ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The State of Texas is considering an in-city juvenile pre-adjudication detention facility for Abilene and Taylor County. However, during Taylor County Commissioner’s Court meeting Tuesday, several concerns were raised about the new facility.
“I have great concern, just in my experience of seeing how the State has operated over the years,” said Taylor County Commissioner, Precinct 1, Randy Williams, reading excerpts of the 144-page document sent by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Williams continued, “The wording says it wishes to minimize the distances youth are detained from their homes, and it sounds like a great concept. However, that doesn’t really line up with legislature’s mentality of where services should go.”
One of many concerned brought forward during the Taylor County Commissioners Court, after the Texas Juvenile Justice Department recommended Abilene and Taylor County receive a new juvenile pre-adjudicated detention facility. However, the new facility wouldn’t house local kids, rather kids being brought in from the nearly 50 counties partnered with Taylor County.
Juvenile facilities are needed across the state, but the implications of bringing another one to Abilene could outweigh the benefits.
Judge Thomas Wheeler, who spoke before County Commissioners, said the 144-page document did not mention who would be responsible for paying the legal fees for the kids.
Commissioner Chuck Statler also raised concerns over staffing shortages throughout the county’s detention facilities, as well.
“If we continue to lose employees, and not be able to replace those people in Taylor County, is going to be put in a bind, having to look for places to put our detainees,” Statler raised concern.
Statler also mentioned the possibility of a new facility becoming an unfunded mandate, meaning in several years, the state puts the cost of the operation on the county or city.
“They do that through a promise that everything is going to be great, and then three years later, they drop it on the City and the County,” Statler explained, “because if this was such a great concept, why did we close the Post unit several years ago?”
Randy Williams followed Statler by saying in his years working with the state, sometimes they would jump the gun on solutions instead of working through problems at these facilities.
“Rather than going in and cleaning house, and fixing problems, that’s what they tend to do. They shut stuff down rather than fix it. So, I have concerns about some of that,” Williams said.
Judge Thomas Wheeler mentioned two possible locations for the new facility, one on South 27th street and the other near Ortiz Elementary School.
County Commissioners elected to take action on a “no-vote” Tuesday, until a formal response was made by the county to the state asking to get the location moved.