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Justice Department to Investigate Reports of Abuse in Texas Juvenile Prisons

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“We all share the same goals for the young people in our care: to ensure their safety, their effective rehabilitation and the best chance for them to lead productive and fulfilling lives,” said Camille Cain, executive director of the Texas department, in a statement. A declaration.

While the US Department of Justice and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, clashed over several high-profile issues, including the state’s new law banning nearly all abortions, they both sought to resolve the problems of state juvenile prisons. .

In July, Mr Abbott called on the Texas Rangers, a division of the state’s Department of Public Safety, to investigate Juvenile Justice Department staff into allegations of unlawful conduct with incarcerated children. .

“Child welfare is a bipartisan issue, and it allows seeing reforms in a politically divided state,” said Brett M. Merfish, director of youth justice at Texas Appleseed, a criminal justice group and legal aid.

Texas Appleseed worked with another group, Disability Rights Texas, on a complaint that detailed staff sexual assaults on young people, physical abuse and gang activity in facilities, as well as chronic understaffing and caregiving. inadequate mental health.

Advocacy groups sent their complaint to the Justice Department last fall, and Ms Merfish said she was encouraged by the investigation and hoped it marked the start of real change.

“This is not a new problem in Texas,” Ms. Merfish said.

Chad E. Meacham, the acting U.S. attorney for the North Texas District, said many children are already traumatized when they enter the Texas criminal justice system.

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