Monday, March 19, 2007

TYC news pouring in, TDCJ could use similar scrutiny

We've now reached a stage in the Texas Youth Commission debacle where the troubled agency is essentially the target of a media feeding frenzy. It's gone from a backwater hardly noticed, even on this blog, to the top criminal justice story in the state. (I'd ranked abuse at juvie prisons only the 5th biggest criminal justice story of 2006.) For the past several weeks, though, it seemed at times like this blog focused nearly exclusively on TYC, and more media probably have covered the agency than have examined it in the last decade.

Looking around the statewide media this morning, I find yet more great coverage of the Texas Youth Commission saga:
However, I link to these TYC stories with the following caveat: similar problems, or worse, could be discovered in TDCJ's adult prisons, for those who dare to look. What's more, journalists pursuing that angle wouldn't have a dozen other reporters hot on their heels while they investigate it, either. Two critical similarities between TYC and TDCJ are described in these two articles, understaffing and the problem of prison rape:
The TYC story is far from over; the same tales at TDCJ have barely begun to be told.

UPDATE: I just noticed this post from The Back Gate similarly arguing that TDCJ and TYC suffer from essentially the same problems.

3 comments:

sunray's wench said...

Its a strange dichotomy, in that with Juvies they are 'children' that we all (or at least most) feel we should be protecting, guiding etc, and yet as they turn 18/21 and move into TDCJ they become inmate scum that deserve to be there because obviously they are dangerous hardened criminals and our streets are safer without them. How does this change happen between one day (17 years 364 days old) and the next (18 years and one day)?

Without wanting to sound flippant, protecting children is worthy, good for the soul, buys you credits with whatever Heaven you're aiming at. Supporting older inmates is seen as being foolhardy, a waste of time, money and effort, and misinformed.

TDCJ wont get the same kind of scrutiny from the press that TYC is having now. The investigation at Darrington Unit is media-worthy, imo, yet I dont see anyone except The Back Gate covering it. There are big issues in individual TDCJ units on all kinds of heavy handed and contradictory rules, and because the Warden's voice is law, there is no way of challenging them or even getting clear answers to why the rules are there in the first place. The one word answer of "Security" just doesnt cover it.

I'm really glad that TYC is facing such attention, and maybe things will change for the better because of it. But it wont make much difference to the kids in TYC that move on to TDCJ in a couple of years time.

Con-Care said...

Well, sunnray's wench is right on target. As I did read the summaries of recommendations for TYC improvements by state auditor John Keel and others, I was struck by the fact that all recommends could apply to TDCJ. With very few expections, our units are run by "warden law" with little or no regard for TDCJ stated rules and policies. Unprofessional behavior flourishes, and destroys any hope of rehabilitating the incarcerated.

Anonymous said...

If you want ideas for bills; try these, stop transferring Inmates who are released back to Huntsville. Release them from the unit they are in. Look at the diesel that will be saved and the buses are old and remember the one that turned over the one that burned and the guard that was going to let those men burn to death! Release them from the unit they are in, let their loved ones pick them up there and stop wasting money and causing more grief to Inmates and their loved ones.

Also, return good time and work time and add it to the time spent in house. Then the BPP could not keep the units full and they would not have to make such a hard decision and whether to give a person back some sort of life or continue to punish the whole family. The bill that is going to pass is to give the good time back to Inmates if they commit an offense while in house, but upon leaving, they are forced to sign it back to the State and still serve the remaining parole, also there would not be the prison over capacity there is now. This was changed in the '90's and whoever did this should be horse whipped or have to spend the hot months in a prison and learn what it is like.