St. Mary's Law Journal


Studies of adult prison populations show large percentages of such populations are juvenile offenders. The right to treatment concept emerged as a solution to this perplexing problem. The right to treatment guarantees juveniles post-adjudicative care and treatment aimed at rehabilitation. Courts have indicated a willingness to support the right to treatment concept. However, legislatures limit courts power to affect change. To fully implement the right to treatment, legislatures must establish an express right to treatment for institutionalized juveniles and set standards to ensure this right. The Texas Legislature has an excellent start toward this goal, but it should not be satisfied with the present rules. The Texas Legislature should create an autonomous standards committee to formulate minimum standards and assist the Texas Youth Council (TYC) in application and interpretation. The standards established by the committee should recognize institutionalized juveniles have an enforceable right to receive adequate treatment based upon their particular needs. The committee must also promulgate a review procedure which defines what judicial remedies are available to juveniles who did not receive adequate treatment. Establishment of this committee would lift the tremendous burden currently shouldered by the TYC of formulating and applying standards as well as administering facilities. Lastly, the Texas Legislature should create an independent review board to assist the TYC in initially assessing the juvenile and periodically reviewing the juvenile’s progress toward rehabilitation. Requiring a periodic review ensures ongoing evaluation of goals and objectives for treatment. These proposals will create a more efficient system and will ensure juveniles the right to treatment.


St. Mary's University School of Law

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Juvenile Law Commons