AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott has named Scott Matthew, the Executive Director and Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of Williamson County Juvenile Services, as the new chair of the Texas Juvenile Justice Board.
Additionally, Abbott appointed Cynthia “Cyndi” Wheless to the board for a term set to expire on Feb. 1, 2027.
The Board’s duty is to develop and implement rules to govern and oversee the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
The appointments come amid a crisis within the Texas juvenile prison system. The Texas Tribune first reported in August the Juvenile Justice Department was under federal investigation for an alleged pattern of abuse and mistreatment. TJJD was severely understaffed, with agency officials saying it was nearing systemic collapse.
Shortly after that, the interim director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department told lawmakers her agency was “unable to serve our youth” with its present resources.
Interim Director Shandra Carter said the issues and the waitlist of more than 140 youth waiting to go to a TJJD facility is entirely due to staffing issues at the five state facilities.
Matthew, of Georgetown, is currently the Executive Director and Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of Williamson County Juvenile Services and is a Magistrate Judge for the cities of Jarrell, Granger, and Bartlett.
He is member emeritus of Project Georgetown and is a former member of the Georgetown Health Foundation Board of Directors. Additionally, he is a member of the Texas Probation Association, Texas State Bar Juvenile Committee, and the Texas Municipal Courts Association.
Matthew also serves on the Advisory Council of the Correctional Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University. Previously, he volunteered on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown and the Children’s Support Coalition.
Wheless, of McKinney, is the Presiding Judge of the 417th District Court in Collin County. She is board certified in Juvenile Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
She previously worked for Haynes and Boone LLP and Wheless & Walker, and as a Mental Health Master, Municipal Judge, and Juvenile Court Referee. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association, and the Collin County Bar Association and a Commissioner of the Judicial Commission on Mental Health.
Wheless is also a founding member of the Collin County Women Lawyers Association, served on the Serenity High School Advisory Board, Collin County Coalition for Mental Health, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Collin County.