State Secure Facilities

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) operates five state secure facilities that are not serving the goal of rehabilitating youth and, in fact, often leave youth worse off. Conditions in these facilities have progressively worsened for youth since the agency’s creation, which led Texas Appleseed to file a joint complaint with Disability Rights Texas to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2020. The U.S. DOJ announced a formal investigation into the state secure facilities in 2021, and it is still ongoing. We continue to advocate at the Texas Legislature for meaningful juvenile justice reform that will ensure youth in Texas have a meaningful chance at rehabilitation by investing in local resources to serve youth closer to their home communities and closing the five state facilities.

Team Members

Headshot of Brett Merfish

Brett M. Merfish

Director of Youth Justice,
Youth Homelessness Project, Juvenile Justice Project

Headshot of Martin Martinez

Martin A. Martinez, M.P.Aff

Senior Policy Analyst,
Youth Homelessness Project, Juvenile Justice Project

Key Statistics

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In FY 2021, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) staff turnover rate reached 71%, higher than any state agency.

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22-23 Hours

TJJD has struggled with staffing shortages and high turnover, compromising the safety of youth and undermining chances of their rehabilitation. Youth have been isolated in their cells for 22 to 23 hours a day, using bags or water bottles to relieve themselves due to not being let out for the bathroom.