A Statewide Crisis in Texas’s Juvenile Justice System

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department Is In Chaos

Former Texas juvenile correctional officer allegedly slammed teen on floor, caused concussion

By FOX 26 Digital 

An arrest warrant was issued for a former juvenile correctional officer who allegedly assaulted an inmate.

Turning the Tide on Juvenile THC Vaping Arrests in Texas

By Claudia Silva, The 74

The number of juveniles facing criminal charges for possession of THC concentrates – a felony in Texas – has skyrocketed in recent months.

A mother watches helplessly as her teenage boy deteriorates in a Texas youth prison

By Lisa Armstrong, The Texas Tribune
August 3, 2022

The state of Texas has essentially controlled her son’s life since he was 11. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department was supposed to keep him safe and help him get better. It has failed at every turn.

Texas’ juvenile justice system provides an ‘unsafe environment’ for detained children, report says

By Lucio Vasquez, Houston Public Media
May 30, 2023

A new report from the Texas Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that despite most children having “clear mental health needs,” the Texas Juvenile Justice Department lacks enough resources and staff to provide adequate support for detained children. 

“A way to throw kids away”: Texas’ troubled juvenile justice department is sending more children to adult prisons

By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune
April 28, 2023

Moving the most violent and troubled youths to adult prison makes it easier to help others in juvenile facilities, some prosecutors and lawmakers say. Youth justice advocates say Texas is giving up on the children who most need help.

In Texas youth prisons, children trapped in their cells use water bottles and lunch trays for toilets

By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune
September 12, 2022

Throughout this summer, children in Texas’ youth prison system have repeatedly been trapped in their cells, forced to urinate in water bottles and defecate on the floor as the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s workforce shrunk below dangerous levels. 

Almost 600 Texas youths are trapped in a juvenile prison system on the brink of collapse

By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune
August 2, 2022

“Nearing total collapse,” the Texas juvenile prison system is understaffed, overcrowded, and prone to abuse. The staffing crisis has only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequences of these chronic issues are harmful to detained kids. 

Understaffed, and under federal investigation, Texas juvenile detention system halts intake

By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune
July 7, 2022

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department doesn’t have enough staff to keep minors safe or deal with increasing suicidal behavior, its interim head says. Texas’ juvenile detention system has shut its doors and won’t accept any new kids because it is “hemorrhaging” staff, and officials fear they can’t ensure the safety of the nearly 600 youths already in their custody.

Isolation, Abuse and Neglect Also Plague County Juvenile Detention

Does Dallas County keep kids in juvenile detention for too long? Depends who you ask

By Toluwani Osibamowo, KERA

October 5, 2023

A top official in Dallas County’s juvenile justice department says a March report that led to major changes in the county’s juvenile justice system was flawed.

‘We need more money’: Tarrant County leaders urge investment in juvenile justice system

By Emily Wolf, Fort Worth Report

October 3, 2023

An audit examining Tarrant County’s juvenile justice system last year revealed a series of systemic issues: overcrowding, long stays in detention centers and judges hearing few of their assigned cases. These problems impact children of color the most. 

Conroe removes curfew after new state laws make it illegal to enforce

By Catherine Dominguez, Houston Chronicle

September 18, 2023

Several Montgomery County municipalities are removing curfews from their ordinances after Gov. Greg Abbott made it unlawful for cities to enforce curfews for people younger than 18. 

Dallas County commissioners use ‘hammer’ on juvenile dept in last-minute budget edits

By Josephine Peterson, Dallas Morning News

September 13, 2023

Following months of tension over facility conditions between the juvenile department and commissioners, the Dallas County budget will exempt top department officials from an annual 5% raise.

Texas investigation into Dallas juvenile department looks at 11 cases of alleged neglect

By Josephine Peterson, Dallas Morning News

August 17, 2023

Dallas County’s Juvenile Department is under state investigation into 11 cases of alleged neglect according to court filings in its lawsuit against commissioners.

Dallas County court hearing set for internal showdown over juvenile records

By Josephine Peterson, Dallas Morning News

July 13, 2023

The Dallas County Juvenile Board is at the center of an ongoing lawsuit, as two elected officials on the board are being sued by the juvenile department. The board met at the Henry Wade Justice Center on Monday, May 15, 2023, in Dallas. 

State opens investigation into neglect allegations at Dallas County Juvenile Department

By Josephine Peterson, Dallas Morning News

July 12, 2023

Dallas County’s juvenile detention facility is at the center of a new state investigation regarding neglect allegations of children.

Dallas County’s juvenile justice system is failing teens

By Dallas Morning News Editorial

July 7, 2023

Parents with children in the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice System are so unhappy with the conditions that they wish their teens were incarcerated in adult prison. What does this say about the state of our juvenile detention centers?

‘They are humans not dogs’: Dallas County juvenile lockup mistreating kids, parents say

By Josephine Peterson, The Dallas Morning News
June 29, 2023


Parents say children in the detention center at Henry Wade are being left in locked cells for the majority of the day, have not been sufficiently fed and some have not received medical care.

Tarrant County sends more kids to youth prisons than any other in Texas. Many blame this judge.

By Jolie McCullough, The Texas Tribune
September 21, 2022

“Tarrant County sends more kids to youth prisons than any other in Texas. Many blame this judge.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Harris County Invests in Youth and Sees Results

Harris County kept 15K juvenile cases out of court through diversion programs, DA Ogg says

Harris County has rerouted roughly 15,000 young people arrested for nonviolent, misdemeanors to less punitive programs in the past six years, a move District Attorney Kim Ogg said Friday is aimed at driving down youth incarcerations. 

Racial Disparities Prevalent Across Juvenile and Adult Systems

Majority of Texas children are kept on probation despite being low risk for rearrest, new report says

According to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the majority of children placed on probation in Texas are supervised for longer than necessary, increasing recidivism rates and wasting state funds. They found that Black children were 1.5 times more likely to be placed in a facility and 1.2 times more likely to be placed on probation than white children. 

Justice System Disparities: Black-White National Imprisonment Trends, 2000 to 2020

By William J. Sabol and Thaddeus L. Johnson, Council on Criminal Justice

Despite the disparity between Black and White imprisonment rates falling drastically in the past two decades, Black adults are still imprisoned at 4.9 times the rate of White adults.

Second-chance hiring could help solve the labor shortage—and address racial inequality

By Nyra Jordan, Fast Company

July 12, 2022

There are millions of vacant jobs in America, as well as a crisis of racial discrimination and inequity. Businesses have a responsibility to address both problems, and improving access to employment for justice-impacted individuals can help.

Changes Are Happening Across the State of Texas

Dallas County prosecutors want to lock up fewer kids, and it’s working

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has pushed for reform in his office to file fewer juvenile court proceedings.

Art as intervention: Dallas, Tarrant youth in juvenile justice find Creative Solutions

The nonprofit Big Thought partnered with the Dallas County Juvenile Department to start Creative Solutions 30 years ago. More than 14,000 youth have gone through the program. And in the past few years, Creative Solutions expanded to work with Tarrant County Juvenile Services as well.

Mart TJJD officials hope pay hikes will boost morale, ease staff shortage

Employees at the state juvenile lockup in Mart are eager for the pay raise that begins with their next paycheck Aug. 1, and its leaders hope the bump will boost staffing and morale.