Texas’ Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Don Clemmer, later testified that his office didn’t have the resources to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at a TYC facility in Ward County because at the time the local agent was busy investigating charges of voter fraud by a 68-year-old Hispanic woman.
For six years, Gov. Rick “Law and Order” Perry dragged his feet on attacking systemic problems with child rape in the state’s Texas Youth Commission facilities. I’m sure his reluctance had nothing to do with his major donors from the GEO Group, the company to whom he’d bestowed prison privatization contracts:
Mary Jane Martinez’s son Jimmy entered the Texas criminal justice system in 2003 because he missed his school bus. He was charged with truancy and destruction of property (for throwing rocks) and sent to live in a county juvenile detention center for a sentence of six months. After five months, instead of being released, he was transferred to an academy 400 miles away, managed by the Texas Youth Commission, the agency that oversees detention and treatment centers across the state. Jimmy finally came home, four years after he was sent away, a period his mother now describes as a living hell. His best friend had been murdered, and Jimmy had been beaten and raped—both, Mrs. Martinez testifed, by TYC guards.
“It just made him worse,” Martinez says of the treatment. “My son has PTSD now. He’s schizo.” Unable to find a job after getting out, he was arrested for burglary and landed in a prison facility eight hours away from his native San Antonio.
He wasn’t the only victim. Go read the rest.
In response to the outcry, Perry appointed his former chief of staff, Jay Kimbrough, to investigate the abuses, and hired an independent ombudsman to sit on the board.
But reports continued to pile up. In late 2007, Texas shut down three TYC facilities in quick succession, the last coming in October, when it shuttered a Coke County juvenile detention center after the ombudsman reported unsanitary conditions, such as feces in the shower and blocked-off emergency exits. Two months later, seven former inmates filed suit alleging that they had been sexually abused by guards at the facility, which was operated by the Florida-based private contractor, GEO Group.
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