Monday, September 03, 2007

Dr. Bill Bush: Committee showed "blatant double standard" to TYC critics

Dr. Bill Bush of UNLV, an academic who's writing a book on the history of the Texas Youth Commission, offered these observations about last week's joint legislative oversight committee hearing in the comments to this post. Since his comment was #50 in a post nearly a week old, I thought I'd post his observations of the hearing here so everyone would see them. See also Bush's recent Grits guest column comparing current problems at the agency to those experienced by TYC thirty-plus years ago.

Bush offered these reactions in the blog's comments, not as a formally written piece, so forgive its relative informality. I'm so close to some of these people, issues and processes, it was a good reality check to see what an outsider thought of last Wednesday's dog and pony show. Here's what Professor Bush had to say:
I finally watched several parts of last week's hearing.

The Owens/Pope testimony was exactly as everyone here has described. A lot of broad and suspect claims about progress. The most precise evidence given was the lower number of inmates. The discussions of key issues like use of force, a rehab program, and staffing shortages, were overly general. I'm left feeling like I still don't really know what is going on with TYC, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment for an 8-hour hearing.

It's clear that most of the committee is very invested in the current admin's success. This was evidenced in the blatant double standard applied to statements by TYC (questioned very little) and by its critics (questioned a lot). Wasn't credulous acceptance of agency statements how these geniuses got into this mess?

Maybe they don't have any interest in having a substantial Sunset Review at all, and they want SB103 to be the last word. That's my impression, they think their work is mainly done. It's "fixed." Miller Time. Huzzah.

It was disappointing and a little sickening to watch them shout down or intimdate anyone who presented information that conflicted with an obviously pre-fabricated conclusion that things are progressing swimmingly - even to the point of real absurdity.

Senator Whitmire might want to sit down with Ben Barnes, who as Lt Governor during a TYC investigation in the late 1960s behaved almost exactly the way Sen Whitmire did the other day, ultimately to the state's cost, since the Morales lawsuit came about two years later.

I was especially appalled at the sophomoric treatment of the Harris County monitor when she pointed out the lack of a rehab plan and criticized the use of pepper spray. Frankly, I wish she hadn't "apologized" and backtracked when challenged by Sen Whitmire and others. She said that she wished TYC would spend as much on staffing and training new staff in mediation as it is on pepper spray, and the response was to quiz her for dollar figures, to enthuse that pepper spray is "pretty cheap" after all, and to call her statement "irresponsible." Well, how revealing.

Here is a seasoned juvenile justice professional who has clearly been working extremely hard (450+ interviews with juvies in just a few months!) and has tons of first-hand information to present the committee, and she's treated like a bomb-throwing hippie. To call this performance disgraceful would be too charitable.

Obviously criticism of post-SB103 TYC is a full contact sport for thin-skinned legislators. In that spirit, let me suggest that Sen Whitmire's attempt to further discredit the Harris County monitor's testimony by criticizing HC's lack of a monitor for its county JDCs was one of the more pointless, Student Government quality diversionary tactics I've seen in a legislative hearing.

Excuse me, were they gathered there to talk about the county JDC? Did HC go thru a massive abuse scandal that is the slightest bit relevant? Is it in crisis the way TYC is? Why not just do the chicken dance, or jump around in a circle?

How about putting a little more thought into these affairs, so that people with, like, actual information aren't testifying at the end of an 8-hour hearing, when attention spans are clearly fading?

Grits, sorry to depart from my usual tone, but this irritated the living crap out of me. I'm left with the strong impression that the lege simply doesn't care a whole lot about this and would just like it to go away, the sooner the better. I'd love to be proven wrong, but wouldn't bet my last dollar on it.
IMO the good professor can be forgiven for such harsh impressions. His description nails the overall tone of the hearing, which seemed aimed primarily at protecting bungling administrators instead of demanding they do a better job. I don't understand why the joint legislative committee took that approach, but I predict it will come back to bite legislators down the road if problems aren't fixed and they've been less than diligent in their oversight. Next time, they won't have the excuse that they didn't know what was happening.

You can view the 8.5 hour video for yourself here. See also prior Grits coverage of the hearing:

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure pepper spray is cheaper than hiring enough guards. It'd be even cheaper to put a bullet in their ear!

Good God, Sen. Whitmire!

Anonymous said...

You can see on the McFadden thread how well this system has progressed ahead...it hasn't!!

If you look at the thread, it attacks Mr. Wilson, a compassionate human being who with his own money,decided that he needed to travel to Austin to get the abuse out there, what happened from there?? He has been attacked numerous times on the blog, his integrity is in question...this is the atmosphere that exists at McFadden Ranch...Speak up and we will take you down! This double standard, the government telling us "come forward, you will be protected!" Then administartors telling us to shut up or we will lose our jobs! What a mess!!!

BTW...to date, NOTHING has been done to those responsible for the abuse of that youth!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If you don't mind, let's keep the McFadden string on the McFadden string and keep the discussion here to Bill's comments, which didn't address that incident. Thx

Anonymous said...

Sorry grits!

You had it listed under the article.

I don't blame you about wanting to contain it at all...314 posts last time I looked!

Anonymous said...

Basically, all the legislature and conservators have accomplished to date is population reduction, and look where that got us (bunches of youth rearrested). Essentially lowering the age of authority to 19 says we are now even less willing to provide treatment. Many of these kids don't figure out they need help until they mature a little while in TYC and then decide they want to make the best of it (age 17 and 18). Now there will be shorter time periods and more youth will end up being transferred to prison, recidivism rates will increase, and behavior in the institutions will be worse.

Aside from the changes made to the handling of allegations of abuse (which as implemented so far are minimal) the rest of SB 103 was unnecessary and served the primary purpose of actually reducing costs.

The legislature had an opportunity to make major changes. They sought the help of juvenile justice professionals without sincere intent to listen to what they have to say, and we will pay the price as a state through increased crime, increased prison costs, and increased law suits.

Perfect. Sure sounds like a road to reform and a national model for juvenile justice to me...maybe only in Texas.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I did not watch all of the hearing - I was working and the few times I had a chance to listen in, I was so disgusted I had to walk away. Dr. Bush is exactly right in his observations. The only obvious point of that hearing was a pretense of interest. They aren't interested in doing anything except pretending to care and protecting themselves from the mess they created with irresponsible, poorly concieved and poorly written legislation. As numerous other current employees can tell you - this administration is not succeeding and I doubt they are capable of doing so.

Anonymous said...

As evidenced by many commentors on Grits regarding any given TYC topic, most employees have strong feelings and are frustrated at the fact that the agency still has no direction. No treatment or training programs, but we heard at the hearing they are being developed. We had no idea anything was being developed as there is no communication from Austin to the field. It sounded like they had crammed for test all night after they were given the list of questions on the test and barely passed the exam. I'd say they failed it. It was a dog and pony show with Whitmire as the master of ceremonies! I don't know why in the world he would tell them they were doing a great job; other than he got caught up in a "daPope moment."

I completely agree with your assessment of the hearing. At least they cannot accuse you being a disgruntled employee or ex-employee. It's my understanding that the leadership is more determined to find out who is posting on Grits than the reformation of the agency. God forbid they ever find us out because the agency will cease to exsist. This is the only place we give our comments, vent and tell everyone how frustrated we are and hope that someone hears us. We are safe from retaliation, or we dare to hope we are. Do I have solutions, sure, do I dare speak up, heck no! The leadership has the floor at all times, nevermind us idiots in the field, what can we possibly have to offer? Why haven't they formed committees for changing the agency with field employees? JCO's, case managers, teachers, diagnosticians and medical staff are most equiped to give them input on what needs to change in order to get the agency on it's feel once again. They work with the youth! Too simple of an idea for the leadership, I suppose!

I pray that someone on that committe soon wakes up from the 20 year nap, or the maggots are going to feast on them!!

My admiration goes to all those that are still holding down the forts and hoping for the best!!! I admire your perservance because in spite of the fact that TYC does not value it's employees, you are still there for the youth in your care and the families you support.

Anonymous said...

I think it's rumor mongering to say our administration is hunting for Grits posters, so as long as you're at home, you have you right to freedom of speech... post all you want. Work is different though.

But back to the hearing, I think the two gems SB103 produced were the office of inspector general and the ombudsman office. Now that September is here, the Ombudsman office can be fully staffed so we'll see how it turns out. The TYC-OIG has been impressive though and a long time coming. There's just no way people could have gotten away with what they did in the past with these guys/girls present. In the long run, the TYC-OIG will be a benefit to both kids and staff.

Other than that, I agree, that hearing was puzzling. I thought there was going to be some drama but they seemed rather passive.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this is something anyone is interested in, but www.ebosswatch.com allows you to rate your boss.

If you work for TYC, I recommend rating Pope.

Whitsfoe said...

Bill,

Have you looked at other states beyond Tejas w/regards to pepper spray; particularly Ohio, Indiana, California? Have you seen the DOJ's CRIPA reports from visits from these states?

To me, it seems like Morales v. Turman is outdated, and a shift in philosophy has taken place. To me, it seems the DOJ has accepted OC use, but I might be reading this wrong. Please clarify. Maybe you can tell us... Is the Morales v. Turman still legit given these DOJ reports?

I agree that Elmer wasn’t his usual self. I won’t spend a punch on the key discussing him (although I just did!)

Not arguing, just bantering,

Whitsfoe

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Do you and/or Dr. Bush have an email address that can be posted?

Anonymous said...

Bill is correct in everything on the Mess here in Texas dealing with TYC. The Lege committee has failed and they are now begining to cover for the "d POPE and Owens or should I say Whitmire is Bulling his way through the whole mess. He doesn't want to step on D Popes toes. I personally think those two know each other from the past.He is too kind to her in the hearings. It is time for the Fed's to take over. You all mark it down on the 3rd day of Sept. on post a comment on Grits for Breakfast, you were told that there will be a BIG LAW SUITe and the Fed's will step in and make mandates and heads will roll. In Texas, and I have been a Texan born and raised here for over 58 years, the Lege. do not like to be told what to do when they make a mistake. In fact they think they are the Texas Rangers, bullet proof from the law. Gov. "Hair Spray, Slick Hair" or what ever you all call him , needs to grab the Bull by the Horns
and take control, because if he doesn't he is going to have the FEds breathing down his throat. AND he better do it QUICK because his Ole buddie GEOrge Bush can only protect him one more year. Bottom line ! This will never be solved the way we are going now. We need the FEd's to jerk Whitmires chain enough that it will give him Whip lash of the neck and then maybe they will work toward some positive solutions to straighting out TYC..

Anonymous said...

"You all mark it down on the 3rd day of Sept."

A federal holiday. Umph?

Today is the 3rd of September.... am I supposed to be looking for a big bang and flash of light?

Ok..........

The "SNAKE" said...

Cowboy, you missed it. YOU WERE TOLD ON THAT DATE that is going to happen! Bet you a knee high soda water and a peanut round! Oh, I am sorry your not old enough to know what that is. By your comment your hugging the D Pope and Whitmire side.

Anonymous said...

This is no surprise, i.e., that Sen whitmire and his cronies are defending Owens/Pope.

Since he is totally ignorant and they are only slightly less ignorant than he is -- DUH!

Anonymous said...

has it not been said that these folks in the lege don't want to publicly acknowledge their past mistakes. these same same people voted in the open bay dorms, funding cuts and personnel cuts. sex in the country did not do tyc in, it was some of the current legies and their farethewell or let's make hay while it's sunny attitudes. evins was a timebomb waiting to go off as early as 1996. fact is, it blew up so bad in 1998 that 2004 looked like a sunday matinee in comparison. where was the lege then? so, i too believe the big lawsuit as well as the Feds are coming. The gov just hopes it comes after he leaves and the legies hope that it comes after they leave office like the rep from the valle.

Anonymous said...

I have not had a chance to sit down and watch all 8 hours but it sounds both entertaining and depressing.
Whitmire, a Senator from Houston, was interrogating the Harris County monitor who is looking out for the Houston kids?
TYC is screwed! Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I do not know Sen. Whitmire. Is he Black? D Pope and Owens I know are Black. Is this why he shows her and Owens mercy and kindness in the hearings? Just a thought. Because there is something there that needs to come out and I can not figure it out.

Anonymous said...

7:18 pm you are correct it's going to happen. 7:00 pm comment, is one of the "good ole boys" that cannot stand it and has to read GRITS regulary to keep up with whats going on in the field and could not stand it ( He had to make a smart a%&$ comment) because he knows the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, Im not this old:

"Bet you a knee high soda water and a peanut round! Oh, I am sorry your not old enough to know what that is." Was that a Beaver Cleaver moment or what?

OK Haskel...

I have to agree. Thanks - I'm not that old.

Anonymous said...

Like I said on another post-staff and kids are at risk and this committee meeting did nothing to make the facilities any safer.

2 things need to happen:

1st-the national guard needs to be activated on behalf of the children of Texas. They need to go to the facilities without guns and help fill in for the staff who are so overworked, that dangerous conditions exit in every facility. There will soon be mass riots-look at what the "children" did to the TDCJ buses when out of the TYC staff's control.
The national guard doesn't have handle with care, but we don't use "physical force" any longer so they can work. I guarantee you they have seen enough in the last 8 years, that no one would to teach them to not be violent with kids and to be a mentor.

2nd-someone needs to federal court and file paperwork for the feds to become temporary guardians of every child in TYC-I don't know how it would be done, but someone has to take control. We can't wait on lawsuits, we can't wait on the lege to jump on someone and we can't force staff to come to work. Staff are bone tired-that is the ones that are not burned out and looking for work elsewhere. Some are calling in because they are physically sick from stress.

Somehow, someone must step in NOW and help or else children or staff will end up dying from the violence that is bubbling under the surface.

Anonymous said...

7:37 pm You are RIGHT ! I hope that smart a %$& 7:36 read your comment. He need \s to really know whats going on. He has know idea by the comments he makes on this blog. Let us all pray for him.

Anonymous said...

Cracking up laughing...

Anonymous said...

Whitsfoe,

There is no suggestion in any recent DOJ or OJJDP materials that pepper spray should be the response of first resort.

I won't argue whether Morales may indeed be "dated," but would point out that it also doesn't rule out use of OC spray completely.

However, if you want to read a real horror show, the NCCD report on the California Youth Authority is available at this URL:

http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/cya_report_2003.pdf

Reading it, one doesn't come away with the impression that expanded use of spray would alleviate the "climate of intense fear" portrayed by the report's author, who just happens to be Barry Krisberg, the guy who also sat on the TYC blue ribbon panel and wrote an op-ed last week slamming the new OC spray policy.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does! Year after year I have seen TYC spiral downward. Currently TYC is much like an air plane nose down at full throttle! You know what’s going to happen you just don’t know exactly how long it will take. Dr. Bill Bush is dead on target and went easy on them!

I think the back room deals have been made regarding TYC and all is progressing nicely. Money will be made in contract care and the focus is off of investigating who knew and did what regarding the West Texas State School sexual abuse case.

I don’t think any of the players are worried about anything biting them in the backside. The average person knows or cares little about TYC and its problems. The politicians know they can spin this tale around to make themselves look good due to the complexity of the TYC fiasco. No doubt the politicians have their designated fall guys in place. The people who take the bullet will be rewarded or discarded. Jay Kimbrough was rewarded with a very nice job at Texas A&M University for the stellar job he did as Conservator of TYC for a few months. Jay did what the Governor needed done and was highly rewarded.

I really feel sorry for all of the people who care so much for the future of the children in TYC. You haven’t figured out Rick Perry and his band of thugs could care less about the children in TYC. If they cared the funding would not have been cut year after year by the Legislature. All of the sudden interest in TYC youth makes me a little suspicious of their motives. The bottom line is all of you can talk and write about this and nothing will change. Forget about what is good, right, and moral because you are dealing with scoundrels. The players in this game are bad people and all you can ever expect from them is bad.

The eight hour hearing is a prime example of what I am talking about. Much to do about nothing would be a good description of the hearing. All they did was praise their minions and discredit those who would speak against them.

If you work for TYC and post on this blog pray they never figure out who you are. They will deal with you. They do watch this blog in TYC CO and try to figure out where the leaks are so they can plug them. Don’t post to the blog from work because they have a way of flagging people who access this web site and can see what you post. Scott you might want to open record any documents relating to your blog and internal emails about tracking people visiting your blog.

Good luck folks, I hope all of you can find closure somewhere in this terrible story as it plays out. Even though what you think, say, or do about TYC will have little impact on the final outcome at least you tried. You can feel good that you stepped up when the TYC children needed you to. Just understand the deck is stacked against you and you will never win. In fact you could lose a great deal if you are not careful! You could be fired and no other state agency would hire you. You could wreck your family emotionally and financially. Hope you know when to walk away…..

By - FTM

Anonymous said...

I attended one of the information meetings that Ms. D-Pope and others from Central Office conducted early this summer. I was struck by a few things that I heard at the meeting. First, all the promises of how TYC is going to be a better place for the youth and staff alike. Secondly, the discussion on how TYC was going to implement a new program for the youth. None of that has happened! We still do not have a substantial program for the youth now that the "Resocialization Program" has been tossed out. Just a watered down version of Resocialization. There continues to be poor planning, no information given to staff and contradictory policies. In particular, regarding the use of pepper spray.
What was most disturbing about the Central Office meeting was the amount of fawning and brown-nosing that was taking place by Ms. D-Pope's appointees (most all from TDCJ) to Ms. D-Pope. It was as if they were trying to one-up each other' "glowing praise" of Ms. D-Pope.
I am disgusted by the massive release of youth who never completed treatment, and were not appropriate for release. I know of a sex offender who was released from TYC because he was over the age of 19. Never mind the fact that he never completed Sex Offender treatment and had numerous incidents of inappropriate sexual contact while in TYC! How will the legislature explain to the people of that Texas community why TYC dumped a sexual deviant in their midst.

Sal Costello said...

Great job Grits! Thanks for pushing this issue in front of the mass media!

Anonymous said...

Well said 9:45 PM. As one of those who got the proverbial ax in the neck, wish I had walked away sooner. I'm to the point that I ashamed to say I worked for TYC and the state in general for that matter. Oh well, movin on like the rest.

Anonymous said...

Grits,
Thank you for keeping the TYC issue alive for all of us that really care and question the direction of the current leaders. Hiring without job postings or interviews, no treatment program, in fact, no program, and as far as i am concerned they are probably monitoring me typing this message right now.

What they don't understand is our roots. You know, COME AND TAKE IT, REMEMBER THE ALAMO, and presently I will add, "ya'll (texan for you all) bring it on!!!

We are in deep s*&^!!!

I do not think I will last too much longer.

A cardboard sign and mowing yards are starting to look like the better option.

I have got to be able to get up in the morning and look myself in the mirror with pride. And I am trying to figure out a way to sleep through the night.

I heard something today that will allow me to file a grievance on behalf of all youth in TYC if the management actually do what they say they are going to do in about 2 weeks.

So I will consult with the omsbudsman regarding this if it occurs.

Thank you Bill Bush, and thank you Grits, and thank you Howard Hickman. You guys are the the new Crockett, Travis, and Bowie in my opinion.

Do not in the Spirit of Texas, let this part of Texas Die!!!

whitsfoe said...

Bill,

First and foremost, I have all the respect in the world for your comments here. I wasn't countering your opinion on OC or Morales.

But I think one thing needs to be understood, and that's the fact pepper spray is not "the response of first resort" under the current continuum of force.

Officer presence, verbal de-escalation, and then handcuffs and off to security for a time-out come well before the use of pepper spray.

If all those interventions fail and the situation escalates to the point where the youth is a clear and present danger to others (and sometimes himself), and refuses the last request to submit to handcuffs for a timeout in security, and it looks like he's going to be a fighter to get off that dorm, and about 23 other youth are "cheerleading him on," whadda do? Fight him to get the cuffs on (which is where all these injuries to both staff and students occur), or do you clear the audience, talk to the kid a little longer, and then if he still looks like he wants to fight no matter what, and is still tearing up the place, spray him, back off, continue to ask him to lay down so the cuffs can be applied so they can get him to decontamination as soon as possible?

The use of force continuum used to direct a physical restraint before pepper spray. How logical is that when some of these kids that we feed very well are facing off against a starved staff because the state doesn't pay them squat?

And I know Henson, you have a valid point: why not focus more energy on increasing staff to student rations as that seems to be the center point of the problem to begin with?

You’re correct in that respect. But we’re not there yet, and in order to lower the number of staff that are out due to injuries from physical restraints, we have to have numbers to turn the tide.

My hope is that the use of peppers spray is temporary. If the agency is using it like now next year, then I'd say we’ve got a problem because that plan didn't work.

When we can get to a true 1:12 ratio, where we are supervising kids and building relationships, keeping qualified staff who know what they're doing as opposed to one staff managing a "group" and "guarding," then I won't see a need for this in the long haul.

Anonymous said...

I have never posted before, but I feel like I must say something although anonymous as I need my job. The behavior in the facilities is so out of control it is unbelievable. I feel like I am going into a war zone daily. It is all nice and good to talk about training, and rights, and best practices, but what we need now is HELP. We are drowning. Staff and teachers are worn down and out. Oh, and that 12 to 1 ratio--that is a joke in the classroom. It is more like a 18-24 to 1 with usually no staff due to shortages. I have been with TYC for 10 years, but it is a REAL burden daily to go to work. All these people are making all these decisions, but NO ONE is helping us!!!! We have emailed and begged Senators, Texas Rangers, Central Office, to come and just spend a day (in unofficial dress) in the classroom or the dorm to see the the REAL torment and chaos that happens daily. They won't come. It is so dangerous in our facilities right now to both the students and the employees, and everyone is worried about all this collateral "crap". Mark my words, if help doesn't come quickly there are going to be many more serious problems than pepper spray and training hours. There are going to be all out riots and possibly even fatal injuries.

Name it said...

What facility 7:19? No harm in mentioning and you're safe here. Like to visit.

Anonymous said...

7:19
I work at TYC and have been to the facilities on duty, and I agree with everything you say. The legislature got a too rosy picture last week.

Houtston (Texas), we've got a problem!" are words that I think of right now.

I am having a difficult time coping with this knowledge and it is scratching on my ethics of my profession.

Anonymous said...

Ms Pope told the lege that we had 1:12 ,"and better than that, some places..." Oh yeah? Where, Ms Pope? I've been checking around with colleagues at various campuses- I have yet to find a report of consistent 1:12 anywhere. The only times we are coming close is where they work staff 12 hour shifts 2-3 times or more per week. Any of those supposed 500 new staff that get hired won't even begin to be in the count before the end of this year.

I'm tired of all the lies. I am going to retire before the next election, and I am going to go very public with what I know.

Beware, Mr. Whitmire, there are many employees like me who are collecting times, dates and facts, and these will become part of the next election campaign. You had better be satisfied with representing your current district, because if you try to go for statewide office, it will all come rolling out.

You'd better consider going back into the archives and cleaning up some of the side comments you made about Harris county. Doing that will keep some of it out, but many of us have made our own archives. Who knows, you may even be vulnerable in your own district?

Anonymous said...

Whitsfoe,

First, my apologies if I came across as defensive. I'm not even close to being omniscient and have no problem with someone pointing out my mistakes or something I've overlooked.

And I would never pretend to know more than staff about the day to day realities shaping decisions about pepper spray or use of force.

Truthfully, I have learned a ton from reading all of your comments over the last several months. This site has informed my reading of historical documents and tempered my interpretations of staff actions in juvenile correctional facilities in the distant and recent past.

Historians who study kids often say that it's very, very difficult to gain access to the voices of kids from the past, that they are among the least visible historical figures. But a close second has to be the, for lack of a better phrase, "direct care" staff who have worked with them in institutional settings... probably the equivalent of today's JCOs.

The experts and professionals who set policy we know a lot about. But the ground level staff are largely nameless and almost always voiceless.

All too many times they have carried out the most horrendous abuses, but at other times staff turn up in the record who covertly tried to help kids and their parents in untenable situations where "least worst options" were the only ones available. These places were ruled by fear and intimidation, not just of the kids but of the staff too.

Given the crisis tone we're seeing here from some staff, I get the sense that this climate may be returning and we may not be talking about pepper spray much longer anyway... though honestly, I hope I'm wrong about that.

Bill Bush

whitsfoe said...

We need to bring families back in the equation Bill, before they reach the TYC. The ledge needs to fund the counties. More prevention programs, less slam-the-gavel. Fund the counties. I think juvenile crime can be prevented if funded properly thus making our discussion a moot point. Whitsfoe.

Anonymous said...

Crockett,Mart II,Gainesville to name a few

Anonymous said...

Whitsfoe, check out the DOJ CRIPA letter on LA County Detention. Nothing pro-pepper spray in that letter.

7:21, Senator Whitmire is WHITE. Get a grip. Your conspiracy theory is waaaay off base. If you really think some Black mafia is running Texas, please pass whatever you're smoking down my way.

Anonymous said...

I regret to post without my name, but this is such a sadly vicious comunity on Grits I will not offer my identity and alow the wolves here to feed and distract from what's most important.

Please let us all never forget to pray and care for the kids in the custody of TYC tonight.

Also, let the first without sin cast the first stone.

To be continued....

Anonymous said...

1:39 Thank you for your insight and words of wisdom. May all of our prayers over the youth and TYC staff be united and heard.

Anonymous said...

"Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous."

Will Rogers

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whitsfoe, D. Pope told the Lege unequivocally staffing ratios are down to 12-1 at all units. If that's true, there's no justification for current pepper spray policies. Personally I don't believe that for a second, btw, but that's the public contention.

That's part of what I don't like about the pepper spray policy. It's proposed as a best practice when it's considered such nowhere. The only justification for it is understaffing, which TYC admin won't admit occurs. So there's a whiff of hypocrisy surrounding the pronouncement.

Plus, the new policy requires staff to pepper spray a student every time before they lay hands on them. My guess is that there's a range of circumstances that require that, and not all are the scenario you describe with a fighter - noncompliance comes in many forms. Requiring pepper spray first in every incident is a nearly insane policy, but that's what the Aug. 2 memo says.

I hope you're right the policy is rescinded in a year, but you're the first person I've heard suggest that. Pope and Whitmire sounded like they thought it was the perfect solution to all ills. And "cheap" too. :-(

Anonymous said...

With such chaos in the hallways and dorms, I would like to know how we think that as TYC we are helping the youth prepare for the free world? When kids are allowed to verbally abuse every adult that they come in contact with, with such vicious degrading language, expose themselves in classrooms with no consequences, display constant gang affiliation and retaliation and again no consequences, tell me, how are we helping these youth? There is very little compliance at all on the part of the youth, because there is very little that happens for non-compliance. Staff and teachers are so war weary that the few that have stayed to ride out the storm have very little energy left. It is so easy to make all these decisions from afar, but without firsthand "walking in their shoes" experience it is really just useless chatter. If pepper spray will get control--bring it on. If decision makers can get control--bring it on. Just make TYC a safe, non-combatant place where we can make a difference in the life of these youth and hopefully keep them out of TDCJ. During this chaos right now, all we are doing is encouraging the same combative gang type behavior from the streets. Right now, many of the hallways and dorms resemble the streets of the hoods.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@5:33 - So are you advocating pepper spray in response to verbal abuse? To attitudes and affiliations? I don't think OC can solve that. Those are relationship issues, into which pepper spray only injects fear and resentment. Control is a myth - you don't control them, for the most part; they must be taught self-control.

As for your comment that nobody but a JCO gets to have an opinion, welcome to the blogosphere. The days are past when treatment of youth in TYC is an insider issue that doesn't concern the public. Irresponsible and criminal behavior by your co-workers has seen to that. Get used to it.

Finally, part of the problem IS the dorms - they need private cells/rooms. But nobody wants to talk about revamping facilities because it's expensive (as is increasing staffing), while pepper spray is "cheap." Not as cheap as a "bullet in the ear," as the first commenter noted (that would also "work"), but apparently cheap enough.

Anonymous said...

You must first have control; then you may be able to teach them something. Without control you have TYC today.

Anonymous said...

I have asked this question before but I don't think it was answered so I am going to submit it again. I would also like to point out that I am not a TYC employee so please forgive my ignorance on this subject.
I read in one of the comments that the Use of Force Continuum is laid out in the steps: Staff presence, verbal instruction, mechanical restraint, oc spray, physical restraint and then full body restraint. I don't undertand how the JCO's are expected to get a defiant kid into mechanical restraints without using some form of physical restraint. Why pepper spray would be needed if the kid is in a mechanical restraint. Now if staff follows the mechanical and oc spray then why would they need to use a physical or full body restraint on a kid who has been cuffed and sprayed?
I don't have any experience in this area and I ask out of sincere interest? It seems on paper at least that this would just cause more hostility and resentment with the kids which ultimately puts the JCO's at great risk.
I understand that the facilities are in crisis and the JCO's definitely need a safer environment so they can do their job effectively but did they have any say in this at all?

Anonymous said...

Thank you 12:32 because I think you are one of the few that get it. I did not say that pepper spray is the "cure-all". I said that we need HELP!! I also said that unless you walk in the halls daily and see the abuse the staff take you can't begin to understand it. Relationship is crucial to our jobs, but relationships can't take place in chaos. Self control can't take place in chaos. Oh and by the way, our dorms are single cell and there is STILL no control because of ratio and staffing. The hallways and the dorms have turned into the streets. There is no rehabilitation taking place to prepare these youth for the free world. While most of the public is getting caught up in the OC vs restraint debate, we at the facilities are falling farther and farther behind in this in securing this "new and improved" TYC.

Anonymous said...

I have to re-apply for my job! One person just showed up this week with no job interview, no job posting, no application, no competition, nothing!

Did I say I have to re-apply for my job!

OK. So I guess if I do not get it I should apply for some others as well.

It is what it is. Certainly I am not appreciated now.

Grits, A whiff of hiprocrasy? How about a smoke trail so wide that no matter where you go in Texas there is smoke! You do not have to be professional fire fighter to see this.

All I can say is, I am glad I am not in trouble with the law, I am glad no one in my family is in trouble with the law (at this time) and no one I know is in trouble with the law as a juvenile. Because the care they get per this new administration and legislature is apalling.

No treatment program, no 1:12 staffing ratios for the most part, no moral, no leadership, and no knowledge of rehabilitation, no posting of important positions, no anything.

again did i say no anything!

What we have here is a house of cards, an empty house. nada.

When I was a youth my card houses always fell apart after awhile.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bush,

If you're interesed you might want to visit the Texas Senate Finance Committee and House Corrections Committee Video archives to see what the previous TYC adminstration presented to the Legislature during the Legislative appropriation process.

House Corrections Hearing: 02/08/07, 1:15-3:50 pm TYC testimony start point 1.02.48.

Senate Finance Committee:
02/01/07 - Part II- TYC testimony start point 21.4

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:42,

The use of force is supposedly progressive and measured. If a kid stops doing whatever he is doing and lets you put on the hancuffs then you don't spray him. If he stops after the spray and lets you cuff him then you don't restrain him.

The old system had some serious flaws but at least it was a system. The new, Pope-ification system, works in the wrong direction. It teaches these critters that you can tell somebody a minimum of 13 times "to go F### themselves" before any action is taken to belay their attitude. When these kids try that method in the real world they will get beaten down or worse.

The old system tried to teach these kids "empathy". It's approach was moronic, but at least it tried.

I worked at the TYC for 6 years and my last official day was the 31st of August. I did my time and know what "MY" facility was like and I didn't like the picture I got of the direction we were headed.

VFCA is slated to recieve 96 more students. It is 7 teachers short and can't staff the dorms at current levels much less with a 50% increase. The place is already in chaos because of central office. These kids know that they can do almost anything they want to do or not do and CO will still send them home when their time is up. I don't agree with CO and my facility was already becoming extraordinarily dangerous because of this policy shift so I left.

God may bless the people that stayed but I pity them. They are good peple but so are the people that left. We that left saw the light at the end of the tunnel and figured out it wasn't a train but something much worse! DaPope mobile from TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

6:21...I know exactly who you are, and you know who I am because I am temporarily doing the job you just left (or at least trying to.)

Thanks for shedding some light on a dark subject. I agree with you that TYC has become a dangerous place to work, but I've hung in there far too long to give up now. The way I see it, things couldn't possibly get much worse, so it is bound to get better at some point. I'm sure I'll still be there when that happens, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Right now, knowing that we are getting 96 more kids at our facility feels more like job security than anything else, and after all the talk about closure, I am starting to think they (CO and the lege) are going to need Victory Field a whole lot more than they once thought. I going to pray that is the case.

Good luck in your new job, you deserve all the best. Wish us luck my friend...It looks like we going to need it. I am going to get a user name for this site, so be watching for it:

OLD FAITHFUL.