**VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE LINKED **
AUSTIN — Today, Representative James Talarico was joined by youth advocates to announce House Bill 4356, dissolving the Texas Juvenile Justice Department by 2030 and replacing it with the Office of Youth Safety and Rehabilitation. Using the savings from closing child prisons, the new office would build a system to rehabilitate kids closer to home—including secure rehab centers for kids deemed a risk to themselves or others.
The legislation intends to fundamentally change the state’s approach to juvenile justice by refocusing efforts away from incarceration and towards rehabilitation. Despite significant reforms over the course of decades, child prisons remain abusive and counterproductive—and it’s getting worse. Last year, we learned that kids were being locked in windowless cells for 23 hours a day, being forced to defecate on their food trays and pee in water bottles.
States like Kansas and Utah are moving away from incarcerating children. In Texas, Republicans and Democrats have already closed eight child prisons since 2007—and youth crime rates and recidivism rates have gone down since then. This legislation continues this path to truly rehabilitate kids and maximize public safety.
“Child prisons are a failed policy experiment,” said Talarico. “The trauma of incarceration makes kids MORE likely to commit crime, not less. I’m proud to file House Bill 4356 to close all child prisons in Texas by 2030 and create a system to rehabilitate kids.”