HOUSTON – A semi-secure correctional facility that houses convicted criminals on probation, some with a history of violence, is not classified as a jail or prison and does not have guards or police officers.
The issue is in the news because of two recent incidents that happened after residents of “Young Men About Change,” absconded.
On Monday morning, two men, Vincent Canady, 19, and Jabari Davis, 18, were charged with felony kidnapping and auto theft. Canady and Davis recently walked out of “YMAC,” as it is known, and went on a crime spree, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. The wild evening allegedly included stealing a car and kidnapping a baby.
Last week, another resident who left the facility, Anthony Washington, 18, was shot by a police officer while he tried to rob a northeast Harris County Walmart.
Canady, Davis, and Washington have a history of serious violent crimes, yet their sentences included probation housing at “YMAC.”
A source with knowledge of the probation system in Harris County said that more dangerous people are ending up in probation housing because of changing attitudes in who should be jailed and imprisoned.
“YMAC is a community correction treatment facility where individuals can be ordered as a condition of probation. It is a treatment facility. It is not a jail or prison and is not staffed by law enforcement officers or corrections officers like a jail or prison. While the facility is locked, the staff cannot physically restrain a probationer attempting to leave the facility. If a defendant leaves without permission he/she/they can be charged with a State Jail Felony,” Jeff McShan, a spokesperson for Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department, said.