Harris County Swamped with Young Offenders No Longer Taken by TYC

HOUSTON (AP) - Harris County officials say they need more space to detain juvenile offenders or they run the risk of letting dangerous youths on the street.

The county is working to absorb hundreds of young criminals that the Texas Youth Commission is no longer accepting.

The Texas Legislature revamped the TYC this year in response to widespread reports of inmate abuse by staff and agency mismanagement. Among the changes in state law, youths convicted of misdemeanors may no longer be incarcerated in state youth prisons.

Harris County sent 425 juveniles to TYC for misdemeanor offenses last year, many of them chronic offenders.

The county is now looking at expanding existing youth jails and opening new ones.

The state is providing Harris County with $5.8 million to help cover the costs of detaining more youths in the next three years.

But county officials say that won't cover all their expenses.