Saturday, August 12, 2006

Feds look into Texas Youth Commission problems

Increases in abuse, disgruntled staff, and a Department of Justice investigation all suggest that the Texas Youth Commission is facing some serious problems. Despite claims to the contrary from the agency director, having DOJ open a formal investigation into conditions of confinement in a TYC facility suggests that something is very wrong.

According to a 2004 U.S. News & World Report article full of horrifying stories about young people being brutally neglected and abused in state juvenile detention facilities, Texas isn’t alone in its problems. In fact:
Juvenile justice facilities across the nation are in a dangerously advanced state of disarray, with violence an almost everyday occurrence and rehabilitation the exception rather than the rule. Abuse of juvenile inmates by staff is routine. … "Almost every place is experiencing major problems," says criminologist Barry Krisberg, author of a recent scathing report on the California Youth Authority. "There are cycles of abuse, reform, and abuse, and we are in a cycle of abuse."
In an unusually happy turn of events, the federal government has stepped up to the plate to intervene on behalf of incarcerated young people. Says U.S. News & World Report:
Juvenile lockups typically are the provinces of states, which either run them or pay millions to private contractors to do the job. But the U.S. Department of Justice has recently begun attacking abuses in juvenile facilities in an aggressive way. The feds have active investigations or are monitoring settled cases in juvenile justice systems in 13 states or separate territories. ... And more cases are on the horizon. "We have a full-court press on this," says R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights. Under a 1980 law, his attorneys have the power to investigate and sue to correct a pattern or practice of unlawful conditions at juvenile facilities. The 1994 federal crime act also allows the department to sue when administrators of juvenile justice systems violate kids' rights. The flurry of suits began during the Clinton administration, but John Ashcroft's Justice Department has more than kept up the pace, doubling the number of new investigations. "No one deserves to be treated this way," says Brad Schlozman, deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Clearly, the ongoing DOJ investigation into TYC is part and parcel of the overall federal campaign to improve conditions of confinement in state juvenile corrections facilities. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s about time that the feds come to Texas. Allegations about problems at TYC that have recently surfaced in the local media include:
  • Vicious and violent attacks on inmates by guards. Attacks at the Evins Regional Justice Center in South Texas reportedly led to baseball-sized swelling when a boy's head was used as a battering ram, and temporary blindness when a guard scraped another boy’s face raw against the concrete. Yet another youth alleges that guards cuffed him and left him outside in the sun for several hours on top of an ant nest, where he was bitten hundreds of times.
  • A corrupt complaint and investigation system. Former and current TYC staff claim that they have been asked to change records, lie to inspectors and parents about youth who are injured, and have seen abuse reports and videotapes that document abuse mysteriously disappear
  • Lack of responsiveness to family members’ concerns. Parents have testified before the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues about their children being beaten by staff members, their grievances being ignored, and their children's sentences being unduly extended, even when the youth were serving time for less-than-serious crimes.
My hunch is that where there's this much smoke, there's got to be fire. Like many, I’ll be watching the DOJ's investigation into TYC unfold with great interest.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Poor children. I'm sure those little angels are trying real hard to rehabilitate so they can become productive members of society.

Whatever! TYC is nothing more than pen-prep for these gang infested thugs. Loving and caring hasn't worked, so let's give a good ass kicking a chance. It's the way it used to be when I was a kid and juvenile crime and delinquency were nowhere like it is today.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What a jerk. Or rather, troll.

My kid got mixed up in the criminal justice system for a series of bad decisions that would have been overlooked as youthful exuberance when I was doing the same thing at her age. When I was in school, e.g., fights in the schoolyard where expected rites of passage. Now they´re a ticket to incarceration. I carried a pocketknife to school from the time I was in the 4th or 5th grade, now it would get a kid expelled. In those and many other ways, we've criminalized being a kid.

Bottom line: the only kids who wind up in TYC (at least the ones who aren't outright sociopaths, which is a tiny, tiny minority) are those who don't have any family structure to fall back on. If you have a home to go to and you get in trouble, juvie courts send you home. If your homelife is terrible or non-existent, you wind up in TYC.

I guarantee that's not the way it was when anonymous was a kid. Thanks for the post, Isela, glad to see it.

Rusty said...

Anonymous,
All I can say is, TYPICAL! You reckon if THOSE LIKE YOU, had not manipulated your biases and fear in to laws. There might be " TWO " parents in the home to deal with these kids??? You display the same attitude and mentality as those who justify terrorizing women and children at 3 am in a drug raid, RIGHT! You want to scare them in to believing they have " NO " rights or individual freedoms, so they will live their lives the way YOU DEMAND,RIGHT? So in your way of thinking " SOME " terrorist acts are acceptable, even " a good ass kicking ",IF IT WILL TEACH THEM TO CONFORM, " TO YOUR BELIEFS AS TO HOW OTHERS SHOULD LIVE THEIR LIVES, RIGHT? Forget about the Constitution, Rights, Individual Freedoms, and MINDING YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, WE"LL MAKE THEM BOW TO " YOUR " BELIEFS!!!

What you fail to understand is, they have been getting that good old ASS KICKING FROM BIRTH. From all sides! They have lived the life of a second class citizen, under the double standards and lie of equality and fair and unbiased justices! They watched as their family members come back out of prison, and be forced by " YOUR " BELIEFS back in to the same world that sent them to prison, JUST TO SURVIVE! They watch as those who do try and educate themselves, are stripped of any funding FOR LIFE SIMPLY BECAUSE of others fears and biases! There was a time in this country, kids could be kids, and adults could make mistakes AND DO THEIR TIME AND BE GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE!A time when it was MORALLY WRONG AND UNACCEPTABLE to spy on your friends, family and neighbors! A time when PEOPLE LIKE YOU " COULD NOT " OVERRIDE OTHERS RIGHTS TO INDIVIDUAL FREEDOMS TO FORCE YOUR BIASES AND BELIEFS ON OTHERS!!! A time those of faith KNEW IT WAS WRONG to force their beliefs on others, or to claim special status above " ANYBODY " because of their faith! You want it to be as it was when you were a kid, THEN change the laws back the way they were! Teach people to MIND THEIR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, hold people accountable for their actions not their personal choices! Take your bias and fear AND YOU DEAL WITH IT! Don’t use it as an excuse to force your beliefs on others!!!

Today as we watch the home invasions escalate, as we see our young killing others and themselves and going crazy because of having no hope nor future. Just remember who created the policy that destroys the family, SO YOU CAN WATCH IT ON TV, as they get that good old " ASS KICKING "!

Violence IS A TWO WAY STREET, and has " NEVER " been the answer! Be careful what you ask for, these same people getting their ASS KICKING " WILL BE LET OUT SOMEDAY "! And they will use the taught hate and anger “ AND “ the same method to seek justice and revenge AS YOU DID ON THEM!!! IMPO!WHERE DOES IT STOP?????

There has got to be a better way!!!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it, let's provide them with a mommy and daddy at taxpayers expense.

Boo hoo, the fact that they were born as second class citizens does not entitle them to act like baboons or excuse criminal behavior. I understand that they haven't had the proper upbringing, but if you're acting out in TYC, then you're obviously not rehabing your life. Which to my way of thinking is as much a waste of tax dollars as is the war on drugs.

They are the dreggs of society and should be dealt with that way. If they don't want to be a member of society and turn their life around with the programs available, that's fine. There's three hots and a cot waiting for them at the TDCJ.

And I'll gladly fund that with my tax dollars!

Rusty said...

anonymous,

In some cases you are 100% correct! But the issue here is about accountability and abuse of power by those in control at TYC. To many people don't understand what this world is REALLY LIKE in there. Rape and assaults are everyday occurrences, and when those in authority, look the other way or use these thing for a reason to abuse people, ALL RESPECT for authority is lost! Sure, don't do the crime if you can't do the time, RIGHT! But a young man should not have to take another’s life to protect himself, thereby getting life in prison.

When I worked death row and admin. seg. as well as the main yard, I got a long with the majority of the inmates. Because I was fair, firm and consistent showing no favoritism nor prejudices! An officers job IS NOT TO PUNISH anybody, enforce the laws and rules of the institution and let the inmates actions dictate who receive punishment. And the with the least amount of force needed, anything else IS WRONG!

Again if there were two parents in the home this situation wouldn't be as bad as it is.

There has got to be a better way!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

I work for a TYC facility and I can tell you there is inappropriate happenings from both sides of the fences. On the inside you do have corrupt staff, however it starts at the top of the food chain. We also have out of control children. Some of which need harsher punishments but the goverment says no becaus ethey are children. TYC in my opinion needs to be broken up into better divisions. Right now the only seperation is male or female. As a staff memeber at a local facility in my dorm I have everything from murders to rapist to probation violators. They need to be seperated and given different rules and guidelines. Some of my children just needed love and structure and others needed bars on the doors. I love my job and fight everyday with staff and student alike to better these children's lives. To parents of children in TYC fight for your children and their rehabilitaion. For parents lucky enough that their children are not in TYC yet. Keep them out of here. Love them and teach. God gave these children to us to guide them and in some aspects the goverment has taken away the ability to give discipline to these children. Love them

Hope said...

Anonymous at 10:18

It's good to know that there's someone like you there for the children there.

Does no one care enough about them to keep the truly dangerous among them away from the less dangerous ones?

It sounds like the less dangerous ones are being thrown to the lions! If they survive, they'll only be meaner and full of more hatred and actually more dangerous when they are released than when they were first put there.

I hope you are successful at getting some changes done around there, for the children's sake and the sake of society.

More power and grace to you!

Rusty said...

hope,

See there are some trying to do the right thing, but they are up against a stacked deck. It does my heart good to hear this office talk the truth! Many feel like those getting abused have it coming, not realizing the long term effects. I will not scare you with the stories from the 70's about first time young offenders being thrown in maximum with LIFERS. Or how many who went for a small crime and wound up getting life, just for protecting themselves from being raped or killed!

The only thing that will turn this around, is a law suite, one that gets in to their pocket big time! A wrongful death or a gang rape should be looked at VERY SERIOUSLY! As a norm I don't like law suites but this is the ONLY thing these people will react to! Throw some of those who have been abusing inmates, IN WITH THE ONES they used to abuse, who have now grown up and see justice take it's course!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

My son is headed for TYC. He's afraid to go. He's heard about the violence and he's not a violent child. He doesn't want to have to fight everyday to stay alive in there. I am afraid for him. We don't know of any other options. He wants to run away but now knows there is nowhere to run to. He had a drug problem whcih he was court ordered to attend Narcotics Anonymous for. I think he should have been taken out of school and admitted to a drug rehab program but the court wanted him to continue school. He continued drugs and now faces TYC.
I am scared to death but don't know of any alternative.

Anonymous said...

My son is currently at TYC-Marlin. He's only been there a month, has been on his best behavior according to his case worker. However, his case worker did mention to me that she was concerned about his "attitude". I asked her what kind of attitude. She replied, he's just not happy. Well, I don't know of any human being that would be happy to be incarcerated. DAH! My son earned a call to home the other day, only to find out that a female member of the staff hit him in the face/head 3 times because he lost a point while playing volley ball. This is a bunch of crap, and I am outraged. My son has never assaulted anyone. What is the TYC teaching our kids about violence if they cannot even hire non-violent professionals. Good message. We might as well have left some of those kids alone - I am sure some of their parents were already violent enough.

My kid should not be there in the first place. I'm sure many parents/families feel that way about their kids at the TYC.

The Texas Prison system is corrupt, our judicial system is corrupt, and it's clearly not working.

I agree with some of the other postings...our kids don't go to the principle's office anymore - they see a school cop, get a ticket, and maybe go to jail. They have to pay big fines, do community service...blah, blah, blah! And, as parents, we miss time from work. It's rediculous.

In my day, if we took our parents cars without permission and got caught by police, they would take us home and tell our parents. Same thing with fights on the school yard or smoking in the girls room.

We are becoming a society of intollerance for children's, and teenager's behavior, much which is "normal". My kid is not violent, not a sex-offender, not a murderer. He's just a goofy, hyperactive kid that can somtimes be mischevious. He's experimented with pot and booze just like we all did. He's not a TYC for that B. S., though. He's no different than his own father, my father, his brothers, or even my Grand Dad. They all did some pretty stupid stuff when they were kids - some very dagerous. There were gang wars in the 50's, and yes a lot of kids got hurt or even killed. My son just makes a lot of bad choices.

I know a lot has changed over the years, but many of these kids are just trying to grow up. How, as adults, can we expect perfection from our kids, when most of us are pretty screwed up ourselves.

Most of the kids at TYC may come from poor and/or broken homes. It's not their fault they are poor or from a broken home, and that does not excuse any illegal behavior.

I grew up poor, and from a broken home but I was never in any trouble with the law. I probably could have been a couple of times.

Kids from affluent families usually do not end up in places like TYC because: Their parents have the money to send them to out of state schools, drug rehab centers, and fancy, expensive lawyers.

I'm willing to bet that most kids had court appointed attorneys (perhaps 85 to 90%). These court appointed attorneys don't give a shit about these kids. They get paid regardless if they win or lose. They lose most of the time because they normally plea the kids out, and the kid never has his/her "DAY IN COURT". The juvenille courts are just a big dog and pony show. I cannot tell you how many of those attorney's I see at the liquor store where my sister works. So, it's okay for them to be alcoholics, but the kids they represent or defend cannot. Many adults of today are not good role models or leaders!

I find it interesting that the great state of Texas does not list court appointed vs. hire gun stat in their statistal data sheets posted on the TYC website.

I also noticed that children's grievences are not mentioned, nor the deaths of our Texas teens while at TYC. How many deaths are suicides, killed by other kids, killed by staff, etc.? And, what about the education of most of the staff members. Many of them only have to have a GED, so many hours in Child Care classes, etc. So, we have thrown our kids into a class of people that have no business "raising our kids" in the first place.

So, YOU THAT HAVE NO EMPATHY ON THE LITTLE THUGS BETTER THINK AGAIN. MOST OF THEM ARE NOT THUGS. MANY OF THESE KIDS HAVE EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS. QUIT BEING SO QUICK TO JUDGE...YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW THESE KIDS. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY DESERVE TO BE AT TYC OR NOT - YOU HAVE NOT WALKED IN THEIR SHOES. ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT THESE KIDS ARE NOT ABUSEDE, AND THEY ARE NOT IN CONSTANT FEAR OF THEIR LIFE BECAUSE OF THE "THUG WORKERS".

WHY DON'T YOU GET YOUR ASS OUT THERE AND DO SOME VOLUNTEER WORK TO HELP THESE KIDS, AND PERHAPS THE VERY BURNED OUT STAFF.

YOU THAT HAVE NO MERCY, OBVIOUSLY DO NOT HAVE KIDS, AND HAVE NOT A CLUE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A KID IN 2006.

THE LEADERS OF OUR STATE, AND PERHAPS THE COUNTRY HAVE A "ZERO TOLERANCE" FOR ANY TYPE OF "INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR". IT MAY BE THIS WAY FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS. THEIR MISSION..."WE'LL INCARCERATE THESE BABIES NOW SO WE WON'T HAVE TO WHEN THEY'RE OLDER".

West Texas Beat said...

July 14, 2006
Out of more than 1,000 juveniles Abilene police took into custody last year, four were certified as adults including two who allegedly were involved in homicides. Juan Manuel Albarado, 16, and Moshe Turner, 15, both were certified as adults for their alleged involvement in homicides last summer. Prosecutor Harriet Haag said two other juveniles, whose cases are still pending, also were certified for aggravated sexual assault for their involvement in what Haag called a ''gang-rape.'' Over the last five years, 10 juveniles were certified as adults. Taylor County District Attorney James Eidson said the low number is typical. Eidson said whether a juvenile is certified depends on a variety of factors. First, the district attorney's office must decide whether the case warrants the certification. Eidson said prosecutors examine a slew of information pertaining to the individual before they decide to attempt to get a certification granted. Prosecutors look at the type of offense, the child's background, the likelihood of rehabilitation, criminal history, level of sophistication, and an evaluation from probation officers. The presiding judge in juvenile court makes the final decision to certify the juvenile or not based on criteria outlined in the Texas Family Code. The hearing must be conducted without a jury. The juvenile court must obtain a complete diagnostic study, social evaluation and a full investigation of the child, his circumstances and the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense. After a child is certified to stand trial as an adult, the minor's case is transferred from the juvenile system to the adult system. The juvenile also is physically transferred from the Juvenile Detention Center to the Taylor County Jail. Once transferred to the adult system for criminal proceedings, the juvenile potentially faces a more severe punishment. Moshe Turner, arrested and charged with capital murder a year ago in connection with a shooting that left Stewart Jason Wofford, 18, dead, would have been facing a maximum punishment of 40 years behind bars. According to Reporter-News files, County Court-at-Law 2 Judge Barbara Rollins said during the certification hearing that she based her ruling to transfer the case to the adult system on testimony from the prosecution's witnesses. Three witnesses, including an Abilene Police Department officer, a clinical psychologist, and Turner's probation officer, testified during the hearing and recommended the case be transferred to the adult judicial system. ''The actions being described ... are all adult actions,'' Rollins told Turner last year. ''You're being treated like an adult by your family by not educating you. You think you are above the juvenile system. I don't have any other viable option.'' Now that he's been certified, Turner could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison. Turner is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 25. Juan Albarado was arrested and charged with murder in connection with a shooting that left 24-year-old Joe Louis Carrion dead in May 2005. Albarado is expected to stand trial in October. Another juvenile, who has not been named due to his age, was charged with murder and stood trial last month. He was not tried as an adult. Although the juvenile was charged with murder, the jury in the case found that the boy committed manslaughter and he was sentenced to serve 20 years of incarceration. Haag said the abused boy who shot his father was not certified because of circumstances that the district attorney's office knew about. Several details about the boy's family history were revealed during the trial. ''Our job is to do justice and if a case requires certification, then we will certify,'' Haag said. Haag said she considers whether a child can be rehabilitated when determining whether to certify. According to Haag, the juvenile system focuses more on rehabilitation than the adult system does. She said she would rather get juveniles the help the Texas Youth Commission offers. ''We need to try to get them help so that when they re-enter society, they're law-abiding employable people,'' she said. Juveniles certified as adults 2001-2002: 3: All three were white males charged with arson. 2003-2004: 3: Two were charged with aggravated sexual assault and another with aggravated assault. All three were black males. 2005: 4: One Hispanic male was charged with murder and a black male with capital murder. Two others, one white and one black, were both charged with aggravated sexual assault. 2006: none so far Felony classifications Felonies are classified by severity, with capital felonies being the most severe followed by first, second, and third-degree felonies. Capital felonies are punishable by death or life imprisonment. First-degree felonies are punishable by confinement for life or a term from five to 99 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000. Example: aggravated sexual assault of a child Second-degree felonies are punishable by confinement for a term of from two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000. Example: robbery Third-degree felonies are punishable by confinement for a term of from two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000. Example: kidnapping State-jail felonies are punishable by confinement for a term of from 180 days to two years in a state jail and an optional fine of up to $10,000. Example: credit card abuse Source: Texas District and County Attorneys Associationx92s Quick Law 2005
According to law The Family Code says the juvenile court may transfer a child to the appropriate court for criminal proceedings if: The child allegedly committed a felony and
The juvenile court determines there is reason to believe the child committed the alleged offense and because of the seriousness of the alleged crime or the childx92s background, the welfare of the community merits criminal proceedings. There also are age requirements outlined in the code.
Juveniles 14 years old or older can be certified as an adult if they allegedly committed a capital felony, an aggravated controlled substance felony or a first degree felony. A juvenile 15 years old or older who allegedly committed a second- or third-degree felony or a state jail felony also can be certified as an adult. Source: Texas Family Code

July 17, 2006

EYE'S WIDE OPEN

Incarcerating The Minority, The Youth, The Child is running rampant thru out America with all eyes’ open. My name is Juan Manuel Albarado I am 17 year’s old I am currently Incarcerated in Taylor County Jail Abilene, Texas awaiting trial on a Murder charge and Escape. The youth of today are being raised by a dysfunctional society whether it is the parents caught in a cycle of abuse or our Countries Leader’s filtering children thru the Adult Criminal Justice System, where there is no hope of rehabilitation. True enough here in America we are given the opportunity of an education but the discrimination towards the minority has lead American Schools to teach us and program us as “Children at Risk” the Institutionalizing of the minority is beginning within the School System where a Jr High School Classroom full of minorities sitting in a Alternative School for “Kids at Risk” are made to watch “American Me” instead of Educating us. Where is the Justice in this System The Abilene Reporter News ran an Article on Trying Juveniles as Adults on July 14, 2006. The article according to Harriet Hagg whom works for the District Attorney James Eidson, specifically stated that the Juvenile System focuses more on rehabilitation than the adult system does. She said she would rather get juveniles the help the Texas Youth Commission offers, We need to try to get them help so that when they re-enter society, they’re law-abiding employable people,” she said. Therefore knowing all the statistical facts that are being conducted thru-out Americas most prestige’s Colleges that shows the residual effects are failing. The mental, physical, psychological effects of growing up in the Adult Criminal Justice System is deteriorating our society It is a known fact that one whom is tortured in such way’s learn to hate therefore where is the rehabilitation that is required on individual’s whom are being returned to the community and are expected to be a successful, employable member of society. This truly is CRUEL and UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT upon the youth of today the majority being minorities. Regardless of how mature and sophisticated a juvenile is this does not make them an adult. The brain is not fully developed, why keep sending the youth into adult prisons where violence and hatred run ramped. Suicide and rape amongst the young that are incarcerated with adults is at an all time high. This cruel environment is where the youth’s brain must finish developing and the results are hardened criminals. Our Leader’s can prevent this by not sending the youth into Adult Facilities. Keeping the Juveniles in the Juvenile System where there is a much higher chance of receiving rehabilitation. Abilene Texas proves once again that the minority youth are being sent into the Adult Prisons. In 2005 two out of the three juveniles charged with murder were certified, and all had a history of abuse, the two that were certified were minorities and the one that was left in the Juvenile System was Caucasian. I feel all youth should be given a chance of rehabilitation just as the Caucasian youth. To all the youth that are currently incarcerated in Adult Facilities, we must speak-up and ask our Leader’s to stop certification of all youth for the sake of America. Sincerely Juan Manuel Albarado

Anonymous said...

Just because these children are the worst of the worst and the dreggs of society, it is still no reason to abuse them. The two gay pedophiles should not be glorified by saying the raping of the boys were justified.

Anonymous said...

All i know if i did this i would be in jail,the state is doing a cover up,so somebody would not be EMBARRASSED.My view.

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