WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – In a statement Thursday, Texas House member Rep. James Talarico with District 52 demanded Gov. Greg Abbott call a special session to discuss Texas juvenile prisons.
In the statement, Talarico referenced a Texas Tribune report listing staffing shortages and conditions at the facilities that led to the demand. Talarico is a member of the House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, which oversees the state’s juvenile justice system.
“Greg Abbott took money from juvenile justice facilities to fund his border stunts. Now children are locked in windowless cells for 23 hours a day and peeing in water bottles,” Talarico said in the statement. “I’m demanding Greg Abbott call a special session immediately to protect these kids and fix this broken system.”
Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze issued a response regarding Talarico’s statement about the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
“The safety and security of TJJD staff and youth is a top priority for Governor Abbott,” Eze said. “This is a completely inaccurate, unsubstantiated narrative that the transfer of funds negatively impacted any state agency and their ability to provide services or resources to Texans.
“The Governor and Texas legislative leadership transferred funds solely as a placeholder, which has since been replaced. It did not impact the agency’s operational budget in any way and is not related to any operational decisions made by TJJD.”
Eze said many private and public employers, like the TJJD, were having a difficult time finding employees.
“The agency is developing their budget request for next session, and the Governor will support their request to increase the salaries needed to hire and retain a qualified workforce,” Eze said.