AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. David Springer, professor of social work at The University of Texas at Austin, has been asked by the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) to chair a blue ribbon task force charged with defining a new juvenile correctional rehabilitation system.
The "Transforming Juvenile Justice in Texas: A Framework for Action" task force, which includes juvenile justice experts from around the country, will meet May 21-22 on the university campus.
"In his role as chairman, Dr. Springer has worked to identify key panelists, is assisting us in inviting other state and national practitioners to make presentations to the panel and ultimately will provide us with a document that will identify the goals, objectives and possible activities to be implemented," said Ed Owens, acting executive director of the TYC.
The scope of the task force's charge has been expanded to include recommendations about reforming the entire juvenile justice system in Texas.
"It is impossible to discuss TYC facilities as if they exist in silos," said Springer. "While what happened at TYC is extremely unfortunate and tragic, it also presents a unique opportunity for the state of Texas."
The TYC was created to care for, treat and educate the state's most serious and chronic juvenile offenders. In March, the Texas governor placed the TYC under conservatorship to guide reform of the agency's correctional and rehabilitative systems following reports of sexual abuse of youth.
The task force will look at two questions: If it could re-design health care, treatment and case management at TYC correctional facilities, what would it look like? If it could re-design the juvenile justice system in Texas, what would it look like?
Springer, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Social Work and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor, specializes in adolescent health, juvenile justice and substance abuse, and mental health treatment for juvenile delinquents.
A list of task force members can be found online.