Former Bee County judge and one of Texas Monthly’s top 25 most powerful political figures, Kimbrough was called to the Texas Youth Commission in 2007 following reports of sexual and physical abuse at juvenile lockups.
On Tuesday, it was announced that he would return to the department to fix new problems that have been brewing.
Kimbrough, who currently serves as assistant director for Texas Homeland Security at the Department of Public Safety, will be on loan to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to address issues involving security and safety at the state-run facilities that house juvenile offenders.
“I am pleased that Jay has agreed to help TJJD as we restore legislative, public and employee confidence that Texas is operating facilities that are safe for both employees and youth,” said Cherie Townsend, executive director of the TJJD. “Jay has extensive experience in juvenile justice issues, including having served as conservator of the former Texas Youth Commission in 2007, and he also has the confidence of key members of the legislature.
“I also am deeply grateful to DPS Director Steve McCraw for agreeing to lend Jay to TJJD.”
He will act as special assistant for safety and security at TJJD.
The agency underwent an overhaul in 2007 requiring counties to keep wayward youth closer to their homes during rehabilitation and treatment.
Eight lockups were closed, and only the most troubled youth remained in the six facilities left.
A Texas Monthly article about Kimbrough reads, “The plain-spoken Vietnam veteran rode his Harley to far-flung TYC facilities for personal inspections. He was blunt about which heads had to roll – quite a few – and reporters ate it up.”
Last year, the TYC merged with the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission to create the new Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Recently though, stories and reports detail a growing problem — an increase in youth on youth violence and attacks on staff.
Couple this with the reports that youth ringleaders are essentially controlling the juvenile facilities, and it was clear that the state would once again need the man nicknamed “the fixer.”
Before joining DPS, Kimbrough was deputy chancellor at Gov. Rick Perry’s alma mater, Texas A&M University. He was fired by A&M Chancellor John Sharp and escorted off the campus after he showed a pocketknife to senior staff members.
In addition to his work at the youth agency, Kimbrough was previously dispatched by Perry to clean up the troubled Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Perry has called Kimbrough, a Vietnam War veteran, “a happy warrior” and a “man who comes back time after time to serve.”