This week we received tips that a juvenile had been detained for a great length of time in the Fort Bend Juvenile Probation department. This is a problem because juveniles at Fort Bend Probation are supposed to be dealt with and sent to various different possibilities including their home, a youth program, Texas Youth Commission detention, or any number of programs available.
When we tried to check on the status of this supposed prisoner, we ran into the almost insurmountable problem of juvenile records being sealed. We found it impossible to check on the status of individual purported offenders because of the secrecy surrounding the juvenile justice system.
While I can understand the reason behind sealing some of these events, that leaves the adjudication of the juveniles up to the hierarchy that deals with those problems with no public oversight, that I can find. Perhaps there are places out there where I can go to find if a juvenile has been treated fairly in the Fort Bend judicial system, but so far I haven’t been able to discover them.
We have all these child advocacy groups. Is there a juvenile advocacy group?
Here’s what concerns me. Juvenile offenders are really at the mercy of the system. If an attorney is assigned to them because they are indigent, we can’t even check to see if the attorney did his job.
In checking the recent local rumors, we seemed to find that they were an exaggeration. But we did find there were all sorts of excuses for detaining juveniles--mental health, no parents, waiting for other agencies, etc., etc. So we are supposed to leave all this up to people we don’t entirely trust anyway? By that I mean elected officials and bureaucrats. Now before you jump me about this comment, I want to remind you that I have found too much evidence in the past to give each of these groups a free pass.
While I don’t have any solutions, I’m just nervous where there is no public oversight for problems in the community. Am I missing something here, or should I be concerned? It’s not that I think most juveniles haven’t been dealt with fairly, I’m just concerned that some of them haven’t been dealt with at all.
A little housekeeping: A couple of things caught my attention this week, and I thought I would pass them on to you.
Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker will be a guest at the Fort Bend Chamber 7:30 a.m. governmental relations breakfast on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the chamber office.
I won’t be going as I rarely do breakfast that early, but she MAY be the new Houston mayor, and let’s face it folks: what happens in Houston doesn’t stay in Houston. It always behooves us to know who we are dealing with as neighbors. I’d like to go but that is just too early for me. I’ve worked 40 years to get to the point that I can sleep late so I don’t do early breakfast! Almost never! Don’t even ask me!
Most of my regular readers know I have an exchange student this year, and many of you have already met her as I drag her along often, particularly when there is food so I don’t have to cook for her.
Call the chamber office at 281-491-0800 or go to their web site to make reservations, which are necessary.
Anyway, I’ve gotten involved in the exchange student community a little and received notice that a host family in Fort Bend is being transferred out of the country. They have two exchange students living with them--both boys, one from Vietnam and one from Thailand. The boys can be split up, but if they don’t find new families soon, they will have to be sent back. Anyone interested can call Stan at 832-875-7888.
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