Texas youth prison official investigated

AUSTIN, TX Catherine Evans was appointed to the Texas Youth Commission in September by Gov. Rick Perry. The ombudsman reports on the commission's facilities and evaluates them to protect children's rights.

Commission spokesman Jim Hurley declined comment on whether Evans may have been trying to stage her own sting operation to test agency security.

Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Perry, said in a written statement that providing appropriate security measures to protect the youth, staff and visitors at the facilities remains a priority.

"An ongoing investigation into this matter will determine whether or not the ombudsman's actions were a legitimate test of security," she said. "We will await the results of the investigation."

What kind of weapons Evans allegedly tried to bring in was not immediately available. Carrying weapons and other contraband into a state correctional facility is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

"We are committed to the safety of our youth, staff and visitors," Hurley said.

Telephone messages left on Evans' cell phone by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Friday.

The Austin American-Statesman reported on its Web site Friday that a report prepared by Evans and an assistant regarding her Sept. 22-23 visit to the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Beaumont said Evans carried "a brown canvas bag containing a weapon, an iPhone, prescription medicine and $300" through a security checkpoint at the gatehouse.

"Ms. Evans carried her bag through the metal detector and the alarm sounded," the report said. "Ms. Evans opened her bag and the guard glanced in, but none of the items listed above were identified. The guard made no further effort to identify what set off the detector's alarm."

Evans later was caught entering the Crockett State School with a weapon and other prohibited items.

Hurley said Evans is barred from youth lockups until the investigation is complete but can report to her office at agency headquarters.

Evans is a former Dallas County juvenile judge who chaired the Texas Youth Commission Advisory Board.

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