News Briefs: Archives 2011 & Earlier

Turmoil of the Month in Texas

Youth Today could almost run a monthly column about the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), the scandal-plagued network of 22 youth prisons that over the past year has seen administrators fired and criminally investigated for alleged abuse of youth.

In the latest twist, Dimitria Pope, who has been acting commissioner of TYC since the state Legislature passed sweeping reform legislation last summer, was dismissed last month by a higher power: Richard Nedelkoff, a conservator appointed by the governor to oversee the agency.

Pope had drawn the ire of national juvenile justice experts for rejecting recommendations for reform from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice, and for green-lighting a more liberal use of chemical restraints by TYC guards.

“I think the best that can be said is that Dimitria was an adult corrections administrator who did not really get that those experiences are not readily transferable, and may actually render someone incapable of performing effectively on behalf of juveniles,” says Bart Lubow, who served on the blue ribbon panel and oversees the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Pope, a former researcher with the state Department of Criminal Justice, says the criticism and her dismissal are unfair. “I was the stabilizing factor who saw [TYC] through in its lowest point,” Pope says. “All those 18- and 20-hour days that I put in, it was for nothing.”

“The new conservator has a new direction he wanted to take the commission, a direction that needed an executive director with a criminal justice background,” says Commission Public Affairs Director Jim Hurley. These days, that’s about as harsh a comment as any public official is sent away with.

Pope says Nedelkoff could not have made the decision in earnest. “In one month this guy has come and not said 15 words to me,” she says. “Don’t you think if he’s going to work with me, he would acknowledge my presence?” He “is just bringing his friends, he has brought in people from Florida, where he’s from, as per-diem paid consultants.”

Nedelkoff, who worked at the U.S. Department of Justice under President George W. Bush, has not gone unscathed. He caught flack over his initial decision to keep his job as chief operating officer of Eckerd Youth Alternatives, a Florida-based nonprofit that does business with Texas, while serving as TYC conservator. He has since resigned from the organization. Contact: (512) 424-6130,



Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)



Recent Comments

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top