Lawmaker Says He's Shocked by Juvenile Policies

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The chairman of a state Senate committee expressed dismay that juvenile correction officers get only two weeks of training.

Senator John Whitmire of Dallas also is concerned guards may work in dormitory-style facilities that increase danger for youth and staff.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee held the field hearing Wednesday as part of an investigation into confirmed reports of inmate abuse at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg. There's also been a general rise in reports of abuse in other state juvenile centers.

The state House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family issues held a similar hearing into the incidents in June. The federal Department of Justice has likewise opened an investigation.

Four staff members were fired as a result of the five Evins incidents confirmed by the Texas Youth Commission.

TYC Executive Director Dwight Harris painted a picture of an agency that suffered morale problems from high turnover, insufficient training, and looming budget cuts while dealing with the most difficult and seriously delinquent youths.