● One out of four children in Texas will bearrested for a crime and referred to theTexas Youth Commission (TYC) before hisor her seventeenth birthday.
● 1.2 million Texas youngsters entered thejuvenile justice system in 1985, the latestyear for which figures are availabl
● In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, morethan half of the children referred to theTYC will commit another crime as ajuvenil
● One out of three TYC “graduates” willcontinue his or her criminal career as anadult and enter a state prison by agetwenty-one.
Kevin W. isn’t the boy next door. . .if you’re lucky. In the eight years since his first brush with the law, for stealing a candy bar at age nine, he has been arrested twenty-two times. He’s heard his father tell a juvenile court judge, “Keep him. I can’t do anything with him.” And he’s heard both his parents, including the mother who left the family when Kevin was eight, say that they expect him to wind up in the state penitentiary. Kevin agrees.
North Texans can form their own opinions when a new KERA production, juvenile Injustice, premieres Monday, January 11, at 7 p.m. on Channel 13. Juvenile Injustice, produced by LeRoy Hudson and reported by News Addition’s Rosalind Soliz, is Kevin’s story. It is a rare view through an offender’s eyes of Texas’ troubled juvenile corrections system and the forces that bring more than a million Texas kids a year into its machinery. It is a story, in many ways, of well-intentioned failure.
The system has tried. Kevin has been referred to more than a dozen youth corrections programs, yet none seems to have made a positive difference in his troubled life. The public still suffers at his hands, and in one stint in a state “correctional” facility, Kevin actually picked up a few new skills, including lock-picking, forgery, and car theft.
If Kevin were the rare exception, the isolated hard case in an otherwise smooth-running juvenile justice system, KERA’s new documentary might never have been made. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of Kevins, and Juvenile Injustice is a chilling portrait of them all.
At 7:30 p.m., immediately following Juvenile Injustice, Channel 13 will broadcast a live studio discussion involving noted authorities on juvenile crime and members of families that have been touched by juvenile offenders. News Addition’s Bob Ray Sanders will host this candid round table on what’s wrong with the system, what’s right, and how to improve it. Executive producer of Juvenile Injustice is Stan Matthews.