Sunday, July 08, 2007

TYC State of Agency Tour Continues

Texas Youth Commission Executive Director Dimitria Pope and her staff continue their goodwill tour this week to visit with TYC staff and the public about the "State of the Agency," with events scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston, Harlingen and Austin respectively.

HOUSTON
July 9
Children’s Assessment Center

2500 Bolsover
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

HARLINGEN
July 10
Best Western Casa Villa Suites
4317 S. Expressway 83
9:00 a.m. – Noon

AUSTIN
July 11
Auditorium in State Capitol
Capitol Extension
9:00 a.m. – Noon


I'll try to attend the one in Austin, but if you get to go to any of the others, be sure to take notes, shoot me an email or let us know what happened in the comments. And if you've already been to one of these events, tell us what you think. And good luck, folks.

RELATED UPDATE: Apparently Pope, Ed Owens and other TYC muckety mucks were in the Valley last week touring the Evins unit in Edinburgh with Sen. Juan Hinojosa, Rep. Aaron Peña, who wrote about the tour on his blog, and retired Judge Joe Evins for whom the unit is named. Wrote Peña:
Also present was TYC's Conservator, Ed Owens, TYC's Acting Executive Director, Dimitria D. Pope, TYC's Interim Assistant Deputy Executive Director for Juvenile Corrections, Stan DeGerolami, and Evins Regional Juvenile Center's newest superintendent, Eddie Martinez.

We talked about a number of subjects, such as what we were going to do with the open bay sleeping units. As it was explained to me this housing strategy was going to be addressed by making individual divided detainee units in the physical structure.
The open bay dorms at some TYC units exemplify extant structural problems that weren't addressed in the 80th Legislature, so I'm glad they're following up at least on that issue. "No organization is perfect but I certainly feel more comfortable now that this organization is moving in the right direction," said Peña. That's further than I'd go describing an agency with 48% annual staff turnover, a stable of inappropriately designed, understaffed, mostly rural facilities, and top managers with no juvenile corrections experience. But at least legislators are taking greater interest.

34 comments:

whitsfoe said...

Would my Houston colleagues be so kind as to report if Elmer showed up? I can't make it to Houston, but you know, I would if I knew for fact he was going to be there... anyone know for sure if he's going to be there?? I just have a "few" questions for him.... Houston is a 2 hour drive for me...

"Chuy" said...

I have been asking this question and today I picked up a San Angelo paper and found (don't know if they list all requirements in the add but one would assume) what I have been looking for.

GEO Group, Inc
Become a Juvenile Correctional Officer, Coke County.
$10.00hr./ Earn a minimum of $20,800 annually.
No experience needed.
Must have GED or high school diploma.
18 years of age and a valid drivers license.
Does not state anything about felonies, or misdemeanors.

Now if they pay less than TYC I can see why they would allow felons and misdemeanors in the past 5 year to work for them. At this pay you have to get what you can, this is a contract organization and all they care about is the Dollar.

But, if I recall these youth are TYC youth contracted to a facility that apparently does not meet the standards TYC put in place and the legislators wanted.

Are these youth different than the ones in TYC facilities?

Are we willing for something else (West Texas/Ray Brookins) to happen before we make our contracts to abide by the same standards of TYC?

I hope our new Ombudsman and our elected officials who appeared to be so concerned about juvenile corrections look into this.

whitsfoe said...

Good point. I wonder what Geo is thinking now because they used to get our revokees that were 18-21. But now, they'll have to do as we do? They won't hang....watch... they couldn't when we had all the juvenile girls there... they'll fold I bet and want to transfer that facility to adults.

Anonymous said...

Geo is in somebody's back pocket. They are protected by somebody. For years they successfully avoided all efforts to get them to come into compliance with TYC standards. Why should that change now?

Anonymous said...

Follow the money...

Anonymous said...

Chuy is jumping to conclusions which are not based on facts. First find the TYC policy on contractor's employees. Like many things required by SB 103 or stated by TYC administrators, it doesn't exist except in press releases. If you review SB 103 and look at TYC's written policies, you will find that none of them are in compliance with SB 103. The question is why after more than a month after SB103's effective date and more than three months after the major provisions of SB 103 were settled, and four months after the press release that TYC contractors were to not employ felons and certain misdemeanants, there are no written policy or rule changes in TYC's policies.

"Chuy" said...

Apparently your not up to date on your PRS polices and if you were you would have read the changes.

I believe the issue was/is do contract facilities have to abide by the same rules for juvenile corrections as TYC?

Anonymous said...

Chuy, can you tell me what written policy that is? It is not in TYC's General Administrative Policies where it is supposed to be. I assume that you like the incompetant that wrote the PRS change do not realize that PRS applies only to TYC personnel, not contractors. Additionally that miswritten PRS policy change applies only to the "contractor" not the contractor's employees. Further, it requires only the contractor's background check. Have you ever tried to run the fingerprints of the "contractor," Geo, Inc.? Thus as I said there is no written policy covering contractor's employees. How about where are the rest of the policy changes for SB 103, which was the main point of my original statement?

Anonymous said...

Y'all on an earlier string Grits asked who from TDCJ has been transferred to TYC management, but didn't get many answers. Here it is again if you didn't see it. Who else is there?

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

Anonymous said...

Action Taken on the Criminal Record Findings.


For Non-Correctional Positions.

A current employee, contract vendor, or volunteer who has criminal charges pending for which a conviction would result in ineligibility for employment, or who has any outstanding warrants, must be placed on suspension until the charges have been dismissed or the warrant is no longer outstanding. For the purpose of this policy, minor traffic violations are not considered a misdemeanor criminal charge,


Misdemeanor Convictions.

For a current employee, conviction for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor will result in appropriate disciplinary action as determined through a recommendation by the CLA to the Chief Human Resources Officer, with written approval from the Chief Executive Officer.


Felony Convictions

A current employee or contract vendor, who is convicted of a felony, or an equivalent offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, shall not be allowed to remain employed.


For Correctional Series Positions.


In order for a current employee or contract vendor to be considered for continued employment in a correctional series position, they must:


not be on probation for any criminal offense for which a conviction would disqualify the person from employment;
not have any pending charges for any criminal offense for which a conviction would disqualify the person from employment;
not have an outstanding warrant;
not be convicted of a felony;
never have been convicted of a drug-related offense (an alcohol-related offense is not a drug-related offense); and
never have been convicted of an offense involving domestic violence.


For a current employee or contract vendor in a correctional series position, conviction for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor other than domestic violence or drugs will result in appropriate disciplinary action as determined through a recommendation by the CLA to the Chief Human Resources Officer, with written approval from the Chief Executive Officer.

Anonymous said...

What about volunteers? You have to be an attorney to understand this crap - and that's on purpose. What about the volunteers with criminal records? We're still waiting to hear our fate...this is bull.

Anonymous said...

Grits
you keep harping on the 'rural' facilities - have you been to one? You should come take a look -Don't you think someone who offers an opinion on something should educate themselves before forming the opinion. However, if I'm mistaken and you have visited some rural facilities, please accept my humble apology. However, if not, I invite to do so...you can't believe everything you read or the politicians say.

Anonymous said...

Fellow Anonymous, quoting the PRS policy does not change the fact PRS does not apply to real "contract vendors" or that a contract vendor is not a contract vendor's employee. The PRS provision would only apply to TYC contract employees, who are not really contract vendors but really TYC employees. It would not apply to an independent contractor. Geo, Inc.'s employees are not "contract vendors."

Do you think that the rest of PRS applies to contract vendors?

No contract vendor's lawyer would ever believe your quoted PRS provision is applicable to the contract vendor's employees.

Back to my original point, where are the TYC written policies for SB 103??????

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@4:21 - No, I haven't visited all the TYC facilities.

Do you disagree they're mostly in rural areas and small towns? Don't you think that contributes to high staff turnover and chronic understaffing (especially for specialized skills)?

It's possible my view is colored by my more long-time focus on the adult system, where I have visited facilities before. The state jail in Dalhart, for example, is chronically about 35-40% below full staffing because not enough people live there to fill CO slots and those who do can make more money at the neighboring industrial pig farm.

TYC has even worse understaffing and employee turnover problems than TDCJ. Plus I think the units with open bay dorms and other key design features copied from adult corrections need to be remodeled or shut down. So maybe I'm off base, but I believe TYC units' location and architecture both contribute to the agency's big picture problems.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the new head of the Training Department from TDCJ? Also, what has happen to all the employees that were suspended due to criminal records, what happen to them?

Anonymous said...

You are right on point, 10:15.

Now if only Mike Ward would do an article on that ...

Anonymous said...

Grits,
The issues that should concern you are not the understaffing but where are the written policies to implement the "reforms"? What did happen to all those suspended employees and what did that boondoggle cost? Why are personnel being hired without job postings, interviews, and in some cases no juvenile justice experience or other job related experience? Why are many contracts being issued without competitive bidding? Why was an outside law firm hired to handle open records request when there were TYC attorneys available to handle the requests? Why are there still 19 and 20 year olds incarcerated more than a month after SB 103 took effect? Where are the review panels that SB 103 mandated? How is TYC providing sex offender treatment without licensed sex offender treatment providers? ETC. ETC.

Anonymous said...

Amen, 5:46!

Anonymous said...

Grits,
You are correct about the architecture point with the open-bay dorms. They have been a disaster from the git-go. One rural State School I know well had very little turn-over before the 96 bed open-bay dorm was added. Couldn't keep staff on that dorm.

Adding the extra beds also created a need for more staff than the local economy could provide. The snowball that resulted jacked the turn-over way up. Another factor that upped turn-over is the change-over about 8 years ago to the "corrections" mode of operation. The whole culture of TYC changed - including the attitude of management towards the line workers.

The hard facts are that at the salaries TYC pays, the rural areas are the only places where they will be able to find workers. They just need to be careful not to make the units bigger than the local employment base can support, and they need to go back to treating employees like they really are important.

There are a lot of factors that contributed to the high turnover at TYC; placing them in rural areas is not high on the list of those factors. E.g. Marlin and Mart are both rural, but they are both within 20 miles of an urban area (Waco).

whitsfoe said...

So how did the Houston gig go? Was my hero there?

Anonymous said...

Also, what has happen to all the employees that were suspended due to criminal records, what happen to them?

All except 3 were fired as of July 2, 2007. Price tag in wages and add ons is about $600,000. If legal action follows then who knows the cost.

Open Record Requests are flooding in. I know one past employee who has received over 20,000 pages of TYC documents and is reviewing them.

$600,000 and less than a hundred employees and their family members screwed for some good front page headlines. The politicians are willing to screw you for a headline that the tax payers get to pay for.

I hope some lawyer figures out a way to do a class action on TYC for the people fired because of old criminal records. The longer they worked at TYC the more they should get if they told the truth when they were hired.

Anonymous said...

What three were not fired??
1) Faith Cambell
2)
3)

Anonymous said...

DPS f-it up on Faith. No felony guys. DPS is like human,,,, they F-it up too....

Anonymous said...

You couldn't pay me enough to go back to work at TYC!!! I resigned in May.I worked at a halfway house that was the most bizarre place i had ever worked in my life! TYC is beyond repair

Anonymous said...

9:45 pm.

Just wondering if you worked at an institution before working at a HWH? They are very different in how they function so I can understand how you might think it is bizarre.

Anonymous said...

9:58....That place was unlike anything I have ever seen. Different? Bizarre best describes it.

Anonymous said...

What defines a location as rural. Texas is a large state and is a good 3 or 4 hour drive from any large town to any large town. How many of your drive an hour to work? VFCA has employees who drive an hour to an hour and a half because they pay is good for the area and the cost of living is not horrible. The reason for the large turnover is that even though the pay was good for the area, it was still not enough for the abuse that had to be taken from the students and the previous regime not asking for enough money to staff the facility with enough people at all time. Everyone aquired a lot of overtime, but didn't get to take it...not enough people working because Dwight Harris kept the FTEs down. People get tired of working with no relief or time off.

Anonymous said...

Blaming Dwight Harris for keeping the FTEs down is blaming the wrong guy. Try the real villain - the head of the Senate Finance Committee. Gee, who was that fine fellow? Whitsomething or other?

Anonymous said...

WE DON'T HAVE OPEN BAY DORMS except for the 2 small dorms used for the younger kids - which duh? makes sense. We have also kept the younger youth housed together - separate from the older youth - for at least 10 years. But wait, we're rural...we can't possibly be doing anything right. Although the majority of our staff have more than 10 years of TYC service...oh wait...that can't be good. There's got to be something wrong here...oh wait, we had that Brookins guy. But we tried to report him and no one would listen...that must be our fault too-no one in central office would take responsibility. And now, well...we all know about now-TDCJ rules!

Anonymous said...

I've said it more than once, but here I go again w/ those 2 words:

"HOSTILE TAKEOVER"

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is running the show...just look at all of TYC's new leadership who are from TDCJ.
And the list keeps growing!

Anonymous said...

TYC used to be a fine job where you felt like you actually made a diffrence in kids lives. We lost it when we started letting the inmates have control !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I hope the public holds the politicians accountable when juvenile crime skyrockets, especially Whitmire

Anonymous said...

TYC tried having a large institution in a non-rural area - Hamilton. The only folks they could get to work there as JCOs were people who could not get a job at the chicken factory. No joke!

The other non-rural facility, though not large enough to be called an institution is McFadden Ranch- just outside the Metroplex. What a mess that place is!

There are a lot of advantages to having institutions in rural areas as long as they don't try to make them bigger than the potential employee pool can support.

Anonymous said...

Jesus people nothing has changed just the faces of the corrupt. The newest one is Ron Stewart haven't you heard. He came to Crockett lying and taking shit and the four women who are in charge down there tired to hold him accountable and central office told them to stand down. He will be inthe pages soon. He made fun of a six in a meeting for getting assaulted by a youth but when one of his boys from AL Price was hit he press free world charges. He has done so much wrong here that he has the campus unrest becasue he doesn't know what the hell he is doing. Logan