Wage increases to address staffing shortages at Texas youth prisons

AUSTIN, TX – The Texas juvenile prison system is giving employees pay raises to deal with high staff turnover and staffing shortages that prompted officials earlier this week to stop accepting new children at its facilities.

Direct care staff, including correctional officers and case managers, will receive salary increases of 15%. The wage increases had been temporary following an emergency measure in April but will now be permanent, the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice announced Friday.

The permanent salary increases are “the first step in stabilizing the agency,” said acting chief executive Shandra Carter.

In a letter sent last month to heads of juvenile probation in Texas but only made public earlier this week, Carter said his agency should temporarily halt admissions of youths to its five state facilities because the Department of juvenile justice was “haemorrhaging” staff.

Following media reports in 2007 that detailed physical and sexual abuse in state facilities and raised concerns with judges and state legislators, the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice s strove to improve conditions in its establishments.

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In a May report to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, the agency’s ombudsman said a leadership overhaul due to “continuing problems” in the juvenile prison system, including under a An ongoing federal investigation, has failed to address the main cause of the agency’s current turmoil: chronic staffing shortages.

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