Head Of Juvenile Prisons In Ohio To Advise Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/13/07 - Austin, Texas

Head Of Juvenile Prisons In Ohio To Advise Texas

Jay Kimbrough, right, who has been appointed as Special Master of the troubled Texas Youth Commission by Texas Gov. Perry, talks during a news briefing Monday, March 12, 2007, in Austin. Jay Kimbrough, right, who has been appointed as Special Master of the troubled Texas Youth Commission by Texas Gov. Perry, talks during a news briefing Monday, March 12, 2007, in Austin.

A career prison administrator who was appointed to head Ohio's juvenile prison system amid reports of inmate abuse was scheduled to visit Texas this week to advise lawmakers on stabilizing the embattled Texas Youth Commission.

Thomas Stickrath took over the Ohio Department of Youth Services in December 2004 after the previous director was forced to resign.

At the time, six guards had been indicted over the previous 18 months for sexual battery and dereliction charges. The agency also faced two federal lawsuits charging that youths were denied legal counsel and that the department failed to stop sexual abuse and to provide adequate medical care at a prison for girls.

Mr. Stickrath, 52, said there are parallels between Ohio's situation two years ago and the troubles now facing Texas' juvenile prison system. State leaders in Texas are scrambling to deal with claims of sexual abuse of inmates by employees and possible cover-ups within the agency's administration.

Robert Black, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, cited Mr. Stickrath's experience "turning around a youth agency that's fallen into disarray." He said that Mr. Stickrath will be in Austin for less than a week and that Texas will pay only his expenses.

"We knew we had to restructure the agency, and it's no secret that Ohio had similar problems," Mr. Black said.

Mr. Stickrath replaced six of the eight facility superintendents in Ohio. He also adopted tougher hiring standards and a policy defining rape and sexual abuse to employees and teaching them how to report misconduct.

Reports from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee show that the Ohio system still grapples with problems, including instances of staff members assaulting youths and fights between youths. Mr. Stickrath said his department still has a lot of work to do.

Story courtesy of the Associated Press.

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