The State is Moving to Shut Down a Corsicana Facility for Mentally Ill Juvenile Offenders

kid in cell image.jpg
Image by Casey Serin
This year the Texas legislature approved a measure that requires the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to cut $23 million from its budget and continue paying for five of its six secure facilities by the first day of 2014, meaning that one of those six facilities has to go. To meet those budget goals the TJJD staff is also considering closing two halfway houses and the 124-year-old Corsicana Residential Treatment Center, which houses mentally ill juvenile offenders.

The agency has released an evaluation backing up their recommendation to shutter the Corsicana unit. Under the pro side, the evaluation points out that Corsicana houses males with acute mental illness, and it's currently the central hub for training new TJJD employees thanks to dormitories and training facilities available through a partnership with Navarro College.

That's it for the positives. Now to the list of reasons why closure makes sense, which is much, much longer. For starters, the unit has severely limited space. There are 90 single-occupancy cells and little room for expansion. Also, the buildings are in poor shape and are poorly designed for housing juvenile offenders, much less mentally ill ones.

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More troubling, perhaps, is that the evaluation also finds that the facility grounds are strewn with "hazardous debris and glass [that] are continually unearthed after rain or strong winds. These items are often used by youth to harm themselves and persist despite repeated efforts to clear the campus grounds."

All told the closures would displace 117 juvenile offenders. Where they would end up isn't clear yet. The TJJD board will vote Friday on the closure of the two halfway houses: Beto House in McAllen and Turman House in Austin. Beto House in particular was recommended for closing because two other facilities in the area can keep providing the same services, a TJJD spokesman told the Texas Tribune. The board has asked agency staff to present recommendations on the Corsicana facility in August.


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6 comments
lindamayalexander
lindamayalexander

My son has been at Beto House for several months, and has made tremendous progress there. Many of the boys have jobs or volunteer work outside the facility that they will have to give up when the House closes. It is a shame to have to disrupt their progress. The staff is amazing there, and unfortunately they will also be displaced and out of work. I hate to see Beto House close.

Bobtex
Bobtex

My nephew spent more than 2 years at the facility in Corsicana, and I made monthly visits there to see him. As ineffectual as this facility is as a rehabilitative or therapeutic center, at least it is a step or two above the usual juvenile lockup. Closing this facility means that Texas will provide even less than its current minimal services to a group that desperately needs more of them. These are kids--mentally disturbed--who got in trouble for a variety of reasons, but who would have a better prognosis if some attention were paid to them before they became adult criminals. If we continue disinvesting in our kids (see also public schools and children's health in Texas), in twenty years this state will be like a third world country. But by then, Rick Perry and all his corporate slush fund buddies will have taken their money and abandoned this state, and probably blamed these messed up kids for being messed up.

yoka
yoka

Republicans have to defund housing the mentally ill.  Otherwise tea partiers couldn't come out and vote.

John1073
John1073

Shouldn't the mentally ill be in treatment rather than prison? Republicans hadn't thought of that either. And of course they wouldn't fund it.

bifftannen
bifftannen

@John1073 Their hero Reagan started closing the mental hospitals. Now they just tow the party line.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@John1073 

That's exactly what's going on with the Republicans.  It's far cheaper to wait until a mentally ill person commits a crime, and then put a bullet in his head, then to treat him for the full term of his life.

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