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MCLENNAN COUNTY

Local juvenile facility updates policies after inappropriate staff behavior

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MCLENNAN COUNTY -

The McLennan County State Juvenile Justice Facility in Mart has made some policy changes following incidents that led to multiple staff members being fired last month.

The changes come after two juvenile corrections officers were caught on camera wrestling with the teens.

The spokesman for the state juvenile justice department Jim Hurley says the wrestling was consensual and that none of the kids were injured but that the incident was a huge violation of their policy.

The two juvenile correctional officers involved and a dorm room supervisor who failed to report it were terminated and three others received disciplinary action and were reassigned.

Since then, Hurley says a series of new policies have been put in place including sending all guards through additional training regarding staff and youth relationships, the reporting of incidents and about the use of force. Plus a new digital monitoring system was installed which allows supervisors to watch what's going on in the unit in real time.

"We have tightened our monitoring of the phoenix program and we have senior level directors visiting that site every week," said Hurley. "So there are a lot of eyes watching the phoenix program. We will continue to monitor, to watch and to ensure that the program is operating as we expect it to."

Hurley also told me what happened at the McLennan County facility was an isolated case and not a system-wide problem.

"This is not something that was happening with a lot of corrections officers. This is something that two corrections officers did and several others did not report it. So we're talking about a very small number of our guards. The vast majority of our juvenile officers are dedicated professionals that work with these kids every day and do their job extremely well," said Hurley.

The Juvenile Department feels confident these news system checks will ensure nothing like what happened in the past, will happen again.

Though the inspector general pursued a criminal case after the incident, the grand jury ultimately found no criminal act had happened and no charges were brought.

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