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Texas Gov. Abbott directs investigation into ‘illegal behavior’ at state’s Juvenile Justice Department

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked the Texas Rangers on Monday to investigate allegations that employees of the state’s Juvenile Justice Department had engaged in “illegal behavior” with youths.

Abbott called for an investigation in a letter to Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The governor did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged illegal behavior.

“The Office of the Inspector General for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) and the TJJD Independent Ombudsman have reported to prosecuting attorneys multiple allegations that certain TJJD staff members have recently engaged in potential illegal behavior,” Abbott said in the letter.

The governor asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the claims and submit a report on their findings “so that appropriate remedial action can be taken.” He added that he expects “full cooperation from TJJD leadership” during the inquiry.

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Camille Cain, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, expressed support for Abbott’s directive. 

She noted that agency was already conducting a review of cases dating back to 2017 “in an effort to ensure that we are as vigilant as possible in identifying potential illegal conduct and isolating any patterns of behavior that could help remove staff members before they can prey on the youth in our care.”

“I am thankful to Governor Abbott and Colonel McCraw for providing the assistance of the Texas Rangers to investigate allegations of illegal conduct among TJJD staff members,” Cain said in a statement. “Our agency will, of course, cooperate fully in an effort to ensure that our facilities are as safe as possible for our youth and that any criminal behavior is identified and punished appropriately.”