Central Texas: Report Looks Into Local Juvenile Justice Systems

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email

CENTRAL TEXAS (October 17, 2012)--- The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition released a report looking at issues with youths who are locked up.

In McLennan County, 16% of youths in the juvenile justice system have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

In Bell County that number was reported as 44%.

Some local experts say dealing with more complicated cases on a smaller budget has created problems.

"It's the complexity of the issues that we're dealing with, not specifically the number or the percentage, but just the layers of issues the kids have these days and it's just a matter of working through all of those layers," Susan Humphrey, of the Bell County Juvenile Services Center, said.

The report also found that statewide 75% of juvenile justice departments said lack of funding has led to the best practices not being followed.

Jean Bellinger works with the Central Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and is a former juvenile probation officer and said she's seen a need to help kids early on with prevention programs.

"The budget cuts are coming up again for the 2012-2013 year and I can tell you right now that they're cutting again in health services especially for mental health and substance abuse and when you start looking at prevention and intervention programs I mean those cuts are drastic," Bellinger said.

Bellinger said efforts in Bell County are looking at other options to treat issues with mental illness.

"We're all working together in the community and trying to come together but once again if we don't have the funding it's going to depend on people willing to volunteer and what other resources we can come up with," Bellinger said.

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