Watchdog: Follow the Money

Empty juvenile facility sucks $100k in taxpayer money per month

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Crime,Watchdog,Texas,Kelly Cohen,Follow the Money,Law

A vacant juvenile facility outside of the Dallas-area costs taxpayers $100,000.

Though lawmakers told the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to shut the aging Corsicana Residential Treatment Facility more than a year ago, it still remains open, according to the Texas Tribune.

Just 25 employees remain there, waiting for word on if and when the institution, which once housed mentally ill youth offenders, will be salvaged.

The 65 offenders once housed there were moved to a different facility in Texas last year, after state budget writers cut $23 million from the state agency's budget and ordered it to reduce the number of facilities from six to five, the Tribune reported.

The board chose to shut the Corsicana unit because of its struggle with "rates of violence and abuse" for years.

"Today, though, despite explicit orders in the state budget to shutter one facility by Jan. 1, 2014, the Corsicana unit remains open and the buildings sit empty, awaiting a decision from the powerful lawmakers on the Legislative Budget Board who are scrambling to save the juvenile detention center that first opened in 1889 as an orphanage," according to the Tribune.

The delay in closing the unit has sparked concern among youth advocates, who argue the agency needs to focus on improving mental health care for juvenile offenders in state custody.

Read the full article here.

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