Texas juvenile justice chief makes changes

Sept. 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The new director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department moved to rescind controversial pay raises and streamline the agency's governance, he said.

"We've got a culture to turn around here, and we're going to do it," Executive Director Mike Griffiths told the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman.

Griffiths briefed his staff at a meeting Tuesday, and top managers were asked to outline their responsibilities and list steps to take their jobs or divisions "to the next higher level of achievement," in a two-page form of "preferred leadership roles" he distributed, he said.

His actions come after former Executive Director Cherie Townsend offered pay raises in April to 11 top executives of the Juvenile Justice Department, ranging from $3,000 to $14,000, at a time when other state agencies were contracting, and the juvenile corrections system was hit by incidents of violence and disruptions leaving youths and staffers seriously injured, the newspaper said.

"He is off to a good start. He has a difficult job ahead, but he's worked in lockups and probation programs. He knows the system," said Texas House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, who was vocally angry when he learned about the pay raises in April.

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