Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Meeting for TYC Parents July 14

If you're a parent of a juvenile incarcerated in the Texas Youth Commission, you may be interested in this event July 14 in Austin, organized by the Juvenile Justice Project of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition:
Make a Difference in Your Community!

For many parents of youth incarcerated in the Texas Youth Commission, the past few months have been full of nightmarish revelations and constant anxiety. But, you don't have to go at it alone!

Come meet other parents that are going through the same situation and organizing to protect their children's welfare at the next Texas Coalition Advocating Justice for Juveniles' Parent Network Meeting. The meeting will be held on Saturday, July 14th, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the ACLU of Texas (1210 Rosewood, Austin, TX 78702). Contact Isela Gutierrez with our Juvenile Justice Initiative at (512) 441-8123 ext 111 or via email at igutierrez@criminaljusticecoalition.org if you have any questions!

40 comments:

whitsfoe said...

I guess neither parents nor the coalition are interested in current TYC employees who have accepted the reform and embraced it for the better treatment of their children? So we're not invited? That kinda makes me a little sad considering I'm advocating like no other for a safe TYC.... one in which fosters the kind of thinking that upon a new commitments arrival in TYC, the discharge planning occurs right then and is constantly reviewed at each treatment plan update. Tell 'em we are rethinking the whole agency. I'd love to tell 'em myself, but since I wasn't invited... eh-hem... I feel like, that…eh-hem Caveman on those insurance commercials.... mmmkay..

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whitsfoe, I just posted their announcement, but I'd bet dollars to donuts Isela would be THRILLED to have you or others come. She's mentioned reading your prose on the blog. Why don't you email her and see what she says?

BTW, Isela Gutierrez is one of my favorites - she's REALLY smart, an incredibly hard worker, and has a good heart, to boot. Whenever you see her involved in something, in my experience, it's a no joke kind of deal. She worked for me briefly a few years ago assisting on research a project and I couldn't have been happier with or more proud of her work. I know some TYC folks have been suspicious of her, but as far as I'm concerned, she's the real deal. best,

Anonymous said...

At my TYC institution we're continuing to involve families and planning more and new activities. We are making the TCAJJ event, place and date known, but editing out the hype.

Personally, I was hoping that TCAJJ (Isela) could move beyond the "us vs them" rhetoric.

There is a TYC workgroup for the Family Bill of Rights. TCAJJ may want to invite a member as an observer, so we can better meet the needs of parents.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of parents of TYC youth. I don't know if anyone realizes the work that TYC volunteers do to assist families. At my facility the volunteers raise money for families to come and visit. The volunteers buy bus tickets and pay for hotel rooms for families each month. I'd say it's $250 or more each month.
The volunteers are people from the surrounding community. There are also a lot of employee/volunteers that contribute, too.
I think it hurts when you say, "meet other parents that are going through the same situation and organizing to protect their children's welfare!" It feels like you are saying that we don't care, or that we aren't trying to protect your children, too.
Just last week, volunteers and employees contributed over $150 in clothes, personals and money for a student being released, but who had no home to go to. We had 24 hours notice. Nobody said "Oh, well!" We all scrambled to provide that student with something. We don't always have the time, tools or money, but please don't say TYC employees and volunteers don't care!

Whitsfoe said...

We're opening the world to the inside of the Texas Youth Commission. I'd like to see a comment from our new Ombudsman regarding what he's experienced from those of us who wanted to do the right thing for YEARS, only to be thwarted by a few in (no - longer) power.

I'd rather Will speak to this group, because quit frankly, I think Will was surprised at how well he was received by many. He’s a true advocate of young adults. He has a learning curve somewhat, but Will is out to sea with us on the reform effort. In my opinion, we have a hell'uva Ombudsman, and a hell'uva kind of guy that can respond, in kind, to the needs of children, their families, and most amazingly, our staff as well. That's courageous. We accept.

The culture of the future TYC will be one of "let's catch the kids being good instead of always bad." We do focus a lot of our attention on catching kids being bad. And that's fundamentally wrong. We need to do both. Redirect and Reward when the desired behavior is expressed.

I'd love to talk about this more, but I'm very busy with implementing SB103, but I can assure you, there are many of us who wanted this change for years, and now we've got the chance, so let's be "Nike" and just do it!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@6:45 - who's in the working group on Parents Bill of Rights? It might be good for TCAJJ to invite a member to their meeting, but it might be just as or more productive for the working group to include her or some of the parents she's organizing in the working group.

Also, I don't know how much hype is in this announcement. For parents with a kid in TYC, I'm sure "the past few months have been full of nightmarish revelations and constant anxiety," don't you think?

I'd encourage y'all to do what you can to work with instead of against Isela. Let her know when she's taking the wrong tack or uses rhetoric that offends staff - her intentions are good and she learns quickly. Feed her information. Give her the benefit of the doubt. IMO she's earned it. No kidding, if she got credit for HALF the work that others have claimed glory for in the past 9 months, she'd be a legend. I respect her a lot. best,

Isela said...

I encourage all of you to contact me if you would like to speak to the parent group or just touch base about any other concerns, whether you are a TYC employee, volunteer, parent, or young person.

To be clear, this is an organizational meeting of a fledgling parent group. It’s important that the group remain primarily family members of incarcerated youth as the group gets off the ground, although I am always happy to puy speakers from TYC on the agenda at the monthly meetings.

Eventually, the TCAJJ Parent Network hopes to collaborate with lots of folks within TYC. The parents -- more than anyone else -- understand the significance of the many TYC staff and volunteers that really care and work hard to protect and rehabilitate their children.

Whitsfoe, TCAJJ would love to "just do it" and be invited to participate in the TYC work group on the Parent's Bill of Rights, and any other TYC work groups on implementing SB 103. The TCAJJ Parent Network provided feedback to TYC about its complaint process in April, and is happy to provide further feedback whenever requested.

6:45, I'd love to hear more about what's being done at your institution to reach out to families, so that I can let other folks know about it and do my best to highlight any positive practices.

7:08, you'll be gratified to know that a number of parents in the group have mentioned the good work of the various volunteer councils. I'd love to hear more from you about the support the volunteer councils provide to families and youth, and how individual parents and young people can apply for that support. I apologize if my prose hurt you, but it was intended to speak directly to parents. I'll keep your comments in mind the next time I write up a blurb advertising a meeting.

Again, feel free to contact me directly with any further concerns.

whitsfoe said...

The thing that incensed many of us was the back and white pictures on their (Coalition) website of black children being handcuffed in what I can only describe as a pre-historic, inhumane style of restraint systems (handcuffs) which totally misrepresents this agency. That was propaganda in its worst form. We don’t do that…. And those photos misrepresent our mission, past or present.

Come join the reform Isela. We welcomed Will, and so shall we welcome you!

"Chuy" said...

We welcome all that don't jump into this reform with an agenda already set based upon the "HYPE" that has occurred this past year.

Yes, the parents should get involved but for those of us who work with their kids daily and have been doing this for some time, they continue to let their children down (not all) and the only time they show up is when legislators are trying to sale the public that TYC is full of sex crazed predators.

Those of us that actually work with these youth know the number one reason the majority come to TYC is based upon lack of parenting and single parent homes (not all but the majority).

So please keep in mind this past session was hype and reform was needed but this had more to do with leadership and we were lacking in this department, we are still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Just to ensure we are all doing our civic duty, GRITS can you request an open records request on all youth TYC has sent out for the past 3 months and their current status?

This should be insightful in regards if these youth are still out or have been incarcerated or killed as I have been told recently.

Since the people running Texas believed all of these youth should have been released and not held based upon program failure it would prove or disprove all of this rhetoric.

One last thing, ask about the New Resocialization plan, is it the same program with just new catchy names or has TYC programs actually changed. Of course you will have those that state it is new but it is not, I thought this was one of the problems TYC had during this past session? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a ??????

Anonymous said...

I am an employee at one of the facilities that has been slated (shush, this is a secret)Vernon, West Texas, Sheffield. When will we close and why all of the secrecy, are we afraid that the staff will leave before the plan has been worked out?

The plan, see if we can keep our youth population low enough to justify closing more facilities.

We need to know something rather than two weeks notice.

whitsfoe said...

Whoa! I felt like I was popping a wheelie there Chuy! Not knowing if I was going to ride on or take a fall! And you mean????

"Chuy" said...

I had no idea you could pop a wheelie on your kids big wheel.

When you ask for meaning, what would you like pointed out?

1) The majority of TYC youth come from single parent homes.

2) The majority of TYC youth have either their Mother or Father incarcerated or have been.

3) The majority of youth that have parents/parent that shows up to visit and stays in contact with the youths case worker has a better opportunity for succeeding based upon knowing they have someone to go home to that cares.

So hopefully now that this has been slightly cleared up for you Whitsfoe, go back to watching your favorite movie "Deliverance" and squeal like a pig while your popping your wheelie, later!!!

whitsfoe said...

ahhahahahahaha!

We'll have most all employees placed,... even you block head!!!!

Anonymous said...

To 10:57....you have to realize one thing it's ALL about money. If you look in the right places (LBB fiscal notes, executave summary, and SB1), you will find your answer. The three facilities you mention are not going to be funded past Sept. 2008...so anytime between now and then is when I anticipate unemployment, and I expect it sooner rather than later.

If you happen to be an optimist, then you can believe all the hopeful- hang in there, hogwash you are hearing, but look around and see how many people are jumping off the ship. Personally, I'm not believing the hopeful hogwash, but I am not going anywhere either. I have donated 10 years of my life to the agency and its mission. I happen to love my work, so I'm going to hang in there in hopes of a miracle, but I honestly don't think that a miracle will happen.

No matter what happens, justice is FINALLY being served to many TYC youth who damn well deserve it. You can hang with us...or don't...it's really up to you. But don't expect a happy ending to the facilities that close. Prepare yourself for and abrupt ending, and if you can't deal with that, go ahead and find yourself a more secure job now.

I wish you, and everyone else out there hanging in limbo with us, the very best of luck for the future.

whitsfoe said...

This should be required reading for all my TYC sis' and bro's out there: (I don't know how to make a link Henson, so help me here)...

http://www.prisonexp.org/

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Here's the link, whitsfoe.

Anonymous said...

I remember studying the Stanford Prison Experiment shortly after it came out in the '70's. Long-ago I suggested to TYC management that the video should be required part of the training for all TYC supervisors and caseworkers.

Maybe someone will pick up on that now? Perhaps this parent group would be interested in seeing the video? JGC/CSS

whitsfoe said...

We studied it too... but it's really a good idea for all TYC employees to look at it. It should be required for all Superintendents and supervisors... anually... How soon we forget...

"Chuy" said...

I watch this 6 years ago when Dateline aired this episode and found it to be realistic and accurate considering it was an experiment.

This could be offered in pre-service for all new staff who will be working with youth in a correctional setting and role playing could be enhanced with the verbal communication training.

Anonymous said...

Maybe all the parents would feel allot better if they knew that nearly all the jobs in management for the New TYC are going to TDCJ staff.

The rules for dealing with and communicating with population seems to be just a little bit different but I am sure they will understand.

TYC you communicate, hold group, counsel, give progressive consequences.

TDCJ you close the door, communicate (shut the F_ _ _ up), hold group (Blanket party), give progressive discipline (beat the heck out of them).

I would like to know why are TYC staff whining about TDCJ staff getting all these jobs (they did not interview for nor are qualified for) remember TYC will go under Sunset 9/1/07. Look at the direction this agency is going in. Is this not what the legislators wanted?

So parents feel relieved that one of Texas finest ran agencies (TDCJ) will provide over sight over your children and the vast amount of juvenile experience they bring with them. Comforting

Anonymous said...

6:52, what do you think's gonna happen in Sunset?

Anonymous said...

I can sum it up in two words...HOSTILE TAKEOVER!!!

Anonymous said...

Just met the new Ombudsman, Will Harrell tonight and he seems very personable and willing to listen.

This seems to be one appointment that has gone right. He is concerned not only for the youth under TYC's care but also the staff employed at TYC. He seemed very at ease talking to both youth and staff and is willing to listen to concerns.

Anonymous said...

6:06, of TYC by TDCJ?!?! Is this just a bad feeling in your belly, or have you actually heard this from someone in the know? I can't imagine ANYONE that would support that.

Anonymous said...

You guys are kidding yourself if you really think anything within the TYC infastructure has really changed.

Want to see a marker of where reality really is? Look at the TYC Investigators that were working and doing the internal physical and sexual abuse cases before this all started and look at who they KEPT in the same positons with the "new changes" now in place. Even though there is a new Ombudsman's office- there will still be TYC investigators inside TYC doing cases like they always have before. Did you know that? Mr. Harrell, I hope you take a SERIOUS look at these Investigators and their work/ethic. You may be VERY concerned with what you find. They decided to keep some of the Investigators and demote others out of their positions. They kept a "chosen few". The chosen few may make you raise an eyebrow or two.
Look at the ones they kept and then look at the ones they demoted out of the position.
Look at their job performance of: Number of cases overturned on appeal due to inadequate or improperly done investigative work; Number of complaints filed against them for behavior indicating their findings would be pro-agency despite the facts and unprofessionalism; The number of follow ups or addendums they have to be told to do before submitting reports because they don't make sense or add up, etc. etc. etc. Look at who they kept to "do a good job and keep the students safe" and who they didn't.
It will seal the deal for you if you have any misconception that what started all of this has really changed for the better.

Anonymous said...

I can almost guarantee you that last post had an alleged mistreatment investigation confirmed against him.

Anonymous said...

to anaon 11:27....from 6:06

All you have to do is take a look at who is now running and/or has taken a part in restructuring the agency. They are all from TDCJ. The list is too long to mention here, but one of them is our new Executive Director, Demitria Pope, and she is at the very top. Not only is she at the top, but according to her information at one of the briefings, TYC policies are currently being rewritten.

I think I have more of an observing eye than a gut feeling about this.

Grits do you, or any of your sources, have any idea how many of new TYC leadership positions have been filled by TDCJ employees? That number might enlighten and astound a few of us.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Well, I'm sure this crowd can list them, or add to and complete this list:

Ed Owens
Dimitria Pope
Mary Woods (human resources)

I've also been told these positions are TDCJ transplants but don't know names from a quick search of past comments:

* General Counsel
* Inspector General (both the IG and some unknown, to me, # of staff
* Dimitria Pope's secretary

Ironically, of course, Ray Brookins was at TDCJ before transferring to TYC! But that's another story.

Who else, folks? That WOULD be an interesting and useful list to compile.

"Chuy" said...

It has been alleged that Ray Brookins also failed two polygraph tests based upon an investigation at the Tulia unit for having male inmates perform oral sex on him for favors.

The inmates passed the polygraph and Ray did not. Then TDCJ did not pass this info on to TYC and the rest is history. Of course this was alleged and written in the Austin American Statesman two months ago but it died quick.

Anonymous said...

Only thing I have seen change at TYC is employee moral, people searching for jobs and stressed out staff worrying about their job.Staff walking off the job!No one seems to be beating down the doors to get hired.

Oh and KIDS completly out of control now, because they can leave when their time is up and they don't have to follow any phase rules to get out!

They could careless about getting an education or a GED! Push out is the word of the day with the kids in TYC. Almost forgot no one knows what is changing or going to change and apparently no one else knows. If CO knows they are keeping it SECRET!

Run around is another good term that must be heading up all of this new policy when it comes to telling the field staff.

Anonymous said...

To 1:09- You shouldn't post guarantees you can't back. I have NO alleged mistreatments against me. So, in order to point out flaws in the system, I have to be a victim of it or disgruntled? That view of life interaction may be your way, but is not mine. If I see an issue I point it out whether I am involved or whether the issue involves the rights or safety of others. Life is not all about US. Try thinking beyond yourself sometime and maybe you won't post guarantees that have no validity.

Anonymous said...

to 11:35 a.m.

I figure you must be talking about Shirley M. Problem with many investigators is they don't chase enough rabbits leaving too many holes or they make judgments based on their personal feelings rather than drawing a conclusion based on evidence. Who are the investigators left in the IG's office these days?

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sure this crowd can list them, or add to and complete this list:

Ed Owens
Dimitria Pope
Mary Woods (human resources)

I've also been told these positions are TDCJ transplants but don't know names from a quick search of past comments:

* General Counsel
* Inspector General (both the IG and some unknown, to me, # of staff
* Dimitria Pope's secretary

Ironically, of course, Ray Brookins was at TDCJ before transferring to TYC! But that's another story.

Who else, folks? That WOULD be an interesting and useful list to compile.



Add to this list TYC's new
Judi J. Benestante, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Education

Keep adding to this list. It is getting interesting!

Anonymous said...

To 5:05-
The Investigators they decided to keep: their job performance and "loyalty" history speaks for themselves (should anyone care to look and if those records haven't already been cleansed as well). I don't have to name names. You have named one investigator still within TYC who apparently fits that mold with what you know about or have experienced with her. I am not agreeing or disagreeing. Facts speak for themselves.
When TYC chooses NOT to retain employees in their positions who have shown they will NOT participate in cover ups, bend the truth nor be satisfied with inadequate case research- the writing is clearly on the wall. Does it surprise anyone that the investigator who was part of this initial media blitz and who aided the Texas Ranger/Legislators in telling the truth about TYC report cover ups/redacting is NOT one of those selected to stay in the position? No, I am not this person, but it concerns me that TYC would select others who have proven they will look the other way yet dismiss others such as this investigator who will report the truth despite knowing it may cost her job with the corruption within TYC (which it did and just recently with the supposed "new", "uncorrupt" administration). And, before anyone else comes back to try and deflect the issue here (that TYC's path really hasn't changed within) with more invalid assumptions of why I feel it necessary to call attention to this- look first. Look and see if what I am saying isn't factual. The truth speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

8:27

Not disagreeing with you and if I understand what you are saying that Tish Elliot Wilkins was let go...

If true that does look bad, but follows true to Texas tradition.

Anonymous said...

Tish Wilkins (and others) were not "fired" but removed from being investigators while the "select few" (names withheld) were kept in their same positions. Not only this, those "select few" are now eligible for a substantial pay increase while the rest of the "non-selected" investigators were "demoted" to other positions and are not eligible for this increase. So, not only are they keeping those investigators who have proven they can be controlled by the agency or do poor jobs, they are going to pay them more to do it. The rest who are no longer Investigators can either stay and take the very loud and very clear slap to the face or they can leave. Shall we watch the numbers and see what they choose? It is very sad this agency continues to try and give the impression of "good change" when in fact it has done nothing but secure itself more in the ability to be just as corrupt with LESS visibility than before.

In regard to your "tradition" comment. "Tradition" has probably been responsible for the most harm done to the human race. Nothing like an excuse of precedence to continue illogical behavior (since that is the only way it can be justified).

Anonymous said...

To Anon. 9:02pm

What are you talking about? Our positions were divided into two groups, Youth Care Investigators and youth Rights Specialist. No one was "let go". Our division was divided into two parts to comply with the agency wanting to set up a division to answer the youth's non criminal, and non-abuse complaints. I don't know what you are talking about with the "select few", but we aren't getting a raise, we are losing staff through retirement and quiting, and we each have almost 70 cases, and get as many as 5-10 new cases a week. I just love being so special that I am worked into complete exhaustion and have to be away from my family for up to three weeks a month. So unless you are privy to my work, and files you shouldn't be so quick to sling mud. Since all these allegations have broke with TYC everyone is like a pack of sharks, the minute a little blood is drawn they all turn on each other. So, 9:02 I wouldn't open my mouth unless I knew what I was talking about.....

Anonymous said...

9:02 - I know exactly what I am talking about.
You are hearing what you want to hear rather than reading what I said. I clearly said no one was "let go". Some were removed from doing the job they were doing reassigned to different positions that took them out of that role. The agency already had a system in place to deal with the non-criminal and non-abuse cases. Yet, they move certain investigators to do this task when others are left to do their jobs.
The issue is who they selected to stay in their position. No raise for you? Are you one staying as you were or are you now selected to do non-criminal and non-abuse cases?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone who attended this meeting had anything to say about it? I never found it written up in the MSM, either.