East Texas Woman Lobbies For Change In Texas Youth Commission

Genger Galloway stands outside the Crockett State School. The juvenile prison is where her son lives. She had expected a 9 month sentence would help teach her 14 year old not to inappropriately touch his sister. Today her son is 19. " Basically TYC has been holding our children hostages," said Galloway.

Galloway became a children's rights advocate after her son was allegedly beaten at a juvenile prison prior to his transfer to Crockett. Galloway joined other parents in Austin earlier this week to testify before a Senate panel about the physical and mental abuse of juvenile offenders. Prior complaints to the TYC were always disregarded, according to Galloway. " Every time our children or us or staff made a complaint to an official it was hidden and swept under the carpet."

An internal investigation found that many prison staffers had complained about abuse to their immediate bosses and to officials in Austin. But for more than a year people in charge didn't do anything to stop it. Former Crockett State School employee Brenda Faulk says her complaints were ignored too.   Faulk said,  " I know there are a lot of supervisors that has been abusing kids for years."

Galloway, who once worked as a nurse behind the tall fence at Crockett State School said, " There are wonderful staff. They're scared to death and when they do complain they're forced into retirement early or to resignation, threatened or scared to death and they just quit." Now quitting is the TYC's executive director following the scandal of cover ups.

At Senate hearings the Lt Governor and key legislators lashed out at Neil Nichols the acting TYC executive director, following the resignation of Dwight Harrison. The senators learned from Texas Rangers of a two year cover up of nearly 100 cases of sexual assault at a West Texas Facility. Now they want a clean sweep of top administrators.

" Finally people are listening," responds Galloway. Galloway is working with Senators in drafting a bill that calls for more state juvenile prison staff, better trained staff, and monthly unannounced visits by a third party.

This change Galloway is expecting at Crockett State School and other juvenile prisons may come too late to benefit her own son. But as her boy told her this week, the work she is doing will benefit so many more young people." Tearfully Galloway said, " I'm just calling for justice for these kids because if we don't help them now they're just going to be statistics and they'll go back into the system into TDCJ."

The directors of the Crockett State School wouldn't comment for this story. They referred inquiries to the TYC public relations department in Austin.