Here's a Grits post generated entirely from intelligence provided by intrepid commenters on the subject of why it's a bad idea to oust senior TYC managers with juvenile justice experience and replace them with people who know nothing about kids. According to Grits commenter Dr. Bill Bush, a juvenile justice historian from UNLV, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice may have finally accomplished through stealth what it could not achieve over many decades in the political process: Taking over the Texas Youth Commission. Wrote Bush:
Twice in TYC's history - in the 1950s and the late 60s / early 70s - there were serious proposals on the table to place youth facilities under the direct supervision of TDCJ (then TDC).Here are the top agency individuals identified by TYC employees in Grits comments as TDCJ transplants, most of whom were hired with no job posting or job interview so TYC employees or others with experience in the field couldn't even compete for the positions:
So it is ironic that this has now been accomplished in a de facto fashion - by simply appointing TDCJ people to the most important leadership positions over TYC.
Also bizarre: if the root problem was a perceived overdependence on prison-like features, why would anyone think bringing in TDCJ people was a good solution?
Like the Kimbrough report's recommendations, this privatization scheme smacks of a concern with short term maintenance (and appearance) of order. And it seems arbitrary and unrelated to the well being of the kids - as many posters have already pointed out.
There is no clear reason to farm out any of TYC's functions to private providers. It doesn't demonstrably save money or improve the treatment of kids. In the past, private facilities have been mostly disasters. Why do this, and especially why now?
- Conservator Ed Owens
- Executive Director Dimitria Pope
- Chief of Staff Mickey Neel - came from AZ but was a former employee of Pope and the Research and Evaluation Department (RED) at TDCJ
- Training Director Marty Martin - he was Pope's assistant director at the RED group
- Inspector General Bruce Toney
- Human Resources Director Mary Wood.
- Superintendent of Education - Judi Benestante *TDCJ through 2005
- Deputy Director of Residential Services Billy S. Humphrey - former TDCJ training director, past warden at the Galveston prison hospital and before that TDCJ's Rufus Duncan unit.
[New TYC General Counsel] Steve Foster, family friend of Jay Kimbrough even calls him Uncle Jay, Wade Phillips went to school with Steve, and then two new attorneys that were old law school buddies that no one has bothered to introduced to anyone.I should caveat that I've not confirmed these each individually, but several TYC employees have doublechecked each other's recollections on this score and from what I can tell the above list accurate. It's no wonder they want to privatize huge chunks of TYC's various functions - they likely don't have the first clue how to operate such programs themselves.
Juvie corrections and running adult prisons are completely different animals, and at this point most of the people leading Texas' youth prison agency don't have the first bit of experience dealing with the subject. The Governor's appointees as conservator - first Jay Kimbrough and now Ed Owens - both seem to feel TYC should simply model itself on adult corrections models (as Dr. Bush pointed out, the opposite of what's needed). In this writer's view that's a recipe for catastrophe.
Please let me know in the comments a) who else at TYC recently transferred from TDCJ in managerial positions, and b) what you think about stacking TYC managment with adult corrections professionals and will that benefit or harm the agency and the kids?
By replacing top managers with cronies from TDCJ, the new TYC brass clearly hopes legislators, the press and the public will confuse activity for achievement. For my money, I think their actions so far are likely making things worse, not better, for kids and staff at the facilities where the really important work gets done.
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