AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Authorities are looking into about 300 new inmate complaints of abuse within the state’s juvenile prisons and halfway houses, with about 70 involving some sort of sexual contact, the probe’s chief investigator said Monday.

Jay Kimbrough said law enforcement officials who were sent to all 22 Texas Youth Commission prisons and halfway houses and agency headquarters last week returned Monday to continue their work.

Kimbrough was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to lead the probe as state leaders scramble to deal with claims of sexual abuse of inmates by employees and possible cover-ups within the agency’s administration.

The new complaints cover a “wide variety” of issues, ranging from those involving sexual contact to a case of excessive force at a Beaumont facility that investigators believe is worthy of criminal charges, Kimbrough said.

The Beaumont case, which happened within the last year and had previously been closed, was reopened by investigators and will be turned over to the local district attorney.

Kimbrough said he made suprise visits to youth prisons in Crockett and Corsicana and plans to go to all TYC facilities. He met with some inmates and parents who raised questions about medical care at the facilities.

In one case, the mother of a male inmate complained her son had not been given his psychotropic medication while waiting several days to get his prescription filled. Kimbrough said he ordered officers to drive to a pharmacy to pick up the drugs.

In another case, a female inmate said she had been waiting for weeks to get an X-ray of an injured foot. Kimbrough said the foot was obviously swollen when she showed it to him.

AP-ES-03-12-07 2216EDT

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