Crime

February 27, 2014

Director of state juvenile justice department resigns

Mike Griffiths, who has worked in the Texas juvenile probation system for more than 35 years, has resigned as executive director of the state’s juvenile justice department.

After two years on the job, the executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department submitted his resignation on Thursday.

Mike Griffiths was appointed executive director of the state agency in August 2012. Before that, for 15 years he was chief juvenile probation officer in Dallas County. Griffiths has worked more than 35 years in the Texas probation system, according to a news release.

His last day will be March 31.

Griffiths was appointed at a critical time. After scandals rocked the juvenile justice system in Texas, Griffiths and his team managed the merger of the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission as mandated by state lawmakers in 2011.

Staffs, budgets and the number of facilities have been cut more than 50 percent since the reorganization, said Scott Fisher of Euless, president of the agency’s board. Griffiths adeptly managed the new agency as it faced leaner times, Fisher said.

“We hate to lose him,” Fisher said. “We will try to build on what he led us into. Our goal is to find a successor who will continue the successful reforms and culture change that Mike has been able to accomplish in the past 18 months.”

After the merger, the juvenile system embarked on a program of community supervision as a solution that would be more cost effective and lead to better outcomes for young people detained in state facilities.

Since then, juvenile detentions and referrals have been reduced as well as incidents of youth-related assaults, the news release said.

The board is expected to name an interim executive director either at or before their March 28 meeting, the release said.

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