Judge outraged after boy gets gun past guards in juvenile detention center




Posted on November 21, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 21 at 1:23 PM

HOUSTON -- There has been enormous fallout over a major juvenile jail mishap that started when a young man smuggled a gun into jail. The gun wasn’t detected because the metal detector was turned off, and ended up in the cell of a 16-year-old boy.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said someone needs to pay for the mistake with their job, and there’s a long list of people who could get in trouble.

What the county judge announced, was nothing short of a sweeping reorganization of the juvenile probation department: retirements, discipline and reassignments.

Emmett is calling for a house cleaning and new start for the department.

The loaded handgun was found under the mattress of a teenage inmate on Monday.

It was discovered that the metal detector used to screen him was unplugged, and may have been since 2006. Staff members were aware, but never took action.

The breach proved to be a sign of a much bigger problem. The county says this situation proves what some are calling a climate of negligence at all levels of the juvenile probation department.

The county judge has recommended the retirement of the department’s executive director, Harvey Hetzel, and Bob Husbands, a deputy director.

He’s also recommended the discipline and reassignments of as many as a half-dozen assistant superintendents.
Emmett said he was misled about the breach.

“I’m sad to report it seems everybody was aware it was off, and therein lies a real problem because when we asked some of the supervisory personnel at the juvenile board meeting we didn’t get clear answers. This event and this sequence of events just cannot be allowed to go on without some very major changes occurring,” he said.

Emmett said he will formally present the recommendations to the county’s juvenile board this Tuesday and the retirements will likely be effective within weeks.