When you think of youth offenders, gang members often come to mind. But as News 92 FM’s Maria Todd reports there’s a group that outnumbers them in juvenile jails:
That group is young offenders with mental illness. The rate of those offenders has risen to 56 percent in 2013 compared to confirmed gang membership in the lockups which has remained relatively steady at 54 percent according to figures from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Michael Griffiths is the director of the department and says the increase in youths with these issues is a reflection of the lack of resources.
Griffiths says the increase is on the radar of state lawmakers and he feels more resources will be shifted to the juvenile justice system in terms of secure facilities and probation officials.
He says just having people aware of the situation and advocating for these mentally ill youth will get them treatment sooner and hopefully help them to get out and stay out of the juvenile justice system.
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