Friday, March 16, 2007

DoJ report: TYC kids not safe

Who do you believe on the question of whether kids sent to TYC are safe? The new executive director who's been there a little over a week, or federal investigators who've been examining a single facility for months?

TexasJustice.Org has posted online the March 15 report from the Civil Rights Division of the USDoJ on the Texas Youth Commission, focusing on the Evins Unit in South Texas - the report is 14 pages long and interesting reading if you're interested in TYC's deeper problems beyond alleged pedophile administrators in West Texas.

Bottom line, despite what new TYC Czar Ed Owens recently told the Legislature, DoJ found that: "children confined at Evins are not adequately protected from harm."

UPDATE: More light beditme reading! TDJO late Friday posted Owens' new "rehabilitation plan" for TYC, and here's a copy of a new state auditor's report on TYC, also released Friday. The Houston Chronicle briefly overviews them both.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The report highlights problems at TYC from Sept. 2006 as far back as 2004. How many years did it take the "Justice" system to resolve the RUIZ case of Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Texas? Years. The problem with Youngsters is we don't have years. Many young lives can be destroyed if something isn't done quickly. Clearly more staff and training are needed. That takes money! The Legislature needs to act now to come up with the money to take chare of these despirately needy children.

If these kids aren't worth saving, why does the report highlight the fact that some of them actually recognize good work done by some of the JCO staff?

Anonymous said...

With regard to the Evins situation and the DOJ report: oh, how timely for the DOJ to just now drop their two cents in. Politics at its best.

If you do your research, TYC didn't ask for much in the past two-three Legislative Action Requests taken before the LBB. Reason? Back then, we didn't want to be on the radar. But when we posted this years "monster request," we were the radar. I blame this on the thinking of TYC executives back then (many of which have moved on).... as I'd rather be a blip on the radar than share the whole radar with TXDOT.

Here’s the lesson new horn: do more with what you have and don't dare ask for any more.

Just dig and you'll see. We have never asked for as many JCO's in the history of the agency. It's what happens when you put off your needs until you are eligible to retire. Eh-hem. Dwight Harris?

Many of us were shaking our heads back then, but are now staring at the floor. However, I don't see a floor beneath me, which means we must be....... (Fill in the blank here). Get it??

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not exactly like the legislature was handing out money right and left in prior sessions...one of the funniest moments of this entire debacle was hearing one of the legislators lie through their teeth and tell some TYC execs that if they had just asked for more money for more JCOs (and to be exempted from the mandatory cuts in agency budgets) the lege would have said yes. What utter horseshit.

Yes, it would have been nice if they had really asked for what the agency needed. But they weren't going to get it anyway...because we weren't on the radar. Nice vicious circle that. Quite frustrating for those of us who knew just exactly how understaffed the agency was/is.

And I would be willing to put down money that as soon as TYC isn't on the front page every day...the lege will stop caring again...and the money won't be put into TYC to really fix things...it happens every session. Lots of grandstanding...very little actually done to solve problems. I would LOVE to just this once be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

And I couldn't agree more... money wasn't there, but we still should have been more vocal about the needs and be on the record...we are now facing what the DHS (CPS) was facing last session.

We do have some very intelligent young bloods in TYC right now that have learned from our predecessors mistakes. A very good example is both bloggers above me @ 7:32 and 8:04.

Why would you ever want to bring the principals of TDCJ into TYC? The biggest mistake we made was removing prevention of delinquency from this agency as we had very, and I mean VERY qualified individuals running that shop.

It looks like the TYC will start a warehousing approach as does TDCJ, forget efforts to resocialize, and protection of the community. Do time and go is what I’m seeing in the rehab plan. God Bless Texas.

Anonymous said...

TYC would have lots of money if all the money was not spent on salaries in Central Office. Over a million dollars! They need more than "shaking" up!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind words. :)

I think the understaffing and the inability to rehabilitate kids go hand in hand. The JCO staff don't have time anymore to really interact with the kids and build any kind of relationship with them. There are too many kids per JCO and things are too chaotic (or too overcontrolled - the 16 hour day doesn't really lend itself to much time to just talk to the kids). The staff have to focus all their energy on keeping control and they don't have time to really work with the kids anymore. And then we wonder why really good long-time staff are leaving...they didn't sign on to be a combination of jailer and babysitter...they were doing the job because they believed they were helping the kids. And now, like many of us, they wonder if that's true anymore.

Same thing with the Case Managers (we're also woefully understaffed for them as well...no way in the world they can do their job well with the number of kids on most caseloads). The Case Managers don't have time to spend one-on-one with the kids and they certainly don't have time to get to everyone in group. And then we wonder why it takes the kids so long to get through the phases.

If the kids don't find some adult in the facility that they can develop some sort of trusting relationship with then rehabilitating them is practically impossible.

I have to say...it's been nice to find this site and a place where I can talk about all of this with other folks who are dealing with it from the inside as well.

Anonymous said...

The fact that the DOJ report came out TODAY - 4 to 6 weeks earlier than planned - would really be funny if it weren't so damn obvious. Please.

If you aren't blind or naive, you saw the writing on this wall a week ago.

I agree w/ the preceding commentary, and I admit to being glad that these people have finally found their voices. This story has been controlled by those pulling the purse strings for 3 weeks now, and it's enough.

I will say that w/ regard to moving towards a 'do your time and go' approach, I don't really have a problem with that, because it's quite obvious to those that were willing to admit it that that was ALREADY happening w/ a certain portion of the population. They weren't 'getting' it, they never would (for whatever reason), and were just 'doing time', and a lot of it.

So big deal. Counties are going to be tasked with actually KEEPING their misdemeanants, car thiefs, etc., rather than just shipping them off to never-neverland (gawd, no pun intended!) TYC will get the worst of the worst that they weren't helping anyway, the power of the fiefdoms has been severely limited, 'resocialization' has been smacked with reality.....and the beat goes on.

I really just hope that the board finally resigning is a big enough wound to Perry that the lege will be satisfied they've delivered a decisive blow, and those of us that have survived can get back to the business of taking care of the kids and staff!!

OH, and by the way...can somebody PLEASE get around to finally arresting the two creeps that triggered this whole mess to begin with?? You know...some time between finger printing all the current employees and 'escorting' staff to the polygraph room?

Cuz, you know, that would be great. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 9:53...you have no clue what you're talking about. I work in central office and I can guarandamntee you most of us aren't pulling down the big bucks. Hell, I'm stressing right now because my 14 year old car is about to die and after 10 years at TYC in a professional position I still don't make enough money to really be able to afford a car payment even on a used car. So bite me.

At $30,000 a year, $1,000,000 only gets you 33 people.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 10:02...I don't know about you but I feel oh so much better since Ed emailed me to let me know how vital fingerprinting everyone is, whether we have youth contact or not, to make sure that "TYC is making changes that will not only improve the safety of our staff and the youth in our care, but will also reassure the citizens of Texas that we are doing everything we can to provide the highest quality services possible."

I think that last part is what it's all about. It isn't about actually making the kids safer...it's about making it look like the agency is doing something. Whether that something actually makes sense or works doesn't seem to really matter.

Oh...and polygraph? Please tell me I didn't miss something. *snort* What's next, Jack Bauer shining a bright light in my eyes and suffocating me with a ziplock baggie? *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

ok 10:04 obviosly I am not talking about you. I am talking about manangement and up and the employees sitting at home on suspension WITH pay. They should just terminate them and move on.

Anonymous said...

Well seems like its all coming clear now! Pay employees fair and staff enough positions so we can actually do the jobs we were hired to do. Maybe the lege and TDCJ should be able to figure the big problem out now!! We have adult probation and TYC all screaming the same thing but they continue to develop different bills and committes- while ignoring the most basic problem!!!

Anonymous said...

anon at 10:15...one of the nice things about being a state employee is that we actually have rights. We have the right to due process before we are terminated. This may slow the process down...but all in all it is a GOOD thing and something all employees in all sectors of the economy deserve. It stops managers from being able to fire people on a whim for no reason at all.

The people who were suspended have the right to have the process respected. If we don't respect due process with our staff then we cannot expect them to model due process when dealing with the youth.

And do you know which managers specifically deserve to just be summarily fired? How far down the chain? Can you just look at someone and tell whether they were actively involved in covering things up or not? Or would you have to take a little time and investigate to figure out who deserved to get the boot and who deserved to stay?

dwts said...

It looks like TYC employees have taken over Grit's blog!

To anon at 10:13 -- it would be really nice if those two perverts were arrested, wouldn't it? Maybe they could also get fingerprinted!

Anonymous said...

OMG... I just looked in the mirror and saw a shadow. Does that mean I'm a "silo??" My kids are looking for me but can’t see me, BUT THEY HEAR me! Please, someone throw some paint on me! AHHHH!

Why did no one stand up to that? I mean the “executive council” agreed that silos exist, but yet not one of them would identify themselves or anyone else as a “silo?” If Mr. Owens comment in his report regarding the “silos” is correct, then by their silence, and by default, they just identified themselves as silos. I know they’re afraid, but they’re failing to look beyond themselves and consequently, their “unheard” subordinates. That is very damaging.

If Mr. Owens is “acting E.D.,” then I question whether it’s wise for him to be making serious personnel decisions. I say, lets get the real deal in before we go there…

dwts said...

to anon at 8:14 am --- do you know what a "silo" is? I was somewhat confused by a lack of a definition in the plan. And, maybe I read it too quickly, but did you see any "employee forums" on the to do list?

Anonymous said...

time for the gold ol' boy system to be busted!!!!!!! you get raises at TYC by who you know not based on your performance. There are some smart people there but believe me they are not making the decisions or the money, the auditors should review that. Maybe someone should send them all these blogs.........

Anonymous said...

Ed starts off the rehabilitation plan with a lie...he says he listened attentively to the concerns of staff. Well, I work in central office and I haven't even seen Ed yet, much less had a chance to discuss my concerns with him. (And I want to know how he believes he's listened to field staff when he later notes he's been to ONE of the troubled facilities.)

Frankly, pretty much everything I've learned about what the agency has been doing (or having done to it) in the last few weeks has come from the newspaper and the blogs. Executive management isn't talking to staff that I can see...not about our concerns and not about what the agency is doing. We're mushrooms...keep us in the dark and feed us manure.

Anonymous said...

This statement made my blood curdle:

"No one individual or group of individuals stepped forward to obtain a temperature of what was happening in the field," Mr. Owens' report says.

"The systems that they developed failed the children they serve."

Sir, either you are misinformed or making a rush to judgment.

Here’s just one example: when you send in about 30-40 staff across this state to do these "One Team" audits, which is the most comprehensive audits this agency has ever done, those statements are irresponsible at best.

These audits take on average five days to complete and they cover almost every single aspect of institutional life, specifically rehabilitation services, health care services, nutrition, education, facility conditions (physical plant), staff moral, human resources, youth rights and so forth. When there are findings, there are mandated responses through intensive process improvement plans (PIPs) that address the deficiencies and call for corrective action. Those reviews are done by experts in their discipline, and it is simply impossible to overlook glaring deficiencies.

There's your thermostat big guy. Take a look at that process and tell me we have no thermostat.

I know there are more examples, but I’ll let the others out there vent.

I really want to give Mr. Owens a chance, but he really ought to take a closer look at what we have been doing in this regard, and most certainly before he writes something as irresponsible as that and sends it to our Governor. I hate to say it, but there are some pretty valuable, intelligent and responsible people in Central Office who have nothing but the best interest of those kids in mind, that are about to leave if this continues. We know we need to tweak and make changes that will produce results, but it would simply be horrific if we turn this agency into a brutal regime similar to that of TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

GIVEM HELL TYC EMPLOYEES THEY DESERVE IT!!!!!
We will help any way we can- any ideas on how we can help????

From: Your counterparts in this sucky TDCJ system.

Anonymous said...

You can put a carrot on a stick and lure Mr. Ed back to Huntsville where he can reunite with his TDCJ Board Member wife, and face his past (Sammy B - who put a whole new meaning to "gang bang"). That's what TDCJ can do for us.

Anonymous said...

"One Team" reviews are great, except...they are new, they take a lot of time, they didn't stop/catch what was going on at West Texas, they can't/don't address the systemic cultural issues (that by all appearances are the root of the problem), they can't address the fact that the plan is right, there IS too much power on a local level at these facilities...and if anyone thinks Owens, or Kimbrough, or the SAO, or the IGs, or Perry or ANYBODY is going to sit in front of the lege and tell them and the cameras "um, yeah, that was a problem? But it's totally been fixed now. ONE TEAM!" they are really kidding themselves.

That might have worked a month ago. We are waaay beyond that point now.

I have no doubt that people have really good, true, honest intentions for the youth and staff in our care. But I also think that we do a detriment to ourselves if we don't accept the reality of the situation we are in right now and address it accordingly.

The lege wants blood. Hopefully, Perry's given them enough that we can move forward now...

Anonymous said...

Why in the world did Gov. Perry put Ed Owens over children? TDCJ just paid off a very large lawsuit and he was named as the prime reason for the lawsuit for not reporting sexual assaults. And this man is going to be over children? What is Perry snorting? He has made some stupid mistakes but this is by far one of the worse. This is far worse than the coal plants, the toll road and some that we probably don't even know about.

Ed and Rissie should both be fired and they worked in the same area? Well, guess what one of the Warden's husband is OIG and would be allowed to investigate anything that was reported where she works. What a sick mess Texas is in and why not get rid of the mess and start over, start with the biggest mess the Governor.

Anonymous said...

Ok, enough is enough. This is Edward Owens and you grit folks deserve answers and the truth if I am going to run for governor.

Fist off let me say that the position as head of the TYC was available to me when Rick lost an “all in” at the last poker game we had at our house, I won, I am now in charge. Period. Also, my wife Rissie, will be the next non elected Lieutenant Governor after I win the election; a side deal we both made with Rick at the Ruth’s Chris over steaks and cocktails.

So, I am now the leader of TYC. I will control all media content and employees. I will not have to answer to any boards or to any committees or to any news media on the objectives I set forth (I learned this from Rissie first hand!) We will be the next Texas first family. Texas proud first, Texas well being second.

Good night and there is nothing you commoners can do about it.

Anonymous said...

hahahhaha way to go..........have some fun with all this bull...Good luck TYC employees this week. Maybe your leadership will talk to you this week........ wait they might be too busy trying to see who to blame. I feel for the hard honest good workers that are at TYC they are the "one team".