Saturday, June 23, 2007

Changed, but not fixed: Locals struggle with new TYC law consequences

First, the good news for county juvenile justice systems: The Houston Chronicle reports today ("TYC law puts Harris County in tight spot") that:
The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission will seek its board's approval in July to provide $57 million over two years to counties that detain or treat youths formerly held by TYC.
Now the bad news: Nobody knows if that's enough, the money won't come immediately and the effects of the new law - particularly disallowing placement of misdemeanants at TYC - are already impacting counties.

Even so, the Chronicle article is filled with speculative naysaying by people who opposed the legislation in the first place, so to me much of the whining about the impossible situation Harris County is in must be taken with a grain of salt. We're not talking about that many kids in the scheme of a 3.5 million person county.

Bottom line: The law is what it is and will remain that way for at least two years, probably longer. I'd suggest local officials stop complaining about it - the legislative session is over - and start seeking solutions instead of saying it can't be done. TYC has stopped accepting misdemeanants, the state is going to provide resources, and the fact is, it MUST be done.

13 comments:

whitsfoe said...

Harris County is just gonna have to change its way of thinking. We get more commitments from that county than any other county in Texas. They also have more people sent to prison than any other county. I can tell you right now, we are 500 away from meeting the goal of capping TYC at 2500, and that's gonna happen here shortly folks with the discharge of 19 year olds to the refusal of MB and MA's.

I know it's tough, but I sure as hell hope Harris County doesn't do the stupid, irresponsible thing and start charging these kids with felonies. That would be a tragedy.

Has Elmer Fudd had any comments on this, or is he too busy harassing bartenders who quit serving him his scotch?

Anonymous said...

Turn back the clock twenty some years ago when TDC (now TDCJ) quit accepting inmates. History is once again repeating.

The counties are now in the same situation as the state; the Feds mandates the state comply with something and fail to fund that state. Now the state demands the counties to comply yet will not fund them. Gee Scott; I wonder what certain counties will do to incarcerate the juvenile offenders, certainly not upgrade to a felony? Right! And for those counties that attempt to comply with the spirit of keeping the juveniles in the county? ? ? This will only increase an overworked probation officer's caseload.

The politics have once again added to the problem. IF the funding is eveer given to the counties it will be down the road and will be insufficient.

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

I love it!!!

You asked for it and you got it!

So SHUT UP already!

In their greed to get the state money for these facilities they forgot what comes along with it; their children.

Not only did the major metropolitan counties (Harris, Dallas, Bexar) throw out the baby with the bath water, but they threw out the tub too. Now they are whining and want the tub back and shortly they will want the baby back also.

The problem is the laws are set for the next 2 years and even worse they are closing facilities. Even if they reopen them in 2 years do you honestly believe that the people out here in rednecksville are going to trust TYC enough to work for them after the way they are treating us. I don't think so! A few will work for them, but then again, we all have our inbreds. I was kind of hoping these inbreds would stay in their home counties after we released and sent them home but the bus does go both directions.

I was loyal to TYC and actually cared about the kids and their education. I turned down several job offers over the last few years that I really wanted to take. I have this problem called integrity and loyalty. Too bad TYC CO doesn't have the same problem.

I had to look for and have already found another and better job with a regular school. In the time it takes too write a short email and send it I had an interview and an offer. Not a long time for me but for you people that whined, complained, and then "fixed" TYC because we were mistreating your little angels, well, now you have an eternity to spend with them! What doesn't make sense is: you didn't spend time with them or care where they were when they weren't incarcerated so why would you care where they were incarcerated?

I've got to admit that I didn't believe it was possible to turn those big counties into any more of a crime ridden slime pit then they already were but I was wrong. You have succeeded. I would say I admire your success but actually I pity your foolishness.

Watch what you ask for because you just might get it. Oh, sorry, I forgot, you are getting it.

If you are going to continue living in those big counties I reccommend "PURCHASING" a "LEGAL" gun or 2 for your safety.

Wait a minute. Hold that thought. Don't do that because your angels will just steal them.

Buy some fruit or vegetables instead. These kids don't know what to do with healthy foods. So if you beat one of these critters in the head with a zuchini or celery stick they will run like hell. I just hope aggravated assault with a deadly vegetable is a misdemeanor.

Good luck and God bless.

You are going to need it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

On the question of whether a vegetable can be a deadly weapon, I cannot resist referring you to this extensive DA comment string on the subject entitled "A Frog Is A Deadly Weapon." ;)

"Chuy" said...

In all honesty, we all know what these counties will do pretty soon, if they have not already started.

1st and foremost these misdemeanors that everyone keeps talking about happen to be the worse youth that TYC has ever had.

Reason, they generally commit numerous crimes and the judge/judges continue to allow these crimes to be plead down.

This will stop and the judges based upon pressure from the county citizens will start sending these same youth as VIO-B (felony 12 month MLOS).

I just find this ironic that our politicians did not figure this out, or were they aware of this but just wanted to sound/look good in front of the camera's?

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits, that's pretty good. Maybe I should get some pumpkins. I know I can pass NICs check. Just ask TYC. I hope they don't have a 2 pumpkin per month purchase limit!

Hey Chuy, Exactly where are they going to send these VOB's or even VOA's after they've closed several of the facilities.

I guess with TDCJ expatriots in charge TYC will just follow suit. You know, good time, etc. Kids gets 12 months but with the GT and other options he is home in 2 so some one else can rotate into that bed.

OOOOOh yeah, we're winning that fight! All I can say about the changes made by the legislature is: Smooth move EXLAX, care to wipe because your dripping everywhere!

Dr. Papschmear said...

I certainly agree with Grits when he says that this is the law for the next two years and we have to find a way to make it work. But I don't believe that the answer is to continue with this who;esale importation of Dimitria Pope's TCDJ cronies to TYC. I understand that TYC's new Director of Training is none other than Dimitria's RED Assistant Director, Marty Martin. And he didn't even have to apply or interview for the job, he was appointed. I imagine that the this practice will soon be tested through both TCHR and EEOC. Maybe we could ask another appointee about the legality of these indiscriminate appointments and tell us when TYC became a "non-equal opportunity employer. What do you think Mr. Former Head of the TXACLU Harrell?

The so called plan that was developed by Ed Owens has already proven to have more holes in it than the Titanic, and it hasn't been in place for any length of time yet. Again, this is what happens when you put people in positions that they aren't qualified to hold. When is Texas going to wake up and see the terrible disservice that has been perpetrated upon it (especially TYC, the citizens of Texas and the youth we serve) by the Governor, the Legislature and the new TDCJ goon squad administration. We haven't even begun to pay the staggering price for this masterpiece of ineptitude.

The counties will do what they must do to adapt, but one thing needs to be clear. The vast majority of the misdemeanants (General Offenders) TYC used to get were initially charged with felony offenses that were pled down. The ability to plead down is essentially gone from the judges' tool box, so that in order for a judge to get a kid into TYC, he'll have to adjudicate him or her as a felon. The functional word here is HAVE. TYC fills up regardless. And with five less facilities to house them, where, oh where will we put them, geniuses?

And then there's the people that work for TYC. So far all we've gotten from our CO leadership is alot of "I don't know."; "I'm not sure."; "I can't comment on that." or "I know, well schedule statewide meetings that not many people will be able to attend." when we ask about what's going on in TYC. Many of the staff who are being left hung out to dry will have a dramtic influence on TYC's ability (or should I say inability) to recruit and retain qualified staff in the future. What is so hard about understanding that you can't treat the people who work for you like shit and expect them to stay around. SB 103 authorized somewhere around 500 new JCO positions for FY 08 and 09. But if you can't fill them, they're just numbers on a piece of paper in Dimitria's briefcase. They don't amount to diddly.

When I go in to work tomorrow, I wonder how many more staff will have resigned, how many will have called out sick just to burn the time so they don't lose it, how many 12-hour shifts will we have to ask our staff to work, and how many of them even care anymore? And for the record, it not just the locals that are stuggling with the new TYC laws. TYC is too!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Pap. Not much left to say. The teachers at the Marlin unit have been told we are closing but nothing has been officially said about jobs at the Mart I unit. If teachers are going to get ma public school job they will be under contract by the time TYC makes a decision. They will be left with teachers that couldnt get a job in the public schools.

Anonymous said...

I agree that many of the misdeameanors have been pled down (especially in the larger counties) and this will probably no longer be an option--which can be a good thing--and the fallout from this will not just be inclusive of two years. Ten years from now, we will probably still have to deal with the after effects.

Every county has to exhaust all resources available before they commit. Larger counties have ample resources, smaller counties don't. And they will continue not to. It's not just a matter of funding, it's a matter of people providing the resources. It's also a matter of getting the youth to the resources or vice versa. We cannot forget that for many of the smaller counties, TYC is the only glimmer of hope in helping the kids. A quick fix? Perhaps. But it beats nothing at all. Then again, the smaller counties don't usually put up with the nonsense of plea bargaining like the larger counties.

So with this new law, Texas has created more problems. Dare I say, even created other avenues for injustice?

Dr. Papschmear said...

I have concerns regarding what I feel are discriminatory hiring practices that are occurring in TYC. The former conservator (Jay Kimbrough) , the current conservator (Ed Owens)and the acting executive director (Dimitria Pope)have adopted a practice of appointing people to key positions in Central Office (mostly from TDCJ), which, in essence, denies any current TYC employee the opportunity to apply or compete for these positions. I have been told that since we (the agency) have been placed under the authority of a conservator that this is acceptable. But is it? Evidently, equal employment opportunity has gone by the wayside in an attempt by our new executive administration to provide jobs for personal friends and cronies, even if it means changing policy to do so. Case in point, the new ombudsman with the current Class B misdemeanor.

I have tried to find out information about being under conservatorship, but so far, I have not had any luck and information from Central Office consists mainly of “I don’t know; I’m not sure”, or no response at all. These rank right up there with "The check is in the mail"; and "I'll still respect you in the morning". The facility where I currently work is being shut down 08/31/07 and those of us who want to stay with TYC can not even get the common professional courtesy to be told if or where we will have jobs. It would be nice to have some time to plan the impending moves or know whether or not to look for another job. Outright lies, half-truths and double talk are the order of the day from our leadership. It appears to me that the intent here is frustrate the employees here to the point that they will quit. If we all quit, the fewer problems and all the more places to put our new TDCJ buddies.

And all the while TYC is shutting down facilities, detention centers all over the state are filling up, and fast. As are TYC beds. Where are you going to house them, Ms. Pope? Not at John Shero, Marlin, Sheffield Boot Camp, West Texas State School or Victory Field. Can you say, "Oops"?

Anonymous said...

Letters are going out this week to the two state schools letting them know that vacent jobs are being frozen. They will be able to do laterals, but, if you want to move up the ladder, you will have to apply for the new position.

Anonymous said...

How exactly does one apply for a job that has already been given away to someone from TDCJ?

Anonymous said...

That is a good question considering that about half of Central Office and Field Offices have to re-apply for their own jobs. Pope has deceided to open up the jobs ( not internal ) but to the world ( TDCJ staff ). Yeah... More TDCJ's taking our jobs! It isn't bad enough that most of the Director jobs are held by TDCJ, now they also want to bring over their other friends.