Tarrant Countys Juvenile Board approves adding new positions at detention center


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FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

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Fifteen new jobs will soon open at Tarrant County’s juvenile detention center to match the capacity of youths being held.

The center has a capacity to hold 128 youths but it currently staffed only to house 104, said Bennie Medlin, the county’s chief probation officer.

The 15 new positions were improved under the detention budget to the cost of $970,925. They will include detention offices and supervisors.

The county will also hire six people under juvenile services, which will cost $453,972. That will include five probation officers and a position to help with youth intake, Medlin said during Wednesday’s Juvenile Board meeting.

The funding starts for those positions on Nov. 1. Medlin said the county will begin filling those positions as soon as possible.

The Star-Telegram in recent weeks has reported on overcrowding and other issues in Tarrant County’s juvenile justice system, including teens illegally held in the county’s adult jail.

The county contracted the former probation director to investigate why the center was overcrowded. Other Texas counties of similar size are not having the types of overcrowding problems that Tarrant has, even as the number of juvenile criminal cases has decreased over the last decade.

The 21-page report uncovered wide-ranging problems at nearly every level and suggested that Judge Alex Kim, who oversees the 323rd District Court, is holding youth that should be let back into the community while their case progresses through the system.

The Juvenile Board’s vice chairman, Judge Susan Heygood McCoy of the 153rd District Court, said during Wednesday’s meeting that capacity was down to 98. Of those, 20 youths w…

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