Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Politics, privacy law and publicity combine to delay Youth Commission releases........

Let me start by describing what the TYC is and its regulations. The Texas Youth Commission or TYC is the state's juvenile corrections agency. TYC provides care, custody, rehabilitation, and reestablishment among our society for the state of Texas. The most chronically delinquent or serious juvenile offenders are put in TYC. It is for the felony level offenses committed by the youth, which is at least age 10 and less then age 17. However, if a youth has not been discharged by the age 19, then discharge is automatic because TYC authority over offenders ends at age 19.

So, the question is where should the offenders go after reaching the age 19 if they are still classified as a violent individual that has not served their full sentence. Once turning age 18, the role of being an adult kicks in and no longer places you under the category of "youth." Therefore, why the debate between TYC and the adult parole system over where an offender should be transferred or released to if they are of age to be tried as an adult.

Having 19 and 20 year old violent crime offenders who were serving sentences for aggravated violent crimes such as sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, or even some who were convicted of murder, manslaughter or indecency should not even be a question whether or not to discharge them to only be put on parole. Especially when the parole board officials held back in fear of endangering public safety.

These violent offenders need to be put away in jail or prison, not back in the public for a second chance when some of the crimes committed would of sent them to prison in the first place if they were over the age 18. If the offender is put on parole then it should be under the adult parole system to ensure they are being evaluated and watched in the correct manner. If the adult parole system feels they are jeopardizing the public safety because most would not be approved for parole if they were coming from an adult prison, then simply lock them up until parole is an option.

If the Criminal Justice system is allowing offenders to be released because they are out of time due to their age, then it should not be kept a secret. Officials are maintaining silence because they say they are limited by confidentiality laws to share information about who is being released or transferred. A secret must mean they don't want the public knowing what kind of violent people they are releasing back into the community because they are no longer considered juveniles even though they committed serious crimes.

The youth will continue to commit crimes unless harsher punishment follows after the age 18. Being young does not make it okay to break the law and in order to make that a point, TYC and the adult parole system need to strengthen their authority and stick with what is right and safe for everyone.

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