Monday, November 12, 2007

Dallas News: Fix TYC by sending fewer kids there

The Dallas News on Sunday called for "A Fix Closer to Home" for the Texas Youth Commission, arguing that the state gains no measurable public safety benefit from sending most youth to TYC:

As the governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force Report notes, Texas, unlike demographically similar California, chooses to incarcerate more younger offenders for less serious crimes but achieves no better youth crime rates. Punishment over community-based intervention only costs more.

Senate Bill 103, passed in the last Legislature, is a well-intentioned start toward reform, although mostly reactive to the mountain of problems. Yet it does have its forward-looking sections. One requires counties of 335,000 people or more – like Dallas and Tarrant – to implement more community-based programs and report to the governor and Legislature on their success.

The TYC may never fix itself, but one thing the rest of us can do is send fewer of our kids into its care. Solve the problems closer to home for as many of them as possible."
As I've argued recently both on Grits and in "Surviving the TYC Meltdown," the simple math of legislative reforms, combined with changes to agency administrative code rules, means Texas counties inevitably must handle more kids who previously would have gone to TYC, and kids sent to youth prisons will return home much sooner than in the past. Dallas News editorialists are right so suggest that counties need to plan now for how to manage more such kids in their home jurisdictions.

It's what's going to happen, anyway. Why not prepare now?


Anonymous said...

Misdemeanants only learn bad behavior in TYC.
Incarcerated persons only learn more criminal behaviors from being locked up.
Past studies, I wish I could remember when and where all indicate that the closer a criminal is to home and the more one is required to work in the community, the lower the recidivism.

Texas can't learn.

Our idea of tough on crime makes it too easy to be a felon.

Anonymous said...

Does Governor Perry Have Something to Hide?

Anonymous said...

Just informed Hollis is back in his role as Asst. Supt. at WTSS and Davis asked for a self demotion to Ron Jackson II to get back closer to his family. Good news for some of us still hung out to dry and waiting for a response. I would like to see the media do an open records request on all of this, grievances, e-mails, to see exactly what happened?

Anonymous said...

Uniforms, Pepper Spray, Handcuffs
Do the crime.
Do the time.
No services required


Anonymous said...

Smart move by Davis, by going down into the ranks, he can hide until this crap passes over. Once some real leaders are over TYC, he can reemerge as leader. Good move, more Superintendents should think about doing this. Good luck Mike. I hope it all works out for you in the end.

Anonymous said...

Misdemeanants Huh! Interesting thought but not true.

Also, interesting supportive data:

"Past studies, I wish I could remember when and where"

I agree with the DMN, and Grits, that these large urban areas should be doing more in the way of community based support systems.

They need to start with their public education system. It is one of the worst performing groups of school districts in the state. They are not alone though. All of Texas and most of the U.S. suffers from the same major problems. Not every one can be a rocket scientist and more importantly; not every one wants to be. We need a lot more skilled crafts persons then we do lawyers and doctors. If they would split our education system into 2 paths; academic and vocational, then most every one would be able to acquire a marketable and life long skill.

If for one reason or another they just can't do this, they could offer free tuition to all high school grads at any vocational institute. NM has been doing it for years. This has to be cheaper and less painful for society as compared to incarceration.

If the youth of our society have no other way to survive then steal, then they will steal. Every one alive today would do the same thing if they were in the same position. I'm not trying to make excuses for the actions of these kids. I believe a consistent pattern of deviant behavior should be addressed immediately and should include highly restrictive incarceration.

However, why not try to give the youth a pre-emptive legal and reasonable option to crime? What's the worst that could happen? Some of them get jobs and pay taxes.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Communities/counties should handle kids under the age of 15. However even in this age group you have chronic offenders that will need TYC. Community based programs are,'t the whole solution. Some kids are born into that lifestyle and they know no other way of life. IMO, parents, communities, judges and TYC need to work together to refer the kid to the proper program, lockup or community based program.

Anonymous said...

Davis had requested the move to Ron Jackson before the whole bomb threat fiasco. In fact, I beleive he was scheduled to report there that Monday. Didn't the bomb threat happen on a Friday?

Anonymous said...

Just curious, but has anybody looked into not sending every juvenile court ordered to TYC to TYC right away. Maybe after they have been court ordered to TYC that they stay in the juvenile detention centers(state puts more money into casemanagers,parole officers,DO's, counselors, medical staff at the detention level to help rehabilitate the juvenile through different programs). The juvenile stays closer to home and to their family. Some juveniles are parents and would hopefully benifit by staying closer to their kids-might try some different programs in JDC-vocational/work release,etc. The casemanager and Parole officer would be working on a current/aftercare program for the child using community resources. After the juvenile is court ordered to TYC the juvenile detention center is paid by TYC to keep/rehabilitate the juvenile. But, anytime during the juvenile's stay if they become a major disruption in the program,(Assaults, sex offense,consistent misconduct, etc.) the casemanager,parole officer and Deputy Director/Facility Administrator of the facility can hold a hearing (inviting the guardians)and determine if the juvenile should stay at the facility or be transferred to TYC. This keeps the better juveniles closer to home and hopefully connect with family, work in the community and become stabalized(aftercare, MHMR, halfway house) when released into the community where they will be living. This could be a bargaining tool with the juvenile. Maybe keeping some of the juveniles that are really not too serious of an offender at the detention level will help keep them out of TYC and let TYC get stabalized so they can keep the population down and begin to get more staff/trained staff and meet the 1:12 ratio. I personaly do not see how they can do it, I work in a detention center and believe the ratio should be more like a 1:8 ratio-I would rather have more staff than pepper spray(We do not use it here, we use HWC and try and get them into a room as soon as possible-but I would not rule it out in some cases-some juveniles are pretty strong and some can stir up alot of trouble). Also, some of the juveniles that I have seen that are getting sent off to TYC actually do really well in the juvenile detention center setting(the juveniles here go to school, have different programs(substance abuse,anger magt classes, life skills, arts and crafts, church. They are out in the program from 6:15am to 9:30pm daily). I am not by any means saying that it works for all of them because there have been some that I am calling their JPO and telling them you gotta pick this kid up ASAP because he is really stirring things up. But it might keep some kids in smaller Detention Centers(missouri model) and it acts as a second step/middle evaluation of the juvenile in a confined environment. If the juvenile continues to do good they get to stay closer to home snd get benifits from it, if they continue to act out and the Detention Center does not have the resources to handle the juvenile then they are sent to TYC. Just Curious.