville State School, one of Texas' remaining youth prisons. Photo via Paul Flahive / TPR

A bill filed Thursday would abolish the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and shutter the state's remaining five secure youth prisons by 2030. Representative James Talarico, flanked by advocates and formerly imprisoned youth, announced the push to close the agency because of the cycles of violence and abuse within its facilities.

Read the rest of this story from Texas Public Radio.

Lawmakers offer stark choices for ending the crisis in Texas’ youth prisons — shut them all down, or build more

State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, speaks at a press conference at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to support his bill to close juvenile prisons. Credit: Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune

Long entrenched in a continuous string of scandals over child abuse and mistreatment, Texas’ youth prison system is broken beyond repair and should be shut down, according to a state lawmaker. In a dramatic proposal Thursday, state Rep. James Talarico announced legislation asking his colleagues to close the state’s five juvenile prisons and dismantle the agency that runs them by 2030.

Why Do People Keep Dying in the Harris County Jail?

Incarcerated people are seen in step-down area of the mental heath unit at the Harris County jail. Image via ERIC GAY/AP PHOTO

Like all teenagers, Fred Harris longed for freedom. At 18, he was small: 5 feet tall, 98 pounds. He also acted much younger than his age, which meant other kids bullied him. His mother, Dallas Garcia, told The Appeal and Type Investigations, “[He] didn’t understand, like, just extremely how different he was.”

Read the rest of this story from The Appeal/Type Investigations.

Former prisoners rally against solitary confinement at Texas Capitol

Poster protesting solitary confinement being held by protestor

Marci Marie Simmons says one hug threw her into more than a month without human contact. Consoling a crying inmate violated a policy against touching other inmates, she claimed, and solitary confinement was the punishment.

Read the rest of this story from KXAN.

With Budget Surplus, Texas Lawmakers Will Consider Investments in Child Welfare

Texas state Capitol, via Houston Public Media

Buoyed by a hefty boost in revenue at the launch of this year’s legislative session, Texas lawmakers will consider a slew of budget and policy decisions aimed at improving the state’s troubled foster care and juvenile justice systems. According to the state comptroller, Texas has more than $188 billion in general revenue for the fiscal year 2024-25 — a 26% increase from the last budget cycle.

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