Director of Texas juvenile justice agency rescinds executive pay raises

money

There’s a new sheriff in charge of the state’s juvenile justice agency.

Michael Griffiths this week revoked raises awarded to 11 executives in March in possible violation of state law and removed two top agency leaders, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Griffiths took over the agency Monday after a year of turmoil marked by reports of violence at youth lockups, reports of coercion and extortion among inmates at Giddings State School east of Austin and a suit from a 32-year agency veteran who said he was fired because he voiced concerns about what was happening at Giddings.

A state auditor’s report had revealed routine cost overruns with agency construction projects.

And about a week ago state lawmakers learned that 11 top agency officials received pay raises in March that ranged between $3,500 and $14,700.

It didn’t take long for Griffiths to undo the raises, and more executive jobs may be cut, the newspaper reported. Griffiths promises to change the agency’s culture and be more transparent.

Griffiths follows interim leader Jay Kimbrough, who Gov. Rick Perry tapped to take over the agency in the spring after Cherie Townsend abruptly retired. State lawmakers created the state Juvenile Justice Department in 2011 by merging the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Five years ago the youth agencies received a bipartisan makeover at the hands of lawmakers, who were responding to sex and physical abuse scandals at youth facilities.

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Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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