Perry Gives TYC Legislation Emergency Status
Bills would create TYC Inspector General, empower state prosecutors to step in
Gov. Rick Perry today designated legislation addressing systemic failures at the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) as emergency items for the Texas Legislature. Perry also met with TYC special master Jay Kimbrough, TYC acting executive director Ed Owens and newly appointed TYC Chairman Don Bethel on Monday morning.
The emergency legislation would:
* Expand the jurisdiction for prosecution over crimes committed at TYC facilities to allow the current TDCJ special prosecution unit to handle such cases.
* Create a new TYC Inspector General with greater authority and independence of commission bureaucracy.
* Empower the Attorney General to have concurrent jurisdiction with the local county or district attorney for the prosecution of offenses involving TYC.
"If a local district attorney does not prosecute suspected child molesters, the state must have the authority to step in and enforce the law," Perry said. "With an Inspector General that reports directly to the Commission Board, we can ensure that administrative investigations are conducted with greater authority, the power of subpoena and independence from the bureaucracy."
On Friday, Perry appointed Jay Kimbrough as TYC Special Master and charged him with leading a commission-wide investigation of the commission's policies and procedures, reports of failures and wrong-doings by commission staff and specific instances of abuse.
Kimbrough has since coordinated his activities with Acting Executive Director Ed Owens; Attorney General Greg Abbott; key staff members for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Craddick and lawmakers; State Auditor John Keel; Texas Rangers Chief Ray Coffman; and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inspector General John Moriarty.
"Every agency and officeholder I've spoken with has offered complete support for this investigation," Kimbrough said. "We have marshaled our resources, made assignments and have begun to execute our strategy. For the vast majority of youth commission workers who love their jobs and are committed to the mission, help is on the way."
Kimbrough said that the State Auditor's Office has agreed to provide an existing toll-free phone number, (800) TX-AUDIT, to report suspected criminal activity at TYC facilities.