Statement on Appointment of New TX Juvenile Justice Ombudsman

For Immediate Release
Peter Clark, 512-473-2274

Austin - Today Governor Greg Abbott announced that JD Robertson will replace Debbie Unruh as the Texas Juvenile Justice Ombudsman. 


The Ombudsman’s office plays a critical role in protecting the safety and rights of youth in juvenile justice facilities in Texas. The Ombudsman recently uncovered that youth in a Dallas County juvenile probation facility spent months without going outside. Texans Care for Children supported successful legislation in 2015 to authorize the Ombudsman to protect the rights and safety of youth in county probation and private facilities.

Following the announcement, Lauren Rose, Youth Justice Policy Director for Texans Care for Children, issued the following statement:

“We are optimistic that the Ombudsman’s office will continue to work hard to protect the safety and rights of Texas youth in lockup and that Mr. Robertson will be a strong advocate for Texas youth.”

"He takes over after recent reports of sexual misconduct in state-run juvenile facilities serve as the latest evidence that Texas is using a dangerous and inefficient model for our state facilities. He will need to be vigilant in these remote, isolated facilities with high numbers of youth as state leaders consider closing them down and moving youth to local juvenile probation facilities or community programs.

"While state facilities are getting the attention in the media and Legislature, it's important to remember that the vast majority of youth who are held in confinement in the Texas juvenile justice system are under the care of county-run probation departments, not in state facilities. To ensure that youth are safe and receiving services that help them put their lives on track, he will have to keep in mind that the Ombudsman's responsibility is to protect youth's rights no matter where they are confined."