Rep. Flaggs to form panel to probe training schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2004

[7/16/04]State Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, plans to form a subcommittee to make recommendations to the Legislature on how to solve problems at Mississippi’s two training schools.

Flaggs, in the first year of his fifth term in the Mississippi Legislature, made the remarks to the Vicksburg Rotary Club Thursday.

The two schools, at Oakley near Raymond and at Columbia in South Mississippi, are the focus of a federal suit filed against Mississippi charging inhumane conditions at the schools.

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“I have created what I call the Youth Service Subcommittee of the House (of Representatives), which is composed of 13 members,” said Flaggs, who is chairman of the Juvenile Justice Committee of the House. “We are going to meet three days in August, two in September and one in October.”

He said he plans for the subcommittee to look at youth services and make a report to the Legislature on what should be done to help the youth of Mississippi beyond the training schools.

“We are going to talk about the interactive services centers, the community outreach programs, … the boys and girls clubs, the youth challenge programs and how we can coordinate those better,” Flaggs said, adding he also intended to deal with the funding that will be needed to put the recommendations in effect.

“I am absolutely confident, once I make this finding … no later than November, the Legislature will agree to it,” he said.

The veteran legislator said he has the total support of Gov. Haley Barbour.

“In fact the governor and I have shared many conversations about the training schools,” Flaggs said.

Pointing to Missouri, Flaggs said he hopes to model what will be recommended to the 2005 session on how that state handles youth issues. Missouri, he said, places the highest priority on youth issues and considers them to be totally nonpartisan.

Also in his talk to the local Rotarians, Flaggs said the Warren County Board of Supervisors should be complimented for their support of youth services and the Warren County Youth Court.

He also spoke highly of Warren County Court Judge Johnny Price who is also the youth court judge. Specifically mentioned were some of Price’s innovations that have involved parents more and more into the rehabilitation of their children.