For starters, the changes make it easier to release TYC kids even when they haven't completed various programs to which they've been assigned. It:
gives the Director of Treatment and Case Management the authority to grant waivers for certain youth who would otherwise be required to complete the chemical dependency treatment program, sexual behavior treatment program, or capital and serious violent offender treatment program in order to qualify for release on parole.The new rule also reduces "the amount of time a youth must remain free of serious rule violations in order to be eligible for release on parole from 90 days to 30 days." FWIW I can guarantee you that change alone will dramatically increase the number of TYC youth eligible for release.
Another amendment gives TYC carte blanche to release kids into virtually any setting, giving:
the commission ... authority to release under supervision any child in its custody and place the child in his or her home or in any situation or family approved by the commission.Finally, a new rule puts in place safeguards to ensure abuse investigations aren't prematurely closed or that supervisors don't ignore the results. The change:
requires that an officially closed report include: (1) the signatures of the supervisor who was responsible for making the final closure determination and the investigator who was the author of the investigation report; and (2) a statement by the supervisor if he/she disagrees with any portion of the report.Often changes to the Administrative Code have as great an impact on criminal justice programming as changes in actual statutes, and IMO these are as significant for reducing overincarceration at TYC as anything the Legislature passed on the subject.
A lot more rulemaking must occur at TYC once SB 103 and other pending legislation becomes law, though the commissioner is the sole "decider" under the current structure - there's no longer a TYC board to have a traditional rulemaking process. A handful of other agencies like the Department of Insurance have a single commissioner who makes agency rules by him or herself, but that still makes the process pretty insular. It's astonishing in this case that with all the hoo-ha surrounding TYC this spring the agency received no public comments on the changes. That must be at least partially because the board had been disbanded.