Public Safety Concerns After TYC Releases - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/06/07 - Crockett

Public Safety Concerns After TYC Releases

The long awaited reunion of Joseph Galloway with his family occurred Thursday on the front walk of the Crockett State School. Television stations from as far away as Austin were there to cover it. Galloway had already been on the front page of the New York Times telling his story of abuse and rape he endured during his four years in TYC facilities. 

Across the nation, the family has been the most publicized victims of the cover up scandal in TYC. This makes some observers angry. No surprise to Genger Galloway who led the fight to uncover the Texas Youth Commission cover ups.   Galloway said while holding her son's hand, " There was somebody that yelled out, an angry employee, that said the press has made my son a hero, made him out a hero. He'll always be my hero."

But it comes with a price. Galloway says her younger children have been taunted at school. Joseph , at age 14 was sentenced for inappropriately touching his siblings, something the family has made public. Joseph spent over four years in TYC, yet there's the wonder if he's truly rehabilitated. After all he like so many other juveniles had their sentences extended time and time again.

State appointed investigators and civil rights attorneys learned many extensions were unjust.    " Things like for staring into space, for shaking hands, speaking out of turn," said attorney Scott Medlock with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The Galloways plan to file a civil lawsuit against the state.  

Meanwhile, prosecutors wonder if the releases will affect crime in their areas. Nacogdoches County District Attorney Stephanie Stephens doesn't know if any inmates will return to Nacogdoches County. She expects some repeat juvenile offenders, just as there are among adults. She's careful to pass judgement over the TYC releases without knowing the details of each case.   Stephens said,  " If the answer is to let some of these children out then like I said, I'm not opposed to it necessarily. I just think we need to be very careful about which children we're letting out."

Public opinion can be harsher. The Galloways are seriously considering moving from their longtime home of Crockett. Genger Galloway said, " He's done his time. When all of these kids have done their time, what do they want us to do with them, send them to Mars. They're time is done. They've paid their price. It's time for them to be free." An issue communities will be forced to answer as more juvenile inmates leave the system. 

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