Juvenile justice advocates critical of new TYC leadership

Staff Report
The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) - Reform advocates and some Texas lawmakers are concerned by what they say is a lack of juvenile justice expertise among the new leaders of the troubled Texas Youth Commission.

Since March, 10 former officials from Texas' adult prison system have joined the T-Y-C. Among those is Ed Owens, once the Number 2 official in the adult prison system and now the conservator of the T-Y-C.

He and others are taking on changing the juvenile justice agency after it was scandalized by physical and sexual abuse of inmates, official cover-ups and mismanagement.

An analysis by The Dallas Morning News finds those new officials, are coming from an adult prison system with its own problems, including courtroom defeats in the last decade in sexual harassment lawsuits filed by female employees. At least two prison wardens have been forced to quit over sexual misconduct allegations.

A spokeswoman for Governor Rick Perry defended the choice of Owens to lead the T-Y-C. She says the next field closest to the juvenile justice system is the adult criminal justice system.

State Senator Juan Hinojosa said officials coming from the adult system might not have the proper experience to run a youth prison system.