Youth Prisons Scandal Could Lead To Many Inmates Released - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/26/07-Tyler

Youth Prisons Scandal Could Lead To Many Inmates Released

Thousands of juvenile inmates could be back out on the streets within a few months -- many who committed crimes in East Texas.  That's the latest in a scandal within the Texas Youth Commission, where there have been allegations of improper conduct and sexual abuse at TYC facilities.

"I feel a sense of relief, but I won't feel a complete sense of relief until my son is released," says Genger Galloway, whose fight continues.  The Crockett mother says her son, Joseph, was subjected to severe assault in a TYC facility.

"The officer locked my son in a cell with an 18-year-old and listened to him beat my son and sodomize my son," she says.

Ricky Luna says he was sexually attacked, also beaten, at a Central Texas facility -- beaten by guards.

"When they slammed my head against the concrete, they tried to move the camera so it wouldn't see," he says.

Many prison inmates claim abuse every day, but at several Texas Youth Commission facilities, the Texas Rangers and other investigators have found many of the the claims are probably true.   Last year, more than 100 kids from East Texas went to TYC -- nearly 3,000 statewide.

They end up at facilities all over the state, with the closest in Corsicana and in Crockett.  And instead of serving their time, juvenile inmates only get released when prison officials think they're ready, using a reformation progression program.  There is no release date.

An investigator appointed by Governor Perry found many remain locked up for no good reason.

An independent review panel is expected to begin looking at more than 4,000 inmates in the system.  If the inmates have been at Texas Youth Commission longer than their minimum stay -- usually 12 or 24 months -- they will be released.  That is, unless the state can convince a judge that they are a threat to society and should remain locked up.

Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) agrees reform is essential.

"Think of all the dollars think of the victims of these crimes that have been perpetrated against them while they're in prison. It's disgraceful and a joke for Texas to be seen like this," he says. 

But Eltife says reforms can't happen overnight.  

"Though the reformed youth should be released, dangerous predators must stay in.  They need to be released, but we just don't open the doors and let everybody out," he says.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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