Costs Skyrocket at Texas Youth Commission Facilities

Staff Report

The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Youth Commission's inmate population has dropped by almost half in two years

But the annual cost of keeping each inmate has jumped up 66 percent since 2006 to almost $99,000 per year. That's a figure legislative leaders say is too high, so they're moving to cut spending at TYC.

The cost increases were contained in a report by the Legislative Budget Board that tracked the incarceration costs in both the juvenile and adult corrections systems in Texas.

The agency has been embroiled in controversy and scandal over the past couple years, including a sexual abuse and cover-up scandal. It was also revealed that the agency paid a contractor for hundreds of empty beds.

State Sen. John Whitmire chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The Houston Democrat says the TYC has "twice as many correctional officers as they need" and "a big, expensive central office staff they don't need." He accuses the commission of "trying to protect their turf and bureaucracy."

Commission officials say they have cut staff and are working with lawmakers.