Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blue Ribbon Panelists still touting TYC reform ideas

I'm a little annoyed that nobody told me about a forum featuring Blue Ribbon Panel members at UT-Austin yesterday regarding the Texas Youth Commission (Uh ... readers ... you're slacking here!), but The Daily Texan provided coverage.

Southwest Key president Juan Sanchez told the audience "that 67 percent of those incarcerated in Texas juvenile correctional facilities are nonviolent offenders. The panel suggested that those who do not pose a risk to themselves or others should be treated through community involvement rather than a trip to a lock-up facility."

Panelists repeated their calls to move away from a punishment culture at TYC and toward evidence-based rehabilitation strategies.

BRP chair David Springer particularly criticized overuse of solitary confinement for TYC youth. He "said that the facility located in Edinburg can hold 30 youths in solitary confinement at one time, six times more than in the entire state of Missouri."

For those in Austin, reports the Texan, "The task force will present its September report to the Human Rights Commission at Austin City Hall on Monday," which should be televised on the local community access channel.

I'm glad the Blue Ribbon Panelists are out promoting their ideas in the reform blueprint (pdf) to the public, because nobody in TYC management is listening. The acting Executive Director has said she will not implement the recommendations, and the publication isn't even available on the agency's website.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Little wonder that daPope will not listen, or publish the BRP's report. She has grown fat and sassy with the punishment culture of TDCJ. It works for grownups, why shouldn't it work for kids?

The fact that nobody is listening proves that we Texans are intellectually functioning at the level of troglodites.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Quite a few people are listening. And many are "appalled," like the student quoted in the story. Just not the top 15 or so folks at TYC or in the Governor's office. Yet.

It takes a long time to turn a big ship around, but it takes a LOT more time when the captain wants to plow straight forward toward the iceberg, which is TYC's problem. The staffing crisis, IMO, is the iceberg in the metaphor that, uncorrected, will be the agency's undoing.

I keep expecting the Governor to step in any day now to appoint new leadership, but every week he waits, some new mess seems to crop up. And the iceberg gets a little bit closer.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree that all TYC leadership in Austin is as fault, even those that stayed over after the hostile takeover.

A true leader would have come out from under the shadows by now and pointed out all the issues we have been harping on for some time now. This has not happened nor will it ever happen. What few that are left in CO are just as guilty as the ones who came on board from TDCJ.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Possibly, but at this point the finger pointing really doesn't help anymore, and those comment strings are frankly (to me) getting tiresome.

I think of state agency heads like a head coach in the NFL - you get them in there for a while, and if things don't work out you fire them and find somebody else. It's not personal, but the place is just really screwed up and needs somebody in there who hasn't alienated all the staff (and the county juvie folks too, I might add), and who understands juvie corrections themselves (or at least the difference between a determinate and indeterminate sentence).

Governor Perry, where are you? Will you appoint somebody decent and save this agency, please? Or else just decide to Sunset the thing and be done with it. Either way, let's have some leadership.

Anonymous said...

I am sure since your not part of the TYC "Family" how it could become tiresome!!

But, to take what you state "Finger pointing" and yourself make a reference to the Governors office and the top fifteen, the captain is disingenuous?

I can state or reference the lack of leadership at TYC based upon the fact I have lived this for quite some time now and yes I have personally spoken to Mr. Madden and others about this shipwreck.

Guess what, I am still waiting for leadership or some action from our elected officails!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What I meant was that the constant harping on the shortcomings of mid-level figures in the agency by name and railing on them in over the top, mostly undcoumented screeds isn't very helpful, especially since in many cases the folks being criticized are caught in the middle. I've often felt Grits commenters assisted the TYC management in scapegoating them quite needlessly - witness Stan D being transferred while Bronco Billy keeps his post.

It's easy to take anonymous pot shots at people by name when you're too cowardly to publicly stand behind your accusations. I allow anonymous commenters on Grits to encourage free debate, but that doesn't mean I have to respect them when they take cheap shots try to use Grits comments to carry out their personal grudges.

Anonymous said...

I agree, and that is why I did not post any specific name.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I appreciate that, but there are many Grits posts where anonymous commenters do take such license, and frankly I'm sick of it. It's damaging, and while I want you and your "TYC family" to be comfortable here, and I don't want this blog to play a destructive role.

The decisions made since March that put TYC where it is today were made by a small handful of people brought in by the Governor and Jay Kimbrough, and they blew it. There has to be some way to call for new leadership at TYC, which it desperately needs, without diverting focus from the fact that it's the NEW leadership, not the old guard, that is presently running the agency in the ground. Bashing some third-tier career bureaucrat won't help fix what's wrong with the agency - they're being ignored and by all accounts the recent stream of bad decisions are all coming from the TDCJ transplants.

Anonymous said...

I don't want this to sound like a defense of present leadership, but BRP's recommendations cannot be implemented by TYC. Almost all of them will have to be implemented by the lege and governor, and it is apparent that Ms. Pope and company are doing exactly what the lege and governor want them to do, or it would seem they would have made changes by now. Sounds to me that the BRP have turned this into an opportunity for speaking engagements, but they still failed to do anything to help TYC.

Anonymous said...

So your saying the BRP committee had something to do with holding the 19 and up youth past their MLOS, that they had a conspired with the current leadership to hold the DOS offenders.
That the BRP fired/suspended tenured folks for little or no reason.
They came up with the "New" uniform, and they blew the overtime budget in the process in one month.
I would have to say the BRP had nothing to do with any of these issues as well as many more I have not mentioned.
Lets just say they at least have a plan and are pushing for reforms rather than do nothing.

Anonymous said...

No, I didn't say any of those things, and I'm not sure what I said that would even cause you to interpret it that way. I'm just saying that the BRP didn't do anything but write a nice research paper on what they would like if they were in charge. The big problem is...they aren't.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Some can be implemented by TYC - on pepper spray, for example. And others could have been done under the authority of the conservator. It's true some of the reforms proposed, though, would require legislative approval and partnerships with the counties to succeed.

Anonymous said...

I think David Springer, the BRP co-chair, gives the best response to some of the comments here at the end of the Daily Texan article:

"I think there are a lot of dedicated staff at TYC on the front lines trying to provide treatment, trying to educate the youth, but they are doing so in a system that is understaffed and underfunded," Springer said. "There needs to be commitment by the public and by state leaders to truly reform the system if we want our communities to be safer and our youth to be truly rehabilitated. They need treatment, they need education and they need good health care."

The BRP did not write a "fantasy" document as so many of its critics continue to suggest. It was thoroughly grounded in FACTS as were its reform proposals.

The BRP did not suggest expanding the use of pepper spray, or bringing uniforms out of the mothballs of the 1960s. It did not suggest firing all staff who had arrest records even if they weren't related to TYC work. It didn't suggest farming out inmates to private contractors, or blowing through a year's worth of OT pay in a few months.

Who is the dreamer more detached from reality here, BRP or the current political leadership? Remember the BRP has no authority and is not going to draft sample legislation, that job still belongs to the lege.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, HELP!!!!! HELP", HELP, HELP"!!!!!!!! We need help, and we need it fast. There are quite a few of us still on board that believe our original purpose in working at TYC was to try to help change lives. All we are doing now is drowning! I mean all of us--kids, staff, teachers, administrators-- all of us!

Anonymous said...

Scott: Per your comments about fingerpointing, please also look at the last comment on: Dallas Morning News says Education failing... string:

"Scott: please remove 11:03's offensive comment. It serves no purpose other than to extend the "them against us" mentality. My skinny/obese white/brown ass/feet can work only so many shifts for so many days/nights. I choose to believe my brothers/sisters will back me without regard to the color or size of my ass when central office fails me."

11/11/2007 12:30:00 PM

davidt500 said...

I was one of the attrition numbers from the closing of John Shero. I left because of the fact that the agency is shrinking and the current leadership is talking out of both sides of their mouth. It was an interesting rumor that I read here about Hollis returning to work at WTSS, and that Davis had taken a voluntary demotion to Ron Jackson. Good news for them if that's the way it went down. I like both men, but like all of us they have faults -- I have faults, too.

Too few of us have the political clout to get our viewpoints to the MSM. This state has never had true leadership. But we have never had so many cowardly troglodites leading us as we have now.

Our leaders are cowardly because they knew two years ago about this oncoming collapse, but refused to act because it was an election year, and the actions that they have taken would cost them an election.

Such leadership from elected officials led to the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Anonymous said...

The governor has not yet accepted Ed Owens' resignation as conservator therefore, he remains in that position. Perry's office is interviewing at this time. He will not be rushed.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

For heaven's sake, Owens announced months ago he was leaving, but they're only doing interviews now?! The longer the Governor waits, the more this mess looks like it stems from his appointments and inattention to the growing problems. Plus if they don't find a new e.d. for TYC, not just a new conservator, little will change.

I see no political benefit and lots of downside to Perry waiting past, say, Thanksgiving to appoint new leadership at TYC. If that's "rushed," it's only because the process should have started a lot sooner.

Anonymous said...

The document may not be a "fantasy" document, but its being implemented is a fantasy. My criticism of the BRP is now, and has always been that the BRP didn't do what was asked, which was find a treatment program that could be implemented to replace the present treatment program. Have any of you seen any real evidence that the Governor or lege is taking any of those recommendations seriously? Everyone that blogs here can see how bad a job Pope and Co. is doing. But they are still there, and there is no evidence that they are going anywhere soon.

Anonymous said...

Are all the kids in TYC mental problems.All you people talk about is treatment.If they stop smoking that mary jane they might not be there.Another thing TYC is not listening to the blue ribbon panelist because it's a joke.Mommy and Daddy should have whip that ass when they were younger.

Jeff Young

Anonymous said...

Hell Everyone these days recomends treatment,, Hell when I was younger we had Gatesvlle and guess what thats all I needed to hear and that kept me straight, Hell we have everything for these Kids and guess what My Kids cant get half of the Stuff the State Gives these little Criminals...Maybe we should let them all out by the Capitol and see if little Ricky can treat them or even better maybe we will put them on a Bus and send them to Little Chueys Hood...I know He has D Cure !

Anonymous said...

All TYC students are diagnosed with something. Most are "conduct disorder." In that case, they are usually not provided any specialized treatment. However, the hope is to at least redirect their thinking processes to become more prosocial. Since, Mr. Young, your viewpoint represents what I fear is the majority opinion in Texas, I suspect improvement of services will never come.

Anonymous said...

Read the Fort Worth Star this Morning ,, That Youth that was Murdered was one of ours from years back.
Sad but true Her caring Family did not even report Her missing for a Month...These are the type of Families that TYC Has to deal with.
This was a Human and with Family like that what could anyone do ????
These are the fine folks we deal with everyday and they are not your caring families now are they !!!!!!!You know im sure one of these Legislators will point the finger on TYC for that one..,,,

Anonymous said...

I sure would like to see all these kids rap sheet.

Anonymous said...

MARIE PORRAS THA' UNI-CALL-IN-BOMBER, GET A LIFE BUT NOT BACK HERE IN SHEFFIELD!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately most of these kids mommies and daddies did much worse than "whip that ass." Many were routinely beaten with extension cords, wire hangers, belts with rodeo style belt buckles, irons, tire irons, broom handles, fists, and boots with furious feet inside them, just to mention a few...Most started their path towards substance abuse and dependence (PCP, Meth, Cocaine, Heroin, not just marijuana) simply as a way to survive, escaping the cold realities of their extreme environments. unfortunately too many Texas citizens share the ignorance of Mr. Young.

Treatment works. It doesn't have to be soft and unfortunately we are about to be forced to choke down a ridiculous treatment program CoNEXTions...sounds more like CONex-tions or a faster ticket to prison for most youth. Treatment means holding youth accountable for their actions and behavior, challenging their antisocial thinking patterns and molding more prosocial goals and values. it is possible to keep these kids from going to prison. research shows intensive treatment programs, in supportive environments, reduces lengths of time incarcerated, reduces violent recidivism, and general recidivism.

On a different note, I routinely laugh at the brand name of those wonderful uniforms. It is actually quite fiting that we have an ALBATROSS hanging on our necks on a daily basis. Yes, the brand name is Albatross. how ironical.

Anonymous said...

7:23,
what the hell are you talking about. these kids have everything? you are so full of shit it is unbelievable. don't even start trying to get people to think that kids in TYC institutions are being pampered. idiot.

and you made the point yourself. guess what, when you were a kid they had gatesville, it had kids in it. there will always be kids who aren't scared by threats of incarceration. maybe some of them are even better off in TYC than where they came from?

Anonymous said...

Grits,
the longer he waits the more the crap stacks up for him to blame people and make a significant change...i know, i'm kidding myself. Watch, Bronco Billy will be the next conservator of TYC

Anonymous said...

7:06,

Unfortunately it is attitudes like yours that got TYC into this mess to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Davidt500:
Hollis has returned to WTSS and I heard Davis did accept a position at Ron Jackson I believe. I find it so interesting that a teenager in Odessa could call in a bomb threat to his school in the afternoon and the school has tracked it down by the next morning, yet no one can seem to find out who called in the threat to WTSS - and it's been right at one month. I'm beginning to think some don't want anyone to find out. However, speaking for myself, I am very happy to see Bill back - we're still hanging in there!

Debbie said...

Hey now...I believe I sent you the event info last week! :)

Anonymous said...

Gov. Perry Awards $11.5 Million from State Criminal Justice Planning Funds
Nov. 08, 2007 - AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry awarded more than $11.5 million in grants to 128 programs across Texas that aim to reduce crime and improve the state’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. These grants are awarded through the State Criminal Justice Pl...

Gov. Perry Announces $273,000 in Grants to Juvenile Delinquency
Nov. 06, 2007 - AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today awarded more than $273,000 to three programs that provide services to juvenile offenders or youth at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. The grants are awarded through the federal Title V Delinquency Prevent...

Anonymous said...

I saw Davis today packing his belonging at his house in WTSS, said he would begin employment at Ron Jackson next week. I asked about the bomb threat and he did not state anything about the it or anything the wonderful leaders that called this in, but rather said he would take a self demotion rather than being this closely associated with the current leadership.
Hollis has been great and were glad he is back, to bad we will get Wallace Brown named as our new Superintendent tomorrow (back to square one). We must be cursed out here, but we will continue to do the right thing regardless of the fake bomb threats, and incompetent leaders we keep receiving (Ayo).

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that Hollis is back! We will start to see postive things happen at WTSS.

I'm happy that Mike Davis is at Brownwood because he's closer to home and family is always first. Good luck to you Mike, you will be an asset to RJSS.

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised that Pope would ever admit a mistake and let those 2 back. Any insiight into it?

Anonymous said...

It was the right thing to do to put them back in place.

Anonymous said...

BRP CAN SUK A FAT DIK. BULLSHYTE REPORT. HELL NO THE RECOMENDATION WONT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

BRP didn't do anything but write a nice research paper on what they would like if they were in charge. The big problem is...they aren't.

THEY WANT TO GET PAID. THAS ALL. TYC CANNOT DO A DAMM THING ABOUT WHAT THEY SAID. THEY HAD A CHANCE TO TALK WITH THE LEGE BEFORE THE BILL WAS PASSED AND THEY CHOOSE NOT. NOT THEY WANT TO RUN ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO WHERE THEIR PEERS ARE ASKING WHY THEY ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE TYC REFORM. THEY ARE LOOSING CREDICABILITY. SO THEY ARE ON THEIR OWN AGENDA.

DAMM SHAME.

Anonymous said...

Good to know that 9:39 is such an educamated individual.

Yo ignrance is showing!

Anonymous said...

Read the Dallas Morning News tomorrow, was told they are doing a story on all the grievances the Humpster has been getting (staff writing them on him).

It's amazing how the MSM or anyone for that matter can do an open records request and get this info. How about one over travel for this fiscal year compared to last years, or how about office decorating, or moving expenses. I'm glad all the money they could not afford to pay JCO"s in overtime is being well spent.

Anonymous said...

We can all fall asleep dreaming of the day Perry will appoint a new Conservator and the days will be numbered for Pope and her cronies.

Vladimir said...

Yep - the story about Bronco Billy is up at dallasnews.com. Good call 10:16.

Anonymous said...

Will Bronco cover for Pope or will he point the finger?

Anonymous said...

Pope hired two pit bulls for her protection: Micky Neel and Billy Humphrey. She's safe, and I'm afraid that in the end, these advocacy groups will pull back bloody stumps. These people are backed by the governor and the lege. Also, the voters will keep electing these same people, because no on cares about TYC except its employees. If the gov. doesn't select Pope as conservator, then he'll elect someone else as impotent as Owens.

Anonymous said...

I would not call Humpster a pit bull, more like a weenie dog with a complex.
He is one of those kids that always got picked on in school so he decided to become a correctional officer to show everyone he was tough. He then somehow became wider and larger than what is typical body frame and has temper tantrums that happens to coincide with someone on the juice.

But a pit bull, noooooooo, more like a WEINER DOG. Come here, Humppy that a Boy, good little Humppy, now go play fetch.

Anonymous said...

Don't disrespect weiner dogs. Unlike Bronco Billy they are loyal, loving friends that will always be there, unlike her holiness and her cronies. If you want to compare him to an animal he reminds me of the hyena from "Lion King" can't do anything without someone behind him as back up.......

Anonymous said...

Hmf,

First,

at least Bronco Billy signs his mail correctly "BS" humphrey

and

2nd

He can suck my weiner dog!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Tommy, get off the caps lock key.