Youth Justice

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.

New Texas House priorities focus on brain health, juvenile justice reform

Texas Capitol. Image via Ali Linan, CNHI Texas statehouse reporter

Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, released three additional priority bills Tuesday. The new batch of bills dedicate more dollars toward brain health research, aim to improve the outcomes of youth in the state’s juvenile justice system, and address concerns among some Texas parents over content in public school libraries.

Read the rest of this article from CNHI News.

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.

Finish the 5: UT students work with local organization to advocate for abolition of last Texas youth prisons

Juvenile Prisons: Where and Who chart by Daily Texan

The Austin Liberation Youth Movement, a student-led organization that includes UT students, is advocating for the closure of the last five youth prisons in Texas through their Finish the 5 campaign. “We need a new system of accountability,” said Krupali Kumar, co-founder of the Austin Liberation Youth Movement. “If we’re looking at a lot of what these kids are in prison for, a lot of them are because of developmental behaviors. They need the right intervention. Prison is not an intervention — prison is a form of punishment.” 

He served 38 years for a crime he committed at 16. Now, he's finding his way in a changed Houston.

Demetrius stands outside in the city looking up at the sky [photo by Houston Chronicle]

For nearly 40 years, Demetrius Johnson would lie in bed and imagine what life would be like in the free world. In his mind’s eye, he’d watch himself finding a steady job, getting swept up in romance, marrying the woman of his dreams and raising children. The journeys were a solace and a joy, so much so that he tried to teach other inmates his technique.

Read the rest of this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Texas teens embark on an idealistic quest to shut down the state’s last five youth prisons

Members of the Finish the 5 Coalition march to the Texas Capitol. Photo by Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune

Brimming with adrenaline, determination and wide-eyed optimism, a group of teenagers gathered outside the state Capitol last week, ready to take their first steps into the underbelly of Texas politics. Most had been under the iconic Pink Dome only for school field trips.

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