The Cost of Jobs at TYC
A new argument has opened in the Lege over whether to keep TYC facilities open for economic reasons.
By Richard Whittaker,
11:36AM, Tue. Apr. 3, 2007
The Statesman is reporting today that there are moves in the Lege to slow down the closure of contentious and scandal-wracked Texas Youth Commission facilities, because doing so would hit the rural economy too hard.
Sens. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, and Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Reps. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, and Pete Gallego, D-Alpine (in whose district the Pyote facility that started the scandal lies), are trying to keep these remote facilities open under TYC or at least transferred to become adult prisons. Their stance goes against a common argument that the sheer remoteness of these facilities, and the difficulty of real oversight, was a key component in how the abuse was perpetuated and hidden. Many other legislators, including Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, and Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, have been pushing to build smaller, more modern, more manageable facilities nearer the urban centers from where the majority of young offenders come. This would make it easier for families to stay involved in rehabilitation and give greater access to off-site facilities, such as counselors.
Before the story ran, Shapleigh had a brutal rebuttal for the argument that closing or repurposing the facilities would be bad for the West Texas economy: "Great," he said. "Keep raping kids so we can keep our jobs."