Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harris County kids in TYC don't receive prescribed medications, treatment

For anybody who thought the Legislature has "fixed" problems at the Texas Youth Commission, this story of what's happening with one county's kids shows there's a lot of work left to be done. The Houston Chronicle reports today ("Harris County monitor reports TYC failings," July 31) that

The probation officer responsible for monitoring how Harris County juveniles are treated at Texas Youth Commission facilities said Monday that some youths have been waiting as long as 18 months to get into a sex offender program or have been released without taking part in it.

She also said that about a third of Harris County youths who have been prescribed drugs to curb hyperactivity or treat mental illness have not been receiving proper medication at TYC facilities.

Blame for failure to receive proper medications falls on UTMB, the university hospital system responsible inmate healthcare at TYC and in adult prisons. But UTMB's failures don't justify an 18-month wait to get into court-mandated sex offender treatment. Such lack of required programming means youth must remain in TYC much longer than necessary for no other reason than the state's failure to provide court-mandated services.

Moynahan only monitors outcomes for Harris County kids in TYC, but there's little reason to suspect others aren't suffering the same difficulties. I for one am tired of hearing pols brag about what they did to "fix" TYC. I want to hear them discussing the myriad problems still facing the agency and what they're going to do about them.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of reasons youth with psychiatric problems might not be receiving meds. The agency has had great difficulty hiring psychiatrists for most of its facilities. That is why psychiatric consultation is to be included in the UTMB contract and the reason that they are likely going to be using telepsychiatry for some of the psychiatric consultation. A second reason may be differences in diagnoses. The psychiatrist in TYC may not agree with previous diagnoses and discontinue meds. The agency faces the same difficulties when releasing kids and sending them to the public mental health system. Kids are sometimes taken off meds and are denied follow-up care. A third reason is that youth are taken off meds if they refuse it more than twice and finally, the kids sometimes cheek meds and then "sell" them to other kids. Some of the meds are extremely dangerous so the "seller" might be taken off the meds because of this.

With regard to sex offender treatment, there is no such thing as "court-mandated" treatment in TYC. The court has NO authority over what TYC does once the kid is committed and the agency is under no obligation to provide the treatment. I am surprised that the county does not understand this. Please check the law. TYC has never been given funding to provide sex offender treatment to all sex offenders. Currently funding is available to about 40%. The situation will be worse with the mandate to have only LSOTPs provide the treatment. There are not enough providers in the state with juvenile experience (about 70 total) and the agency has not had the funds to be able to lure them away from private practice. I am not sure if the legislature dedicated any money to TYC specifically for sex offender treatment and the increased cost of hiring only licensed treatment providers. Juvenile sex offenders are different than adults (as pointed out in a different post). The TYC programs have reduced sexual recidivism even though there are few licensed providers in the programs. I am not sure what the agency is going to do to address the issue of hiring licensed providers. There are many juvenile probation departments that cannot get juvenile sex offender treatment providers and so, were sending the kids to TYC. You might want to check with TJPC about their difficulties across the state, especially in rural counties.

Before indicting TYC, please take a look at the larger picture for both mental health and for sex offenders. This is another case of the legislature's failure to take a look at the big picture and adjust funding as needed.

Anonymous said...

SB 103 requires TYC to provide court ordered treatment or explain to the legislature the reasons that it cannot be provided. The reason that psychiatric services are to be included in the UTMB contract is not difficulty in hiring psychiatrists but that UTMB will do it on the cheap and the quality of treatment provided by UTMB will reflect the cost cutting measures. Telepsychiatry will be used by UTMB for most if not all of the consultations.

Anonymous said...

I heard a few days ago that it takes $50,000 to keep an offender in prison in Calif. It must be less for kids in TYC.

That's about the same as sending a kid to Harvard or Yale! When will the Texas politicians wake up and realize that prevention and treatment are going to cost less than incarceration! Tuff on crime is tuff on the wallet and not much to show for the money at the end.

Anonymous said...

It might shock you to know this but not all sex offenders who enter TYC receive "specialized" sex offender treatment, they "did" all receive cognitive behaviral therapy in which most sex offender treatment is based on, it was resocialization.

Treatment has always been determined by the level of risk the client poses to the community (type of sex offense is factored into this, exposure vs. touch vs. penetration) and amenability to treatment. Clients who pose a significant risk rarely are released before age 21. It was easier to release a kid for murder than it was a sex offender.

UTMB is not to blame for the sex offender issues. Students are assessed by TYC staff at Marlin. Placement services determines (often arbitrerally without reviewing needs) where a student is sent to.

Sex offenders are not the only one having treatment needs met. Unfortuantely like most services in the state of Texas there is limited funding. It is all politics and what the legislature is willing to fund!

Harris county is just upset since they can't overcommit their population and make it the states/TYC problem.

Anonymous said...

One other thing that people might want to follow-up on is the Capital Offender Program. It was an outstanding program that was recognized nationally and significantly reduced recidivism. It now looks like it is gone.

Did the legislature provide any additional funding for sex offenders? If youth are going to have to participate, do they have to finish it? If they do not finish successfully, are they eligible for release? There are some kids who are real disruptive to the program and try to get kicked out because they do not want to participate. How will that be dealt with? Some kids will be willing to just wait until they are 19 and have to be released.

Anonymous said...

SB 103 requires TYC to only use licensed sex offender treatment providers. Those licensees do not exist in sufficient numbers for TYC to provide sex offender treatment. As a result TYC will provide less sex offender treatment. It is highly likely that TYC will be unable to provide any sex offender treatmentin the near future.

Anonymous said...

Since TYC has been gutted I see a new avenue for additional contract care. Can you say the cash cow gets fatter. The manner in which TYC is being managed is not an accident folks! What you are seeing is the moving of TYC to CONTRACT CARE! The new management at TYC has their orders and are carrying them out or they would be out. Pockets are being lined with cash and cash is King!

I guess TYC could fire all the people with criminal records and everything would be all better. Oh I forgot Will Harrel is the only one left.

I have been right about the contract care from the get go and I will bet I am right again.

If it makes you feel better to think you have any input or can make a positive change then go ahead and detach yourself from reality. Follow the money baby, it takes you straight to the truth everytime. It is not about the TYC youth, it is about easy MONEY!

Have a nice day and look for something outside of TYC for your own good. Two months out of TYC will make you a new person. Six months out of TYC will make you wonder how you ever got sucked into TYC. There is a much better life out there for you if you choose to take it.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody seen the requirements to get licensed as a Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider? They are INSANE, which is why there are so few in the state. Among the requirements are 1000 hours of sex offender assessment & treatment under the supervision of another LSOTP + 40 hours of continuing education.

Which is why it was beyond stupid and short-sighted for SB103 to include the stipulation that only LSOTPs can provide sex offender treatment.

Emily said...

What happened to the Capital Offender Program?

Anonymous said...

I assume the Capital Offender Program like all other programs is drifting along under the same practices as before the TDCJ takeover since to do something different would require a new program and the TDCJ people have developed no new programs. At best they will repackage it and call it some new name so it will sound like they did something.

Anonymous said...

The capital offender program is professional staff (requires psychologists or therapists) intensive and there are no staff left that can train any new staff on how to implement the program. I think that David Walenta is going to have a different program designed for violent offenders. Ms. Pope says she wants everything to be simple. Simple is what the kids are going to get, despite the fact that most of the kids are quite complex. This is very sad.

Anonymous said...

If Harris County is so concerned about TYC why don't they get on the Governor to appoint an Executive Commissioner as required by SB 103, who has some idea on how a juvenile correctional agency ought to be run and get rid of the incompetent TDCJ cronies who have made TYC worse off and who don't give a damn about the counties' problems. Or maybe, they could ask their own Senator Whitmire for a solution since he created the original problem and the current Harris County problems are the result of his legislative solutions.

Anonymous said...

What Pope says she wants and what she does are always two different things. She has been there nearly four months; aide from hiring her friends, what has she done?

Anonymous said...

For Emily:
A great deal of the major programming at TYC was based on the Capital Offender Program at Giddings, which was later confirmed as effective with Sex Offenders (note prior posting: the most dangerous went to Giddings for both groups). For convenience, the program can be collapsed to: Layout (who are you, where are you from, what did you do, who did you hurt); Lifestory (how did you get to the point you accepted it was okay to hurt others (on average, this took about 7 hours to present, since there was no telling at first what was important); Offense Cycle (how come you keep making the SAME mistakes) and Success Plan (what do I do differently so I don't come back) {my apologies to Linda and Corinne if I screwed this up). TDCJ (oops, I meant the new TYC Central Office) response? Not only is Resocialization out, even the R word cannot be spoken without getting getting counseled by a supervisor.
So, Emily, it is highly likely that program will die faster than a gang kid on the wrong turf with the wrong girl.

Anonymous said...

Emily, the Capital Offender program at Giddings is portrayed very favorably in a recent book called Last Chance in Texas.

My impression was that it was one of the strongest programs in TYC, although I could be wrong.

So far, one of the most disappointing things about the reshuffling is the total absence of any kind of clearly articulated vision or plan for rehabilitation.

This only adds to my growing suspicion that the focus is totally on damage control and restoring order, neither of which has anything to do with fixing the problems to begin with. Like Grits, I'm reminded of the galling claims by certain legislators of having "fixed TYC."

BTW, Grits, it's interesting that the Chronicle piece says some in HC view the county monitor's job as duplicating Will Harrell.

Maybe this is how he should organize his staff once he finally gets funds...
Bill Bush, UNLV

Anonymous said...

The first commentor hit the nail on the head concerning both issues. There are dramatically different expectations between the county and TYC; the reasons for the lack of continuity in care are complex and multiple; the courts/community might expect specialized treatment but cannot mandate it; only time will tell if TYC has the resources provide more/less specialized treatment.

Anonymous said...

To Bill Bush, it will be very difficult for Wil Harrell to do much organizing since there will only be him, four other employees and a $300,000 per year budget with a global legislative mandate.

Anonymous said...

Has Elmer had any comment on the state of TYC? Why does this guy sound off every two years only to go underground thereafter?

"Hey Harris County, here's your guy, ask him."

AFL-CIO. Would some of our JCO's be so kind to look this up and this unions subdivisions? You JCO's represent the majority (hint hint). Look at the Gov. sections and get back with us. Just take a look guys.

outspoken woman said...

When looking at the lack of care given by UTMB, please note that not only are the kids being short changed, the adult prisons are full of inmates not getting proper medications or having medical restrictions arbitrarily removed. UTMB gets richer and everyone suffers, kids and adult prisoners alike. Appears our legislators bought all of us a Cash Cow at the expense of human lives.

Anonymous said...

According to a post on the latest Gritsblog, Elmer was behind the firings at Al Price. Elmer is still around, just not very publicly.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, I'm new here...who is Elmer?

Anonymous said...

Elmer Bailey, Harris County Juvenile Probation

Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought it referred to Elmer Fudd, AKA Whitmire.

Anonymous said...

I thought Elmer Bailey retired. How was he involved in the firings at Al Price?

Anonymous said...

My God: If you've been following this blog long enough, you'd know Elmer is our resident whipping boy Mascot, Whitmire!

nurit said...

Grits, you might want to get more info on how the UTMB contract came about (hint: Sandara Ferrara used to work at TYC, helped develop the contract and then moved to UTMB).

Give me a break with the Capital Offender and Sex Offender treatment programs! If you were to review some of the videos of COTP "therapists" and their battery of the offender you would be appalled. As for the Sex Offender treatment program, it has never been able to treat all of the youth committed for true sex offenses. The qualifications for a certified provider must by necessity be high in order to work effectively with this difficult group.

Always be cautious of the statistics coming out of TYC on treatment effectiveness. When the SOTP data came out, the report was that 50% of program completers did not reoffend (that was on a sample of 2 completers being released at the time). If you examine the reseach data otherwise, youthful Capital Offenders generally have fewer re-offenses for the same type of offense. Reoffense usually has to do with a gang-related incident.

I say bravo to Dr. Novy for convening a Blue Ribbon Panel to research and investigate successful correctional treatment programs for youthful offenders. Unfortunately, the panel has been tardy in presenting its report. My understanding is that it goes to the governor and to Ms. Pope prior to release to the public and TYC staff. It's easy enough to know what is going to be in the report by doing your own research of what has been demonstrated most effective.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"It's easy enough to know what is going to be in the report by doing your own research of what has been demonstrated most effective."

I wish I believed that, Nurit, and maybe I'm too jaded. But the Governor's last Blue Ribbon panel didn't inspire much confidence, though I'd LOVE to be happily surprised.

Anonymous said...

To 11:01 - Has the Council on Sex Offender Treatment has ever studied the effectiveness of the LSOTPs? The council just changed the risk assessment to be used in Texas without testing its effectiveness with a Texas population or with a juvenile population. Is there increased effectiveness in outcomes when an LSOTP is the counselor as opposed to someone who is not? I know that some of the LSOTPs that the agency (TYC) contracts with don't know much about juvenile sex offenders and use adult models of treatment, don't do an assessment of the kids going to their treatment and do an otherwise lousy job of documenting the treatment they provide. I am not sure that having 40 hours of training and being supervised by an LSOTP with no requirements for the qualifications for supervision are going to guarantee better services to the kids.

chunxue said...

During the World War II, Art Deco jewellery was ugg sale a very popular style among women. The females started ugg boots wearing short dresses and cut their hair short. And uggs such boyish style was accessorized with Art Deco jewellery. They used cheap ugg boots long dangling earrings and necklaces, multiple bracelets and bold ugg boots uk rings.Art Deco jewellery has harshly geometric and symmetrical theme instead disocunt ugg boots of free flowing curves and naturalistic motifs. Art Deco Jewelry buy ugg boots today displays designs that consist of arcs, circles, rectangles, squares, and ugg outlet triangles. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings are added with long ugg boots outlet lines and curves.One example of Art Deco jewelry is the Art Deco ring. Art Deco rings have ugg mall sophisticated sparkle and bold styles. These rings are not intended for a subtle look, they are meant to be noticed. Hence, these are perfect for people with bold styles.