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Rep. Madden Questions Youth Commission Merger

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Representative Jerry Madden

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-790658.mp3

Dallas, TX – A key Richardson Republican is not ready to endorse a proposal to merge the Texas Youth Commission with the state's juvenile probation program. The recommendation comes from the state's Sunset Commission. KERA's Shelley Kofler talked with Representative Jerry Madden.

In 2007, Representative Jerry Madden sponsored legislation that overhauled the youth commission after an investigation confirmed staff had raped and beaten teenage inmates.

Madden says lawmakers rejected a merger of the youth commission and juvenile probation two years ago. As chairman of the House Corrections committee he will study the current proposal, but says he's not sure it will work now.

Madden: I'm not sure that mix is going to be the right thing for what we're trying to do with the youth of Texas. There are specific programmatic things that are done by the Youth Commission. I'm not sure how well they would fit in that kind of an organization.

Some merger critics say the Youth Commission has made great strides and needs more time for reforms to work. Madden has high praise for the new executive director and says he has seen improvements.

Madden: We've increased security substantially with the cameras in place. We've taken some steps with the misdemeanors so they are no longer in the Youth Commission.

Madden agrees with the report's conclusion that education and medical services are still not adequate. The full Sunset Commission will consider the merger proposal before state lawmakers act on it.