TYC should continue operations at Al Price Unit

Published 11:44 am Sunday, April 17, 2011

Closing the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in the Mid-County area would be a shortsighted mistake by the Texas Youth Commission. Al Price is a modern facility with room to grow, is located close enough to Houston that families there have access to their incarcerated children and has a volunteer base that is worth countless dollars to cash-strapped Texas.

The same budget crunch that is causing school districts to cut teachers is behind the possible closing of the Al Price Unit. The facility was built in the 1990s and has room to house 250 teenage boys. Currently there are about 140 youths incarcerated there. Of those, about 80 percent are from the Houston area.

One wise move the Texas Legislature made was to mandate in 2007 that juveniles be sent to facilities close to their homes. Because of their ages and because they will be returning home, it is important for the youth to maintain a relationship with their families. At the Mid-County facility, it is possible for families from Houston and much of Southeast Texas to visit in a day trip. There  is a program in place at the Al Price Unit to assist Houston area families with transportation.

The facility offers various services to the youth and their families, including volunteers who logged about 11,000 hours last year.

Local residents made their comments about why the Texas Youth Commission should continue operations at the Al Price Unit. In addition to the reasons listed above, the dedicated staff that works daily with the youth at the facility is a compelling factor in favor of continuing operations at Al Price.

 We hope those factors get the full cosideration of the Texas Youth Commission. If they do, we believe the decision that would be best for the troubled youth of Texas will be to continue operating the Al Price Unit as a place they can pay their debt to society, but more importantly as a place they can get their education, get out and make a real contribution.