"THE CHANGING EXPECTATIONS
OF JUVENILE JUSTICE IN TEXAS"
Randy Turner, Director
Lyn Willis, Assistant Director
Bennie Medlin, Assistant Director
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
September 9, 2013
Changes in the
Texas Juvenile Justice System

2007:
 Public
disclosure of abuses by staff in the state juvenile
facilities operated by the Texas Youth Commission (TYC)
 Law changed to no longer allow youth convicted of
misdemeanant offenses to be committed to TYC
 Began to see an out-cry to reduce the number of youth
in TYC secure programs (approx 5,000) with emphasis
on community-based interventions
 Legislature began to provide additional funding for
local juvenile probation departments through the Texas
Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC)
Changes in the
Texas Juvenile Justice System

2009-2011:
Significant issues continued at the TYC State-operated
secure juvenile facilities
 Continuing emphasis for the State to provide funding to the
local juvenile probation departments to support communitybased services through TJPC
 Legislative action to combine TYC and TJPC into one juvenile
justice agency began in 2009, and culminated in 2011 with
the creation of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD)
 On-going decline in referrals to both the local juvenile
departments and the State

Changes in the
Texas Juvenile Justice System
What is going on NOW?
 Major reduction in the number of youth being committed to
the State’s custody; each county is provided with a “target”


TJJD has reduced state-operated facilities from 14 to 5
since 2007; population has been reduced from 5,000 to
1,200
Continued emphasis on providing $$$ to local probation
departments to better serve youth within the community
through family-, community-, and evidence-based services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
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
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Unlike many other probation agencies across the State and nation,
TCJS has historically had a philosophy to work with youth within the
context of community and family engagement, with support of and
in collaboration with other key stakeholders
Continuing current collaborations and creating opportunities for new
partnerships will be critical components of our future strategic work
Through research and program evaluation, we will learn more
effective application of these core principles and values
Tarrant County Juvenile Services

Commitment to Principles of Effective Intervention:





Assessment to clearly identify youth and family risk and needs; now
required by the State prior to all dispositional hearings
Training for all staff in motivational interviewing techniques, supported
by national research as an evidence-based technique for juvenile
offenders
Responsivity principle…develop and implement best and evidencebased practices directly related to impacting identified risk/needs
Engaged in work to address Disproportionate Minority Contact, including
the MHC work on Cultural and Linguistic Competencies
Research and Program Evaluation
Tarrant County Juvenile Services

New emphasis on Prevention Services

Through grant with TJJD, family and school engagement initiative
with FWISD/ “INSIGHTS”




“Family Engagement Specialist” at the district’s DAEP provides case
management services
Referral for more intense services with existing District resources & additional
contract providers,
Support for transition back to the home school and navigation of available
resources
Crossover Youth Program/”Shared Visions for Success”

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Collaboration with DFPS/CPS to provide collaborative services for youth with
history of CPS involvement upon referral to the juvenile justice system
Coordinated assessment, case planning, & case management
One Judge hears all cases to provide consistency and reinforcement
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Even though overall referrals are down, continue to address an
increased need for mental health services
Mental Health Related Services
Cooperative agreement with Child Welfare and MHMRTC to provide
liaisons that have offices in the Juvenile Justice Center to better
address needs of youth/families and assist in coordination of
services;
Conduct mental health assessment upon intake to detention and with all
new referrals (MAYSI-2), with designated protocol to respond to
identified needs;
Two Full-time Psychologists hired since 2004;
Contracted psychiatric services, available in detention on weekly basis;
Enhanced referral process for emergent MH services as needed;
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Collaboration with MHMRTC to provide…
(1) Special Needs Diversion Program to provide specific mental
health intervention 24/7 for specific youth/families,
(2) Expanded MH services for youth/families;
Involved in community-wide initiatives to develop and implement
Trauma-Informed Care, and a deeper understanding of brain
development, esp. within the juvenile offender population;
Involvement with the State through the MacArthur Foundation’s
Model-for-Change initiative to develop a mental health
curriculum for juvenile justice personnel
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Questions?
THANK YOU!!
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"The Changing Expectations of Juvenile Justice in Texas"