Texas Juvenile Justice Department Appoints New Director

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) has hired a new executive director:

Michael Griffiths, the highly regarded retired director of Dallas County’s juvenile justice program, was hired this afternoon as the new executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

The vote was 7-6.

Griffiths, who served on the governor’s State Juvenile Justice Task Force and was a member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network for the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, was hired over two other finalists: Retired Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, now a businessman, and Clint Carpenter, who served as education superintendent for the Texas Youth Commission.

The vote on Griffiths came after a closed-door interview on Thursday and two hours of the board meeting in executive session today.

Griffiths takes the reins of an agency that has undergone extensive changes over the last few years. It was a close vote, but I’m glad the board decided to hire a professional with extensive juvenile justice experience. Apparently, the board did not think such experience was necessarily required for the job and interviewed at least one candidate with no juvenile justice experience:

While no public vote was taken, officials said the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s governing board interviewed three finalists — two with experience in the juvenile justice field.

The American-Statesman obtained a copy of an internal agency memo listing the three finalists: Mike Griffiths, director of Dallas County’s juvenile corrections; retired Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, a former Pepsico and Sam’s Club executive who is now CEO of a company that sells automobiles to U.S. military members stationed overseas, and Clint Carpenter, who served as education superintendent for the Texas Youth Commission.

While Griffiths and Carpenter appear to be the only two applicants with youth-corrections experience, a job description posted online shows none is required.

The only listed requirements: “Master‘s degree in business, public administration, criminal justice, social work, counseling, law, psychology, sociology or a related field and ten (10) years of increasingly responsible administrative experience directing the operations of a large program.”

The agency has faced increasing questions in recent months from legislative leaders over whether its management can operate secure and safe lockups that are free of assaults and gang disruptions.

Alex Hunt

About Alex Hunt

Alex Hunt is a former Yale & Irene Rosenberg Graduate Fellow at the Center for Children, Law & Policy. Alex graduated from the University of Texas in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in government. Before entering law school, he taught middle school math at YES Prep Southwest in Houston with Teach For America. In 2010, he received New Leaders' EPIC Spotlight Teacher Award, a national award for teachers with outstanding student growth. Alex graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2013. During law school, Alex was Casenotes & Comments Editor for the Houston Journal of International Law, interned for both state and federal judges, and served as Vice President of the Health Law Organization (HLO). In addition, Alex has received the Irving J. Weiner Memorial Scholarship Award (for a year of outstanding work in the UH Law Center Legal Clinic), the Napoleon Beazley Defender Award (for outstanding work on behalf of children), the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award, the Mont P. Hoyt Memorial Writing Award for an Outstanding Comment on a Topic in International Law, and he was a finalist for Texas Access to Justice's Law Student Pro Bono Award. Alex is currently in private family law practice with the Hunt Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Katy, Texas.

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