The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a bi-partisan and independent federal office, has found that juvenile "justice" in Texas is in a deplorable state, especially for children and teens with mental health issues. After receiving multiple reports of, "abuse and mistreatment" of inmates, the commission began investigating Texas facilities.

Based on what this commission found, those reports were true:

What the Committee has learned through this investigation is deeply concerning, and for every day that it continues unchecked we feel is another day that the rights of those held in TJJD facilities are violated

Additionally, the commission felt the need to expedite their report due to the in-custody death of a youth that they had become aware of during their investigation, Joshua Beasley. He had been in Texas corrections since he was 11 for kicking a school safety officer. Beasley attempted suicide multiple times while in the juvenile justice system, and after being transferred to an adult facility he did take his own life.

He had just turned 16.

Photo by Hédi Benyounes on Unsplash
Photo by Hédi Benyounes on Unsplash

The report found a sharp increase in the mental health needs of inmates in a very short time:

According to the report, 69% of detained youth were identified as having moderate to severe mental health needs in 2021, compared to 21% in 2014.

The culprit? Chronic and persistent understaffing and a lack of resources. Of course, this problem will feed itself and grow bigger unless a major change happens. As more youths receive less mental health care, more violence will happen and more staff will quit. The few overworked staff will get burnt out and leave.

In addition to the violence, the lack of staff reportedly made conditions unsanitary as well:

children have been isolated in their cells at an increasing rate in order to compensate for the inadequate number of staff, sometimes spending 23 hours a day alone in their cell without access to bathrooms.

I don't know about you, but I certainly can't hold it for 23 hours- meaning my cell would be a mess.

If you lack sympathy for these "criminals" remember that they are still children. If you still lack sympathy, think of the staff that is bravely attempting to hold back the floodgates here. Texas must fix this problem. We are not a 3rd world country, and it is an embarrassment that we are treating children so cruelly due to what must either be ineptitude or indifference.

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