AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Texas Youth Commission board said Friday it will close three of its 10 units due to a declining population and budget reductions.
The decision, which was made necessary because lawmakers cut the agency's budget by nearly $117 million, will affect the placement of about 400 young people in custody and 700 staff members currently at those facilities.
TYC is Texas' juvenile corrections agency and will shut down operations by Aug.31 at the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Beaumont, the Crockett State School in Crockett and the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood.
The decision also includes consolidating operations at McLennan State Juvenile Correctional Facility Units 1 and 2 about 20 miles south of Waco.
All offenders at the facilities will be transferred to other units by the end of July. None of the offenders will be placed on parole as a result of the closures.
An additional 123 staff positions in the agency's central, regional and parole offices will be eliminated.
Employees at the affected facilities will have the opportunity to transfer to other TYC facilities that might have vacancies.
The TYC board and staff held public meetings to hear from local officials, business leaders, residents and TYC employees before making its decision.
One of TYC's facilities, the West Texas State School, closed last summer after physical and sexual abuse scandals rocked the state-funded agency.
Spokesman Jim Hurley said TYC's residential population on Friday was 1,627 and the agency also supervises nearly 1,000 parolees.
In February, West Texas State School principal John Paul Hernandez was found not guilty of sexually abusing five inmates at the West Texas State School in Pyote in 2004 and 2005.
In April 2010, the school's former assistant superintendent, Ray Brookins, was found guilty of sexually abusing an inmate who was 18 in 2004 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The scandals prompted state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson. to author a bill to merge the agency with the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission to create the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Madden was joined by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and a coalition of advocacy groups in the effort to save the state money and modernize the juvenile justice system.
Gov. Rick Perry last month signed the legislation into law. It takes effect Sept. 1.
The state pays about $250 million for a centralized juvenile justice system that serves only 1,800 offenders. $150 million could be saved by combining the agencies.
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