r*CRITY TEXAS YOUTH COMMISSION t Arizona IN have to tal action, anu would Texas Riddle to the Houston Chronicle, after announcing she would push for an Arizona-style immigration law in Texas READ THE Observer’s series on false arson convictions at txlo.com/burnpatterns TEXAS OBSERVER PHOTO READ Nate Blakeslee’s TYC expos, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” at bdo.corn/tyc “As it is, the jail is overflowed on a nearly daily basis. How am I going to allocate my resources toward the real crime problem?” Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino to The Brownsville Herald “If you make [illegal immigration] a state crime as well, you basically relieve the federal government of a job that it needs to do. “McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez to the McAllen Monitor “I wonder what the ‘profile’ of an illegal alien is here in the border area […] It’s going to be extremely difficult to get rid of my brown color and ‘foreigner’ appearance.”commentator “drugstorecharro” on the Brownsville Herald website FOR THE LATEST political analysis, read Bob Moser’s Purple Texas at www.texasobserver.org/purpletexas Why would the Willingham panel meet behind closed doors? “Because the ability to resolve and discuss these issues requires that we have those discussions in private.” Asked when the panel would meet, Bradley said he didn’t know. Then he excused himself to catch a plane. The commission won’t be seen again in public until its next official meeting in July. \(Bradley has changed It’s too late for Willingham. But the commission’s continued delay tactics could be denying justice to hundreds of wrongly convicted Texans. As the Observer reported last year, more than 700 people remain in Texas prisons on arson convictionsperhaps one-half of them convicted by discredited forensic evidence. DAVE MANN DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS Guilty, Finally IN 2005, J.C. MOORE WAS INCARCERATED AT THE WEST Texas State School, a juvenile correctional facility in Pyote. Moore remembers Assistant Superintendent Ray Brookins as an intimidating figure. “If he asked you to jump, you better ask how high, or else you’d be locked up,” Moore says. At night, Brookins played favorites, taking kids out of their dorm rooms for “cleaning.” Moore knew something wasn’t right. But, he says, “whenever we would bring it up with staff, we would get blown off. We were told, ‘It will be looked into.'” It never was, at least not by the Texas Youth agency. The message that staff members were sexually abusing boys reached as far as Austin, but it wasn’t until a math tutor got word out to the Texas Rangers that an investigation was launched and evidence collected. Then the case was brushed under the rug. The men quietly resigned from their jobs. Brookins went to work at a hotel, while John Paul Hernandez, the principal also implicated, was hired by a Midland school. In 2007, the Texas Ranger report was leaked to the Observer and The Dallas Morning News. A scandal exploded, bringing TYC to its knees. Legislators demanded changes. Sweeping reforms passed. Yet Brookins’ and Hernandez’s cases languished in the Ward County D.A.’s office. Brookins finally went to trial on April 20. After 11 witnesses testifiedone victim stated he was abused as far back as 1994Brookins was sentenced to 10 TYC’s incarcerated population has shrunk in the meantime. The Pyote school where the abuse occurred is set to close May 28. The executive director of TYC, Cherie Townsend, denies the closure is related to the scandal, but many interpret the decision differently. “They wanted a trophy, and the West Texas State School was it,” says Suzanne Smith, a former administrator at the school. One former employee wrote on Facebook, “IT WAS GREAT AND WONDERFUL WHILE IT LASTED!!! … WE JUST MIGHT HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!!! I WOULD!!! WOULDN’T YOU???” J.C. Moore would not. “I feel relieved that it’s closing,” he says. “The facility should have been closed a longtime ago.” LAURA BURKE 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG
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