Changes on the Way for Juvenile Justice System

The Harris County Juvenile Detention Center is undergoing some changes because of a new report that highlights both the good and the bad in the system. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett talked about some of those changes today. Bill Stamps has details.

Judge Ed Emmett and eight other members of the Harris County Juvenile Board say things are going to get better at the county detention center. For starters, they’re going to hire better staff and try to improve the professionalism of existing staff by making changes, such as a new dress code: jeans are no long allowed and managers must where ties. New hires must also have 60 hours of college credit. Another change, no more boot camp. A new leadership program is in place that’s less in your face. This is Judge Emmett.

“We need to make this an environment so that juveniles are turned from the life that got them here and so that they don’t show up in our adult system.”

Another change taking place is their approach to free time for juvenile detainees. In the past the teens where free to play. This is Judge John Phillips.

“Now we actually interject some community stake holders coming forward and providing counseling, mentoring, art work. Just different ways that the children can express themselves in a positive way and stay active, so they’re less likely to commit incidents.”

The report was a year in the making. It found no problems with abuse or neglect but lots of problems with staff. The board hopes to start correcting those problems ASAP.