This certainly didn't happen with regard to closing the Coke County private youth prison. And when the agency changed its use of force policy without a public process, the result was litigation that overturned it.
Where are these rules that allow public input into Texas Youth Commission decisions? I haven't seen them. Outside of a string of legislative hearings, what we got instead was TYC's "State of the Agency" tour, essentially a one-way and largely futile series of presentations, not a place to receive public comment on specific policies prior to their implementation. From SB 103:
Sec. 61.0423. PUBLIC HEARINGS.
(a) The executive commissioner [
board] shall develop and implement policies that provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to appear before the executive commissioner or the executive commissioner's designee [ board] and to speak on any issue under the jurisdiction of the commission.
(b) The executive commissioner shall ensure that the location of public hearings held in accordance with this section is rotated between municipalities in which a commission facility is located or that are in proximity to a commission facility.
Perhaps one question the joint committee can ask TYC next Monday: When is that going to start to happen?
Can it happen in time for new rulemaking on use of force policies? Or will TYC hold such a public hearing before it rolls out an ill-conceived privatization scheme for the youngest kids in its care? After all, this is an agency which contracted with a private youth prison, reported The New York Times, where within the last month:
Juvenile detainees as young as 13 years old slept on filthy mats in dormitories with broken, overflowing toilets and feces smeared on the walls. Denied outside recreation for weeks at a time, they ate bug-infested food, did school work that consisted of little more than crossword puzzles and defecated in bags.That being the case, can the public have input on new rules to improve contract management and oversight at TYC before changing policies to shovel the youngest kids in the system into private youth prisons? Or before changing use of force policies. Isn't that the kind of the purpose of the public rulemaking process envisioned in SB 103?