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    Texas and Juvenile Court System

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    1. Describe the characteristics of the juvenile court in Texas. Describe the following:
    - Types of courts
    - General characteristics of the courts
    - Jurisdiction of the court
    - Court alternatives

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    The Juvenile Justice System in the State of Texas can best be described as consisting of two major components: a state-level component and a local-level component. Each component has distinct functions, duties, and responsibilities. Together these components make up one of the most progressive and modern juvenile justice systems in the nation. Many states look to Texas for innovative and creative approaches to difficult juvenile justice issues and problems. The system emphasizes protection for the state's citizens and holds juvenile offenders, and frequently parents, accountable for their actions, while efforts are made to rehabilitate the child to be a productive member of society.

    A. State Level Agencies State Level Agencies. The Texas juvenile justice system consists of two primary state-level agencies devoted to juvenile justice functions. These agencies are the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and the Texas Youth Commission.

    1. Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC). The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, commonly referred to as "TJPC", was created in 1981 by the Texas Legislature to bring consistency and quality to juvenile probation services in the state. TJPC is among 10 other state agencies under the oversight of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

    a. Creation and Purpose. The TJPC was created by Chapter 141 of the Texas Human Resources Code, its enabling legislation. This statute mandated the following purposes for the agency: 1) to make probation services available to juveniles throughout the state; 2) to improve the effectiveness of juvenile probation services; 3) to provide alternatives to the commitment of juveniles by providing financial aid to juvenile boards to establish and improve probation services; 4) to establish uniform standards for the community-based juvenile justice system; 5) to improve communications among state and local entities within the juvenile justice system; and 6) to promote delinquency prevention and early intervention programs and activities for juveniles.

    b. Board Members. The TJPC is governed by nine board members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. These board members must consist of two district court judges who sit as juvenile court judges; two county judges or commissioners; and five members of the public who are not employees in the criminal or juvenile justice system. Each board member serves a term of six years. The board appoints the Executive Director of the agency.

    c. Staff. TJPC has a small staff of 55 juvenile justice professionals, many of whom have been chief juvenile probation officers, prosecutors, trainers and criminal justice professionals. The staff has a combined level of experience that is invaluable to local level juvenile justice practitioners.

    d. Functions. The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission performs a variety of key functions in the Texas juvenile justice system. These functions include:

    1. Conduit For Legislative Appropriations. TJPC distributes funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature to assist local juvenile boards in operating probation departments, detention facilities and providing basic and special services to children in the juvenile justice system. In fiscal year 2000, TJPC will distribute approximately $106.8 million dollars to juvenile boards in Texas.

    2. Strategic Planning and Policy Development. TJPC regularly conducts a formal strategic planning process, in conjunction with key stakeholders in the system, to project the needs of the juvenile justice system and develop policy accordingly. Strategic planning data is crucial information that is presented to legislative leadership.

    3. Promulgate and Enforce Statewide Standards. TJPC is legislatively mandated to promulgate administrative standards to regulate the administration of probation departments and standards relating to the physical construction and operation of juvenile pre-adjudication and post-adjudication detention facilities. The agency monitors compliance with these standards annually by conducting on-site visits to all probation departments.

    4. Education and Training. TJPC provides no cost or low cost training to juvenile justice professionals across the state including juvenile board members, juvenile court judges, justice and municipal court judges, juvenile prosecutors, probation officers, correctional and detention officers, law enforcement, students, state agencies, and the public. Trainings and materials cover a broad range of topics pertinent to the juvenile justice system. During fiscal year 1999, 2,243 Texas probation personnel received 36,388 hours of training. During this time, TJPC's training curriculum was offered in 123 statewide, regional and local workshops.

    5. Certify Juvenile Probation and Detention Officers. TJPC's Training Department certifies probation, detention and corrections officers. A person must have acquired a bachelor's degree, completed one year of graduate study or one year social work experience, and completed 40 hours of training to be certified as a juvenile probation officer.

    6. Legal and Technical Assistance. TJPC's Legal and Legislative, Field Services and Research/Statistics divisions provide legal and technical assistance to juvenile justice practitioners statewide regarding a wide variety of topics ranging from juvenile law and procedural questions to programmatic issues related to services for children.

    7. Interagency Workgroups and Projects. TJPC has been instrumental in developing interagency workgroups with the governing boards and staffs of other state agencies that provide services to children. The goal of these projects is to improve the delivery of services to children and to reduce or minimize barriers to efficient service delivery.

    8. Federal Programs Interface. TJPC's Title IV-E Federal Foster Care Reimbursement Program assists probation departments in recouping federal monies for juvenile offenders placed in approved residential placements. TJPC's Title IV-E Federal Foster Care Reimbursement Program assists probation departments in recouping federal monies for juvenile offenders placed in approved residential placements.

    9. Management Information Systems. CASEWORKER, a software program developed by TJPC, is utilized by the majority of probation departments in Texas to facilitate case management and statistical compilation of data.

    10. Publications. TJPC publishes a variety of documents including annual reports, newsletters, program manuals, reference materials and statewide statistical reports related to the juvenile justice system in Texas. These publications are distributed free of charge to interested persons.

    11. Advocacy For Children. TJPC is committed to advocating for the children of Texas by educating lawmakers, juvenile justice professionals, and the public regarding the issues and needs in the juvenile justice system.

    12. Programs. TJPC provides funding and statewide assistance in the development of creative and innovative programs for children including substance abuse, delinquency prevention and early intervention programs.

    13. Research and Planning. TJPC's Research and Statistics Division collects all data relating to juvenile crime and the juvenile justice system in Texas. Annual publications distribute this data to key decision-makers.

    2. Texas Youth Commission (TYC). The Texas Youth Commission, commonly referred to as "TYC", is the state agency that operates the institutional component of the juvenile justice system. TYC provides for the care, custody, rehabilitation, and the reestablishment in society of juveniles who are committed by the courts for having engaged in delinquent conduct. TYC operates both institutional and community-based residential programs and provides supervision for juveniles upon their release into the community. Additionally, TYC contracts with private sector residential and non-residential service providers.

    a. Creation and Purpose. The TYC was originally established as the Texas Youth Development Council by the Gilmer Aiken Act in 1949. The 55th Legislature in 1957 changed the name to the Texas Youth Council and in 1983, the name was again changed to the Texas Youth Commission. Over the years, the purpose of the TYC has changed somewhat, with the current focus now on the control and rehabilitation of the state's most violent and chronic juvenile offenders.

    b. Board Members. The TYC is governed by a board consisting of six members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The board members are citizens recognized within their communities for their interest in youth. Members serve a term of six years. The board employs the Executive Director of the agency.

    c. Staff. The TYC has a staff of approximately 4,900 employees which are divided between the central headquarters in Austin, parole services in the community, and their state schools and community-based treatment facilities.

    d. Functions and Programs. Functions and Programs. TYC operates numerous specialized treatment programs for juvenile offenders. These include a re-socialization program, capital offender program, sex offender treatment program and a chemical dependency treatment program.

    f. Secure Facilities. Secure Facilities. TYC operates eight training schools which are located in Beaumont, Brownwood, Bryan, Crockett, Edinburg, Gainesville, Giddings, Mart, Pyote, San Saba, and Vernon with an Orientation and Assessment Unit in Marlin. Seriously emotionally disturbed youth are held at the Corsicana Residential Treatment Center. TYC also operates a bootcamp in Sheffield.

    g. Community Placements. TYC operated community-based programs are typically used as a transitional assignment following completion of a juvenile's placement in a secure setting. The Commission contracts with residential programs throughout the state that provide various placement options and treatments. TYC operates nine community-based residential programs located in Austin, Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, McAllen and Roanoke.

    3. Other Agencies. Other Agencies. Many other state agencies are active in the Texas juvenile justice system in various ways. Some key agencies include:

    a. Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR). The MHMR provides services to those juveniles having mental illness or mental retardation and who are not competent to stand trial or are found to be not responsible for their conduct.

    b. Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory ...

    Solution Summary

    An in depth look at the juvenile court system in the state of Texas.