|TDCJ Clemens Unit. Region III|
Austin American Statesman, Mike Ward
While the youths may statistically look much the same, their living conditions couldn't be more different.
At the juvenile centers, youths live mostly in dorms at campus-like lockups, with sofas, TVs and other comforts of home. Treatment and education programs take first priority. Students who advance in their programs can be rewarded with pizza parties and access to video games, among other perks.
At Clemens, such perks are unheard of. The youths wear prison uniforms, live in grimy, foul-smelling cellblocks without air conditioning and with chipped paint and graffiti on the walls. They might work in the fields.
Another difference is that youths at other lockups can be serving time for both determinate or indeterminate sentences, meaning they can get out sooner if they behave and complete their programs fast. In the Clemens Unit, all convicts have determinate sentences — meaning many won't get out until they are middle-aged.
In years past, teens sentenced to the youth lockups were generally there for lesser crimes. The ones certified as adults and sent to the Clemens Unit were generally the tougher and violent offenders. But now, with changes in state law, most of the lesser-crime youths are sent to community-based programs, and the ones sent to juvenile lockups are much tougher costumers than ever before.
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