The Texas Youth Commission will keep open the West Texas juvenile prison where two administrators were accused of sexually assaulting male inmates, a scandal that prompted statewide reforms to the youth prison system.
The West Texas State School in Pyote will likely downsize and focus on treatment. About 70 percent of the students in the juvenile prison have chemical dependency problems, officials said.
The Sunset Advisory Committee, a state agency created to eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government, had called last year for the Pyote facility to be closed, citing difficulty in keeping the prison staffed and saying the closing would save $9 million.
Jim Hurley, a TYC spokesman, said Thursday the school's focus would be as a "smaller, more intense treatment facility." He also said the facility will focus on youths from West Texas instead of throughout the state.
"It's the only facility in West Texas," he said for a story in Friday's editions of the Odessa American. "We need a presence out there."
He could not say how many students would be moved from Pyote or how many jobs might be cut.
The facility now houses 84 youths and has 144 employees, 81 of them juvenile corrections officer.
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Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth said he liked the idea of focusing on West Texas youths but was disappointed in the planned cuts. He had wanted to see an expansion at the state school about 15 miles west of Monahans.
Cutbirth said one reason given for closing the facility was a lack of available labor.
"That's certainly not the case today, and it's probably not going to be the case for a while," Cutbirth said. "It's certainly good that they're keeping it open. It's certainly good for Permian Basin and West Texas kids. It sure doesn't do any good to get angry at the politicians in charge of this deal."