EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Staffing shortages impacting the five state juvenile detention facilities in Texas, and they are no longer taking youths.
El Paso County Juvenile system is also dealing with staffing shortages as well and more youth in their facilities as juveniles who were supposed to go to state facilities cannot.
“That backlog is causing us to utilize the bed space that we do have and potentially putting us in a position where we may have to look at other alternatives on where were going to be housing any other children who come in for committing delinquent acts,” said Rosie Medina the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for El Paso County.
Medina says in the county detention facility there are 62 beds and earlier this week there were 58 youths being housed in the facility. Adding that six of those youths were supposed to be at a state facility.
Adding that in El Paso there are 10 open positions for staff in the detention facility and that retaining employees has been an issue but that they did increase pay for employees this year.
Explaining the difference between county facilities and the state facilities.
“Children that we keep at the local level the risk level that they are posing is not as high as those who we are committing to the state. Typically by the time we are committing to the state it is because we have exhausted every effort that we have and resource that we have in the local community,” said Medina.
The Texas Tribune reporting that children have reported being left to use water bottles as makeshift toilets in state detention facilities.
Medina tells KTSM 9 News that, that is not the case in El Paso but she will be testifying at the State Capital next week as advocates are calling for the state facilities to be shut down.
“There are advocacy groups that are advocating to shut down all 5 facilities and have the local county departments house and rehabilitate the youth and that is not possible. We do not have the capacity to do so, obviously, if we did we would not be committing children to the state,” said Medina.