At least five wardens from adult Texas prisons will transfer to work in senior positions at the Texas Youth Commission over the next few months, reports The Back Gate, a Texas prison-guard run blog, attributing the information to an unnamed source at the Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) central office in Hunstville. The Back Gate reported:
The Backgate Website confirmed information today obtained through a source in Huntsville that stated that at least five current TDCJ wardens will be hired by the new Texas youth Commission's head man, Ed Owens in the next few months. At least one has already left TDCJ employment and is currently in Austin working for the agency in an unknown administrative capacity.Especially troubling is the assertion that the wardens who might transfer to TYC are "not the highest quality staff that TDCJ could offer the beleaguered agency," though since the names of the wardens aren't revealed I'm not sure how the writer could know that. Still, that makes sense too, at least from TDCJ's perspective: What agency would give up its best managers? In those cases, typically you'd rather hand off your problems.
For those of you that have not been keeping up with the ongoing situation, Governor Rick "good hair" Perry recently appointed Owens to direct the youth commission in it's new and improved direction. But anyone who has worked for TDCJ longer than 2 years knows full well just how big a mistake that appointment was. Owens was TDCJ's assistant director under Brad Livingston, and was always well known as an example in how not to manage people, or to make good decisions.
The Backgate has also learned that the wardens in question, which Owens has hand picked, are not the highest quality staff that TDCJ could offer the beleguered agency. Most have management difficulties themselves,which is something that TYC doesn't need at this point.
TDCJ, which has long been predicted to take over operations of TYC facilities , seems to be moving one step closer to accomplishing that goal. TDCJ office of inspector general staff (TDCJ internal affairs) has now been designated as the investigative arm of the TYC now, and has even offered up one of it's own to head that agencies top law officer post.
As an editorial to this piece, all I can say is that i truly feel for the staff of TYC. I am also angered by the governor's decision to appoint a man to head TYC that couldn't even get his own agency straight prior to leaving there. TDCJ is in the worst shape it has been in since it's inception back in the 1800's with employee issues, low morale, and non-existent upper level management support. Not to mention the agencie's continual barrage of vacancy postings it publishes every month that still number near 3,000 officers , the same stats they held 3 years ago.
TDCJ loses on average 500-600 officers per month , and suffers even more from a wave of supervisor self demotions that have left the agency scrambling to fill vacant on units posts. Sometimes those posts are filled with rookie , un-experienced staff members due to the lack of interest in those positions by the seasoned staff.
I say to you Texas legislators that read this website, it's time to put the brakes on this move, fix one agency before to shift the problems to another to ruinthat one too !
In any event, if true this decision by conservator Ed Owens continues a lamentable trend already under way where staff from Texas adult prisons have filled most empty slots in top TYC management, bypassing employees who've spent years in juvenile justice and in most cases failing even to post jobs to seek outside qualified candidates.
Not only does it smack of cronyism and ensure top managers will require steep learning curves to change their approach (juvenile justice is a whole different ball game compared to running an adult prison), but as the Back Gate notes, TDCJ is a poorly run agency in its own right.
If it's true the folks they ship over turn out not to be the sharpest knives in the drawer, that can only add to TYC's struggles. Mr. Owens and Co. need to re-think this approach and begin hiring juvenile justice pros in senior management slots, not just limit the applicant pool to their friends and folks they personally know.