Saturday, July 28, 2007

What happened to TYC conservator's reports?

A Texas Youth Commission central office employee emails to ask:
Do you suppose it’s significant that no conservator’s report has been posted since May? We have to report to [TYC Executive Director] Dimitria Pope on “accomplishments” each month. Does this mean that nothing is being accomplished?
It's true, there's not been a conservator's report released since this one on May 2, as far as I know. I wonder why?

I see no reason why changing conservators (it's now Ed Owens instead of Jay Kimbrough) means the new one should stop reporting what's going on to the Legislature and the public. Just spinning a few ideas off the top of my head, here are some things I'd like to see in a TYC conservator's report:
  • An employee satisfaction survey
  • A survey of youth on conditions and rehabilitation effectiveness
  • Any data on outcomes and recidivism for youth who've been released since March
  • An explanation of what will replace the "resocialization" treatment package in TYC and when it will be ready
  • Results from the "vulnerability assessments" at each unit promised in the last conservator's report and unit-specific plans for reducing vulnerabilities.
  • Some sense of when the "Blue Ribbon Panel's" recommendations be ready - some initiatives are waiting on them
  • An appendix listing each new rule or policy changes made since March 2007 as well as any contemplated
  • An analysis of how many employees have been terminated since March 2007 and for what reasons
  • A monthly macro analysis of sustained vs. unsustained complaints against employees by unit and complaint type (TDCJ should publish that data, too).
  • A monthly analysis of youth on staff assaults and crime committed by youth in custody
  • Monthly employment and education progress metrics for TYC parolees
So tell me, what else do you think the Texas Youth Conservator should report to the public about?

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

The qualifications of the new CO administrators.

Anonymous said...

how many long time TYC employees with decades of service in Juvenile corrections have been promoted (other than interim) to positions of higher responsibility under the new management.

Michael said...

Think I'll cut and paste your punchlist into a Public Information Act request.

Anonymous said...

How many state and federal lawsuits have been filed by employee's? What do they pertain to. This one would be really interesting.They are there!

Anonymous said...

How did Broncho Billy get away with authorizing the use of a State credit card to purchase personal clothing at Al Price?

Anonymous said...

Why has the "major incident tracker" on the TYC public website not been updated in over three months when we all know there have been many "major incidents"? What happened to transparency?

Anonymous said...

Is "conservator" actually Ed Owens' title? I was under the impression that it slightly different.

It is surprising that there hasn't been a single report since Kimbrough's.

You might add, generally, what progress has been made toward those 56 recommendations? Which ones are they adopting? rejecting? why?

Not passing the smell test.

Anonymous said...

Why have they not announced that they are planning on moving the 10-13 kids into private facilities? They have made no mention of this to the newspapers or to the people in the field?

No.1 question, Why are they not keeping the field staff informed on what is happening or going to happen? Why are they so secretive about everything. Ask a question to one of them or an adminstrator and you will get" don't know what your talking about" or can't comment on that!

Anonymous said...

How do they plan on filling JCO positions. Last count Mart was in need of 200 JCO staff.

Any plans on closing more facilities?

Why have two facilities in Mart (Mart I and II) when you cant fill the vacancies for just one facility?

Why hide behind conservatorship when filling posts rather than allow the most qualified interview and allow some transparency to the process rather than he call me "Yes Sir BOSS".

Anonymous said...

I like Michael's suggestion best

Anonymous said...

I would like to see "evidence base" for the new pepper spray policy. Where is the research which shows that using pepper spray actually reduces the number of staff injuries, assaults on staff, and youth on youth assaults.

Youth assaults will be more violent because they will be thinking "If i am going to get sprayed then I better make it count." Or, they will just plan their assaults more carefully and engage in violent behavior more quickly so as to get their licks in before staff have a chance to spray them. They will simply do their assaultive thing and when staff say stop they will stop, comply, and assume the cuff up position.

Raising the use of force stakes will not get the youth to "learn to control their behavior." Rather they will just learn to manipulate the new system, that is what they do.

Anonymous said...

I'd really like for them to publish all the TDCJ folks resumes highlighting their juvenile justice experience and what qualifies them to be in the position they're in, especially the ones making these pre-Morales v. Turman II decisions. Bet there'd be no lick of yellow on any of them.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the research showing that the use of pepper spray on youth is an effective behavior control method. In my limited experience, it appears like the kids take it as a badge of honor to get sprayed. But what do I know? I have never worked at TDCJ, I have only worked with youth for 20 odd years.

Anonymous said...

I am a TYC teacher, and I'd like to know how learning is expected to occur in the classroom after someone gets sprayed. What are we going to do when the focus turns from academics to the burning eyes and lungs caused by pepper spray fumes? Has anyone ever investigated the potential health hazards from the use of pepper spray? The kid who gets sprayed will be moved to security, but what happens to the rest of us? This applies to all confined areas, not just the classroom, but the problem will interrupt the learning environment immensely.

Anonymous said...

what happened to removing the employees that had assault and drug convictions??????

Anonymous said...

I would like to see how they were referred to tyc in the first place.

were they given an attorney?

were their parents available?
Dead? Prison? Family?

was through a "plea" that I guarantee
they were not FULLY informed as to watt their rights are under the U.S. Constitution!

So disgusting these officials are not being transparent!

Anonymous said...

There would probably be a report if someone there knew how to write.

Anonymous said...

In order to give a report one must know what is going on . What makes you think Mr. Ed does? His head was mostly in the sand while with TDCJ or possibly buried in the south end of his anatomy, something he learned from his close friend and benefactor Governor Goodhair.

"Chuy" said...

FINALLY the MSM has picked up on the contracting out of youth. The Dallas Morning News, Sunday edition with the headline below:

Texas' youth jail operators have troubled histories

TYC contractors housing inmates have lost contracts, closed doors elsewhere

12:44 AM CDT on Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reign said...

DMN needs to stay with this story.

Anonymous said...

11:33
We better do our research on the spray. In education we may experience pepper spray several times a day. Once it is sprayed in the building it will go thru the air conditioner vents and you will breathe it in.Do they care what effect it will have on your health, hell no. Quit, if you can't take it is what you will hear.
Have they ever cared about educating kids, no, just besure you have good numbers for the news and the lege.
Bottom line, we can't change it, any of it, so we live it or leave.
Pepper spray is not going to put the fear in these kids, not going to phase them. But your going to have those pepper spray happy sprayer's that will use it at the drop of a hat.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the official name for the pepper spray TYC is going to use? I feel like doing some research. I will let Grits readers know what I find out.

Anonymous said...

To all my fellow TYC Employees:

I copied the folowing information about pepper spray from Wikipedia online encyclopedia:

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent as opposed to an irritant like Mace. It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. The duration of its effects depend on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.

The Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science published a study that concluded that single exposure of the eye to OC is harmless, but repeated exposure can result in long-lasting changes in corneal sensitivity. They found no lasting decrease in visual acuity.

The European Parliament Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) published in 1998 “An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control”[3] with extensive information on pepper spray and tear gas. They write:

"The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which last from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which last from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes."
For those with asthma, taking other drugs, or subject to restraining techniques which restrict the breathing passages, there is a risk of death. The Los Angeles Times has reported at least 61 deaths associated with police use of pepper spray since 1990 in the USA,[4] and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) documented 27 deaths in custody of people sprayed with pepper spray in California alone, since 1993.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a problem here?

Anonymous said...

I see a big a--problem here.Lung problems down the road for the by-standers in the area of pepper spray, eye, sight problems later down the road. Way after you have retired or left TYC. I see possiblity of cancer causing agents in this stuff if exposed to it the way we will be exposed to it on dorms, security and education depts.

Anonymous said...

Where's our Ombudsman when we need him?

Anonymous said...

Hiding out with the rest of them!

Anonymous said...

I really would like to see some study on the effectiveness of OC spray on youth. They show you these videos of adults being sprayed, and they immediately fall to the ground and writhe around. That's the effect it has on me, but I was 57 the last time I was hit with it. In real life, I have seen kids hit full in the face with the stuff and keep on coming.

When I was in high school we had coaches who urged us to play on through excruciating pain, and we did. Same in the Corps. As an older adult I have come to see pain avoidance as a positive thing.

Kids are different from adults - duh! Old Salty

Anonymous said...

The use of pepperspray by TYC was restricted because of its danger. The new policy is another example of the TDCJ hacks not putting in policy what they are doing. TYC's policy is still GAP 97.23 which has not be modified. It would be nice if the TDCJ people would read the rules before ignoring them. When someone gets investigated for abuse because a kid got seriously injured, I doubt that "I was just following orders" is going to save them. Jim Hurley will just say it again - "TYC staff just doesn't do what they are told and that is not what they were instructed to do."

Anonymous said...

One of the practices ended by Morales v. Turman was in fact the use of Mace. In an especially heated exchange during his deposition, TYC director James Turman acknowledged that using Mace was policy, and he tried, pretty unsuccessfully, to defend it.

The case exposed some really horrible examples where kids suffered severe burns from Mace.

One case that got a lot of attention was a kid who was sprayed repeatedly at point blank range in an isolation cell. He wound up in a mental institution, if memory serves.

This kid's case was described in a book called Weeping in the Playtime of Others: America's Incarcerated Children, by a journalist named Kenneth Wooden. The book came out in the late 70s and a new edition came out in 2000.

I would highly recommend it b/c it surveys facilities across the nation, not just Texas, in the 70s... and it has a lot to say about private contract facilities too. Unfortunately, Wooden's book is still relevant. Go look it up on Amazon.

Bill Bush, UNLV

Anonymous said...

6:27 pm. The use of pepper spray was not restricted because it was dangerous. TYC's pepper spray is not as powerful as the spray the police use and what you can find over the counter. The problem was that staff were using pepper spray excessively. At Hamilton certain staff were bringing outside sources of pepper spray in order to beat the weighing system. The weighing system was used to record whether or not a staff used too much spray.

Used properly, and I stress the word properly because many staff abused the use of it, it can be an effective means of restraining a youth who is violent and may injure himself or others. However, if many dorms and campuses where run properly with adequate staffing then they would be less dangerous.

The reason many dorms are dangerous is because of low staff ratios, high staff turnover (can't keep quality experienced staff), and staff not adequately experienced in how to verbally de-escalate a situation (instead they often get into verbal power struggles, which means the student has already won), and have no clue (lack of training, authority, and appropriate accountability) how to establish and facilitate a positive peer culture.

Staff should be re-trained from the bottom up. Staff should be allowed to do their job without PA's and Management having to emasculate them and take over all the time. Staff have a learned helplessness that has been facilitated by poor management. Too many people power tripping instead of developing and mentoring people and empowering them to do their job.

Control is an illusion! You must convince the students that it is in their best interests (short term and long) that staff are in control (after all when it comes to numbers their are more of them than their are of us). You do this by showing them that your yes means yes, your no mean no (firm and consistent) and that you listen and make balanced judgments and correct your own mistakes (fairness).

Unfortunately, TYC grew too fast Youth Activity Supervisors became "Corrections Officers" thus many staff (who have no clue about morales vs. turman) now believe that it is their job to "correct" or "punish" the youth. What is in a name? Just one's perception and in TYC perception is reality.

Anonymous said...

9:03 p.m. has an enormous amount of insight, whoever he/she is...

Anonymous said...

9:03, I'd like to know why you aren't running TYC. It sounds to me like you have the answers and our current leaders need to think like you do.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, we've had to resort to the use of an organic agent to get the message across to these violent boys who resort to beating down Hispanic boys and breaking their jaws. The violence in TYC facilities is unmanageable given current resources, and/or a lack thereof; thus we must do something. The agent we are using is candy as compared to the hard core agent TDCJ uses. We just need to understand that the use is temporary (hopefully) and that better staff interventions through intensive training AND RETENTION, coupled with appropriate staff-to student ratios that allows for building therapeutic relationships to ENSURE a safe culture is , and should be, the ultimate goal. Excellent point 9:03. I'm with you on that point.

Anonymous said...

6:27
Hit the nail on the head. Kids will cooperative most of the time when you speak to them with like they are human. Their are to many chiefs in TYC that get power jobs and abuse them. I have seen wonderful staff turn into monsters once they advance in the system.
I would assume by their actions that this is the first time most of them have ever had any authority on a job and they let it go to their head with staff and kids.
You can get people to work for you instead of aganist you with kind words and fairness. You can be a hard a... and get away with it if you are fair and consistant with all involved. You can not beat down staff and kids and get respect from anybody.
You have to stop and listen to the other side and make the best decision that benifits both parties. Most of these "new bosses" will not listen to what is really being said.
There is more to being in charge of staff and students than pushing your new found position around. Maybe one day TYC will learn that.

Anonymous said...

To 9:58, 9:03 and everyone else:

...better staff interventions through intensive training AND RETENTION, coupled with appropriate staff-to student ratios that allows for building therapeutic relationships to ENSURE a safe culture is , and should be, the ultimate goal.

How could anyone disagree with those ideas and goals? But don't forget the most important thing-the quality of the frontline staff and the facility leadership. I'm not referring to education levels or even intelligence. I'm thinking in terms of committment to the goal and the willingness to do what is required to reach that ultimate goal.

Maybe you've heard this story:
Once upon a time there was a TYC facility. Let's call it Al Price. AP was closed down due to damage from a hurricane. Before the facility reopened ALL the staff at AP attended weeks of training and retraining. Education, Treatment, Corrections and even Administration were involved with the intensive training. For week after week and even as the youth began to return, the TYC CO sent everything they had in order to give the AP staff all the support and expertise available. When the facility's youth population was eventually back to pre-hurricane levels, CO continued to send staff to follow up on the original hundreds of training hours and assist AP in any way as needed.

The majority of the AP staff verbalized their committment to each other and the kids in their care. They were proud. CO patted them on the back. CO patted itself on the back. It was a New World Order (cue the music)and everyone lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

OOPS!! The ending really goes: As soon as CO was out of the way most everyone at AP put away their smiling masks and training notebooks so they could get back to...whatever it is they do down there. (I could tell you but this isn't supposed to be a horror story).

Even given an ideal situation--weeks of intensive training; gradual repopulation (for a long time there were more staff than youth); steady follow up and ongoing support--the AP campus slowly but surely reverted back to being the stinkin' cesspool it was before the hurricane.

So, boys and girls, the moral of the story is: Before you get carried away believing you can make a silk purse from a sow's ear or chicken salad from chicken S**T, be sure you're working with top-of-the-line quality ingredients. THE END

Sincerely,
Casper

Anonymous said...

Interesting concept: using spray or ANY OTHER method in TYC PROPERLY tends to work... been there for use of spray to prevent injury to student or staff (or both), but also for compelling arbitrary compliance by staff. Misuse cost the proper use.
Of course, nobody has any idea about "proper" now.

Anonymous said...

A group of prison experts from the European Union toured TDCJ adult prisons last year and when I asked some of them about their experience , they all said they were horrified they use pepper spray . It isn't used in European prisons, makes you wonder how they get by without it , could it be their treatment of prisoners is more humane ? That would cause the incarcerated to behave better in the first place . That goes for juveniles as well as adults .

Anonymous said...

7/29 @ 10:03pm

You sound like you're at GNS!

Anonymous said...

Prisons are operated differently than those in the US. I have observed their methods. Their convicts normally only "act out" one time. The do not like the reaction to their inappropriate action.

The "OC incapacitating agent" is very effective and is only a temporary effect. When used properly (accomplished by training and sanctions for those who do not comply with proper use), injuries sustained by officers and violators, are greatly reduced.

"TYC kids" must be corrected when they become aggressive(Remember some of these "kids" have committed serious acts against other human beings). TYC staff do not get paid to become recipients of "kids" acting out"(physical violence against staff).

An institution must provide a safe, secure environment to operate before any hope of the rehabilitaion process can be EFFECTIVE! Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

defense technologies federal laboratories is he parent company

the brand is first defense

it is a water based oleoresin capsicum spray

your basic law enforcement/corrections grade pepperspray what would you like to know about it????


there is documentation where in he right situations this will reduce injuries i will try to get it posted shortly but its not a fix for everything..

Anonymous said...

Re the comments about Al Price. Maybe it should prove instructive for those who wish to move facilities into urban areas that the two institutions with the most chronic abuse problems were Hamilton (Bryan/College Station) and Al Price (Beaumont).

Cathy said...

I am skeptical that TYC is tracking recidivism and other releasee information as they should be. Our county department is trying to track that data and have found that individual probation departments (esp. juvenile) are doing a better job of tracking and having accurate numbers to report. It appears that the individual counties are concerned about the impact that kids being released back into their population have but TYC has washed their hands of responsibility. TYC's data and stats are close to being laughable and are painting inaccurate (dangerous) pictures.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you anon 9:03, you described our facility to a tee. It was Tamayo House until May 14, 2007. How do I know, I work there. Leadership, Ms. Dick, was behind us 100%. Staff believed in the program, youth respected staff and the program, and we enjoyed coming to work. We did not need Ms. Dick to sit over us and she never did, but if we needed her support, she was there. She gave hope to youth who had none. We work with the younger youth. Some as young as 12. Ask us how many restraints we have had to do in the past 5-7 years. I know I use to work in other TYC facilities and it was a daily occurance. How many youth escape from Tamayo House? Look at it before Ms. Dick came, and how it is now that she is gone. I can tell you, we have to deal with youth who cuss us out, feel hopeless and some who ask us daily when is she coming back. Between the JCO staff and youth, we want to have her back. She was suspended for postage, UPS? Now they are saying we were not trained right? If we are not trained right, than how is it our facility ran the way it did. How is it that youth and staff did not get injured? Moral is down, for staff and youth. But that does not matter, she was exactly what the new direction is about, but now she is gone. We all fear for our jobs to speak out about this unjustice done, we have been threatened with our jobs. Our pride is gone.

Anonymous said...

Grits,
According to the Gov't code, the Conservator is required to give reports to the Gov and the Legislative Audit Committee every 60 days.

§ 2104.024. REPORT. (a) The conservator shall report on
a conservatorship under this subchapter to the governor and the
legislative audit committee not later than the 60th day after the
date the governor orders the conservatorship and at the end of each
subsequent 60-day period until the conservatorship is dissolved.
(b) The report must include a description of the measures
taken to ensure that the state agency complies with state fiscal
management policies and an estimate of the progress the conservator
has made in attaining that goal.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.
Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 237, § 1, eff. May 28, 1999.

That would be this week as near as I can tell. Perhaps TYC has just stopped posting the Conservator's reports now that JK is out of the picture?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If the last report was on May 2, 60 days would have been July 2 - they're at least a month behind.

Anonymous said...

You are kidding yourself if you think that the new TYC Administrators are going to put anything in writing regarding the state of the Agency unless they are forced to do so by the Legislature. Since that probably will not happen, TYC will be left flapping in the wind until the next session, and then TDCJ will have another couple of years to dodge the political bullet. Since we are quoting SB103, what about the mandated training for staff that should already be taking place and the 19 year olds that should already been out of the facilities? The new regime has taken us from an Agency that needed help to an Agency that needs put out of it's misery.

Anonymous said...

The Texas Government Code contemplates that a conversatorship is an appropriate remedy to alleviate the "fiscal mismanagement" of a state agency.

Do the allegations of sexual abuse & ensuing coverup equate to a "fiscal mismanagement?" This application is tenous, at best.

So if the creation of the conservatorship is dubious in the first place, should we then be suprised that the other subsections of the relevant code are not followed?

The real problem is in the enforcement of the code. Who has standing to point out that the code has not been followed (with respect to issuing the conservator's report)?

Better yet, who has standing to challenge the conservatorship in the first place? Is it the legislature? Is it the taxpayer? Is it a plaintiff in a wrongful termination suit?

If there is no penalty for not complying with the code, no one will comply!

Signed,
"ReVamp"

Anonymous said...

5:32, that wasn't a quote from SB 103, but the section of the Gov't Code that defines conservatorship.