Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pepper Spray at TYC: A Report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's Juvenile Justice Initiative has released a detailed public policy report entitled, "Pepper Spray in the Texas Youth Commission: Research Review and Recommendations" (pdf). I've not had a chance to read it yet, but wanted to post a link to make it available to Grits readers. Congrats especially to report author Leah Pinney, a past intern of mine gone on to bigger and better things, for her hard work on the project.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

The studies show that the JCOs who have been complaining here are absolutely correct. It doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

WERE YOU FIRED FROM TYC DUE TO A PAST CRIMINAL RECORD?

If you would be interested in joining a class action law suit against TYC please email your contact information to firedfromtyc@swbell.net . Your information will only be used in relation to a class action law suit against TYC. The class action law suit will be on a contingency basis requiring no money from you.

Anonymous said...

Bias! They used good references citing completed studies and yet quote information regarding a 4 month old adverse affects to pepper spray, since when did we start adjudicating 4 month olds in Texas and how is this relevant. All these collations are so quick to judge be yet failed to offer concrete solutions other than the same old repeats- It has been several months when all these so called “Blue Ribbon Panels” and “Collations” are criticizing a system and staff instead of acting and helping. I don’t understand why community law enforcement does not get criticized so as much as corrections they have multiple weapons that they are allowed to use and use them daily on these so called children. Yet, you expect JCO to defend themselves with just words. The kids are there for a reason, they have failed multiple community interventions, rehabs, and probation and have committed multiple crimes before they are ever sent to TYC, so comparing them to a 4 month old is #$%* ludicrous. Instead the current TYC system, after the so called reform began has kids in limbo, with no real treatment, and no accountability. Trust me you need to give staff something to defend themselves-there are not too many people trying to break down the doors in HR trying to get hired. Instead current administration in Central Office only exacerbates the problem they came in guns a blazing and have yet to produce except bring in TDCJ staff that think they know how to handle kids. That is why the issued those directives for OC they didn’t expect to be told off and be called ever name in the book other than their name. Yet, I don’t see them being held accountable like the front line staff that are made to feel like criminals when they have to be put through multiple investigations for doing their job. They have only managed to fuel the current culture on campuses and are teaching these children to cry wolf- and slowly exterminate their staff. Great job!!!

Anonymous said...

while i agree that the increased use of oc spray is a bad idea these people are so off base that it is almost funny. lets first understand we are not using his on chilren we are daling with 16-17 year olds in many cases not small chilren. they seam to consistantly be misinformed as to the actual product information there is no ethenol in it. and they are applying formation from studies that are not relivant to what it being discussed. come on people you are on the right track but need to get your information correct and in the right context before you put it out there.

KTF

Anonymous said...

The Round Rock Texas Police Department knows how to train and utilize OC/pepper spray. The department may allow or trains suspended private security guards in the use of OC/pepper spray at their own Teety bar. The department then helps those suspended security officers on the avoidance of detection and deception as a phony security guard. A possible valuable training for TYC guards. RRPD can be contacted at: (512)218-5500.

Isela said...

12:25 & 1:25, Any information regarding the content of the formula used by TYC was provided by TYC.

Re the study on the 4-month old, that's a very small part of the report, and we only extrapolate from that the possibility that pepper spray may have longer-lasting and more severe impacts on children.

We understand that most youth in TYC are not small children; however, 16 and 17 year olds are not yet adults either.

There are no studies of pepper spray use specifically on children, nor of its effectiveness in juvenile corrections or even adult corrections settings, so we had to use studies that dealt with pepper spray in the law enforcement context and take a look at court cases where juvenile systems had been sanctioned for its use of pepper spray.

Lastly, we make no claim to be completely free of bias. Of course, neither can most of the studies we examined.

The concrete solutions can be found in the last few sections of the report. They aren't easy though. The problems facing TYC are endemic and long-standing and require holistic, long-term solutions.

Anonymous said...

isela

the info on oc spray they provided should be checked i am looking at the actual msds from defense tech.on the oc spray tyc uses it is part of the instructors training manuel. it does not have ethenol or anything resembling alcohol in it. the rest of the studies talking about the efcts are blown way out of proportion i have in the last decade in witnessing more uses of oc than i can remember can not recall anything other than the immediae effects of burning,tearing,and the general effects that would be expected from exposure to hot peppers. that is all it is is food grade peppers in a water based solution with a nitrogen propellent. as to the ages of youth for medical purposes which is what e are discussing an legal purposes 17 &18 year olds are adults. while i agree that the policy to spray first is a bad idea the peperspray is not the problem it is a good tool when properly used. we are really spinning our wheels arguing about what oc does what needs to be looked at is what context is should be used in. it does have a place but its place is not as a first resort. and they can put together as many focus groups and task forces as they want but until they actually check with line staff and see what effects these policy changes have on safety and security they will not be able to correct this problem. the people who write these policies have no idea what really goes on in these cases.

KTF

Anonymous said...

2:08
training is not the problem the problem is that there is no clear intrepretation of policy in tyc at this time. we have the trainers we just cant train because administration cant do whats right.

KTF

Anonymous said...

The fact that a number of people are missing is thatchildren as young as 11 wind up in TYC thanks to our ingenious legislature.

My own experience is that these young offenders are put into the same environment as the "average population" of TYC.

Many of these youngsters have no clue as to what their offense was or why it was even a crime. (Due to the dysfunctional nature of their families and neighborhoods). And we have actual leaders appointed by Gov Goodhair who do not understand this.

Of course the use of OC increases aggressive responses in these offenders.

Wake up. This is silliness.

Anonymous said...

KTF,

17 year olds are not legally adults. Under SB 103, the only legal adults (for some purposes) in TYC will be 18 year olds.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

11/29 @ 11:17AM

Before I send you any information, I need to know who you are.

Scott:

Is this legitimate, or is this TYC pulling another one of their stunts?

Thanks

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No idea. First I've heard of it.
sh

Anonymous said...

Ever seen a OC grenade?

We have those too now.....

Anonymous said...

Does policy say to use those before or after the OIG rifles?

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought, since some of the TYC STAR teams are folding up and eventually will not be in place to take care of the riots on campuses. What kind of rules do you think that the State Police will have in dealing with these riots. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Howard
nice to hear from you again
i am famliar with sb 103 and the point i as trying to make is that we are dealing with 17 year olds an for legal purposes outside TYC they are seen as adults. the point being these are not small "children" some people want to to lead you to believe we are using OC on elementary students and such.
while i dont agree with the spray first policy i do believe there are times it is the best option.

11/29 7:14
yes i have seen and used OC grenades along with 37mm gun with OC blast dispursion rounds and the MK 21 and MK 46 (you notice we dont publicise having these or the pepper fogger but we have it.

this whole thing is just getting so out of hand TYC administration has lost touch with realty in my opinion


KTF

Anonymous said...

Howard A. Hickman

Do you as a past TYC lawyer know of anything illegal about the way TYC fired long time employees they knew had criminal records when they hired them? I saw the post about a law suit and thought you might know if it had a chance of working.

Anonymous said...

OIG rifles !!!

Did they go ahead and buy the assault rifles? I heard they were going to buy the OIG AR-15 assault rifles but I couldn't believe it. Have they lost their minds in Central Office? Is TYC going from a Spray First Policy to Shoot First and Ask Questions later Policy? The end is near!

Anonymous said...

TYC can't decide on a pepper spray policy and when it is appropriate to use it, and now they have assault rifles. Would love to see the agency policy on that one...

Anonymous said...

if people would just ask the JCO staff how to deal with juvenile offenders we wouldn't be in this pepper spray mess! They may not have college degrees but they have something the policy makers don't have...front line experience! 90% of JCO's know how to deal with the youth in their care without OC spray. They have been doing it for years. I have been sprayed twice with pepper spray during training and yes it burns but it isn't something that causes permanent damage. Any youth that is sprayed is immediately decontaminated, they aren't just left to suffer.

Allowing certain JCO's to carry OC spray is a very good deterrent and helps to avoid riots and assaults.

TALK TO YOUR LINE STAFF! THEY HAVE FUNCTIONED FOR YEARS WITHOUT OC!

KTF said...

OC is a good tool if used properly all the debate is just stupid about when to or not to use OC it seally is a simple test of when it is appropriate. the real question is is using oc the safest alternative presenated at the time if it is not dont use it ad if you can show it is the safest alternative then use it. i mean really can you show it is safer to those invo;ved to go hands on or to spray every situation is different and they are trying to make a very specific policy to cover a changing dynamic situation it leaves a lot of opening to have problems. in my mind the use of oc should be something to the effect that the requirements for use of force should be met plus you should be able to show that it presents a significent danger to both staff and youth if they go hands on. (i.e. weapons , sroundings,stature,etc.)
i mean come on CO get it together dosent anyone up there have any common sense?

KTF

Anonymous said...

Faces of TYC - An overview
November 29th, 2007

http://www.dallasnews.com/video/dallasnews/hp/index.html?nvid=196953

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody TYC is right on track! On track to getting sun setted in 2008! Santa is bringing contract care to all of the bad little boys and girls at TYC for Christmas this year. Me thinks the contracts are already decided by Governor Good Hair. The deposits have been made in the off shore account so it is all settled.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right!!!!!!!! Hey wake up they still have to follow the written policies that are on the books and no Contractor wants that expecially now with all of the media attention.....It was a good thought but they have other punishments for TYC and thats to run it in the ground and then some great Politician wil make more new rules and everything will be wonderful for another 20 years....Remember Pyote when they had the first scandal??? These people knew way before that Scandal lets see Gatesville Hmmmmm that was maybe the first one!! All of this is done to pay the Legislators such as Chuey and the rest of these crooks... Look back at History and you will see what I mean...

Anonymous said...

11:21,

I know nothing of the website on suing TYC. I do believe TYC has substantial legal problems with changing employment conditions and at one time had a list of at least 13 legal problems with terminating employees for known criminal records.

KTF,

By "adults," you mean for criminal purposes which is a very limited area. Neither the law or the general population treat 17 year olds as adults for any other purpose.

Defining the "safer alternative" is difficult. The current GAP policy is understandable and generally acceptable to the youth advocates who have read it. Why is it necessary to change that policy? To prevent worker's comp claims is a rather stupid reason. One could prevent such claims by employing adequate staff and maintaining proper staff/youth ratios.

Howard A. Hickman

Isela said...

I must respectfully disagree with the assertion that OC spray definitely does not cause any long-term damage, or that the studies we examined blew the potential harms out of proportion.

Consider the potential negative consequences we describe in our report to be the equivalent of the “possible side effects” that are enumerated at the end of a pharmaceutical commercial. Sure, these things won’t happen to everyone, but they have happened to someone and they could happen again to someone else that is similarly situated. Pepper spray is not regulated by the FDA as a drug, so it has not gone through the kind of rigorous testing that would definitively tell the public how safe it really is.

It’s critical to remember that pepper spray was widely introduced to law enforcement in the mid-1990s as an alternative to lethal force. That means the only health standard that it was held to was that it not kill people every single time it was used.

Of course, any youth that is sprayed should be decontaminated immediately. Immediate and thorough decontamination should help mitigate any harmful effects.

Yes, the real point here is that chemical restraints in TYC should be returned to where they belong – at the end of the use of force continuum and as an alternative to lethal use of force. The goal should be to reduce the need for excessive use of force in TYC, period. Not simply to replace ol’ fashioned wrestling and fighting with a new-fangled chemical version of kicking someone’s butt.

I encourage folks to read the entire report, including the notes and appendices. If there a claim that you particularly disagree with, please read the corresponding endnotes or the appendix. They may provide you with some of the additional details you’re looking for.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info.

firedfromtyc@swbell.net

PERSONS from Al Price, Giddings, WTSS, EVINS, Victory Field thank you.

Anonymous said...

KTF it seems the employment law in relation to TYC is not easy chase down or no something most lawyers do not understand.

Scott could you open a topic on possible legal options people could take to a lawyer? Most people don't know where to start and this line of discussion could be helpful in pointing folks in the right direction to reclaim what TYC stole from them. My retirement had been projected to be worth 1/4 million over my life time. I would say that makes me a real victim!


Harold H. might not be able to comment because TYC was his client while he was working for them.


For liability reasons other could post without their name.

KTF said...

howard
yes i understand about the adults still the point is thse are not the "childen" that so many bleeding hearts are making them out to be in reality there ae 1 yer olds in tdcj and they play by the tdcj rules. but anyway i was just trying to make a point. the policy as written is ok if the administration would stick to one intrepretation the problem with it arises when it is intrepretated differently from facility to facility in which case it is and has always been. my personal stance is oc is good thing in some cases. we just need a consistant intrepretation.
i actually was a part of one of the taskforces that wrote the current policy it could be a revamped a bit but its workable. administration needs to just playy by the rules

ktf said...

as far as the safest alternative i mean nd his fall within the current gap policy we must recognise the need to evaluate he situation at hand and determine if oc is he best choice or should we look at ther alternatives. it is written in the policy as a threat assessment and is requied to be done. we just need to be diligent in doing and training for this.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I agree with Howard. We are looking at the wrong set of choices: to spray rather than wrestle with kids. The real problem is, why are we letting things get to the point that so many uses of force are necessary? The Chester Clay, "super corrections" folks were in vogue for close to 10 years. That means that a very high percentage of our staff have never known any alternative to force and intimidation. The Clay boys and girls ran off a great number of experienced staff who knew how to control groups of delinquent youth while seldom resorting to physical interventions. The problem was, doing so required a great deal of patience, and a willingness to put up with tons of verbal abuse from the youth. In the minds of the Clay folks, that was not acceptable.

I think the what makes me most angry about the current situation in TYC, is that Linda Reyes and Neil Nichols had finally gotten the agency to turn the corner. They got rid of Clay, and brought in Brantley; Rehab Services had a whole crew of talented people, and I was beginning to feel like TYC was going to get back to where it should have been before ole Steve Robinson had brought in Chester Clay and his henchmen.

Now the agency is in a shambles. It is worse off than it has ever been in the close to 17 years that I have worked for TYC. On the one hand we have these TDCJ transplants who know nothing beyond the TDCJ culture; and on the other hand, we have folks like Emily and her video project who treat some of the worst of the worst as credible hero-victims of TYC.

I keep asking myself, why don't you just retire and be done with it - but I can't, because I keep hoping that something will happen for the good. Maybe, just maybe that vain, vapid, sorry excuse for a governor will feel the pressure to make some changes that have to be made. Meanwhile, maybe, just maybe, I can make a positive impact on one or two youth. Maybe, I can give moral support to some of the fine staff who are working so hard to make a difference themselves. Maybe... but this is really putting the concept of Semper Fidelis to the test! Old Salty

Anonymous said...

Old Salty, have you actually worked directly with any of the kids that Emily & her crew have videotape, or are you basing your opinion on third-hand information? I'm just wondering on what basis you can claim these youth are in fact the "worst of the worst"?

Anonymous said...

GFB,

Why did you remove my comments about Old Salty from this morning? He can rip up Clay and his "henchman", but I can have no response? Is this getting a little lopsided. If I have to keep it professional, Old Salty needs to do the same.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Why did you remove my comments about Old Salty from this morning"

Because they were mean-spirited and personal. If you want to disagree with the arguments, fine, but don't try to intimidate others from speaking or bully them.

Anonymous said...

GFB how about opening a topic on the people unfairly fired from TYC for past criminal records. Set it up so people who know specific laws violated in the firing of people with past criminal records at TYC could share information. From what I have seen this is an area of law most Texas lawyers are not up on. We could use the real world help. The kind words from you are nice but they don't make the car payment!

Anonymous said...

GFB,

So, I can have no response to Old Salty's vicious attacks, but his posts can remain? His statement about the "Clay boys and girls" is just as mean spirited and personal to me. I understand that this is your blog, and you can do whatever you want, but this is a little ridculous.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Your post was much more personally directed and harsh than that. When he critiques Clay and Co, it's usually for policy reasons. Your post was directed at him as an individual, came close to naming him against his wishes, and tried to pressure him to leave the agency. Sorry if you disagree that there's a difference. Like you said, it's my blog. best,

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Oh, and you can certainly respond to Salty. But defend the people or practices he criticized, tell us why he's wrong, don't just attack him personally. A lot of TYC commenters, not just you, need to tone down the anger - yesterday I just thought a couple of comments, including yours, crossed the line. best,

Anonymous said...

Old Salty,

It's too bad that I can't tell you what I really think on here. But what I will tell you is that your comments towards "Clay and his henchman" is a bunch of crap. You have no validity to your claims that they only used or overly used force and intimidation. In fact, I have witnessed personally that the majority of the folks that Clay hired turned out to be treatment folks rather than "super correctional". Sounds like your comments go back to personal issues between you and Clay. Maybe he was just "super correctional" with you and intimidated you? Listen to what you are asking your yourself in the last paragraph first sentence of your post, and say yes!! Maybe the Agency and the "one or two youth" will be better off. Hope this gets posted, this is about as PC as I can get when dealing with an Old Salty person.

Anonymous said...

I do not know all of the youths personally, but I have had direct, first-hand contact with some of them. I do know and trust someone who has had direct dealings with one of the youth that I do not know. Thus, the information I have on that particular youth is second-hand, but from someone I consider reliable and unbiased. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

IMO, the real substance of Old Salty's remarks was this:

"We are looking at the wrong set of choices: to spray rather than wrestle with kids. The real problem is, why are we letting things get to the point that so many uses of force are necessary?"

I'd like to see Salty's critics respond to this as well as his portrayals of the TYC administration that came in during the "get tough" wave of the 1990s.

BB

Anonymous said...

Old Salty,

While I might agree with your sentiments about Clay I disagree with your comments about Robinson bringing in Clay. That was a Dwight move and one he might have later regretted.

Alan Steen, who was somebody that Robinson brought to central was someone who frequently disagreed with Clay. My opinion right or wrong, was that Robinson was a lame duck Exec Director his last couple of years and was just bidding his time to retirement.

Steen jumped ship and went to the TABC because like me of us who had been with TYC could see and "smell" what was coming especially with Clay and his subordinates running things.

8:53/9:42... Clay, Banard, et.al. have a history of obsfiscating the truth and covering for each other. That does not mean everyone that Clay supervised or brought in was corrupt or purely "correctional." I knew many people who used to advocate for him until he got to a place in Central Office where it was harder for him t play the shell game with the facts. Unfortunately, his subordinates were not a clever or charismatic as he could be.

Anonymous said...

8:12,

You have to be kidding, Robinson brought in Clay and groomed him to take over as ED from the time he moved him from CRTC to Giddings, and then to Central Office.

Anonymous said...

Since the name was mentioned, what are ya'll's thoughts on Steen jumping from TABC to Conservator? Rumor is that this may happen.

In regards to C. Cockerill do you really think he could have handled TYC, he hasn't done much with CPS?

Anonymous said...

Hell Steen didnt leave TYC cause He could see what was coming..I know Allen and He is a spoiled little brat just like His Mother Linda the only reason He had the Job He had was it was given to Him by friends of His Mother.
Steen is not capable of running TYC and if you think that maybe you should see some of His past.
Man Steen left the Agency due to not getting the Director Job in the first place, Steve Robinson knew Allen was not capable of running TYC..........

Anonymous said...

7:27 I have to agree. Steen was privy to much of what was done for enforcement and discipline at MOAU, including requiring casework staff to put a kid into the then equivalent of bmp's because they cursed him out. Anybody who crossed him was on his shit list for months, even if Steen discovered he had made a mistake. When he started to get into real trouble, he would fall off his horse and make Bob clean it up for him.
Keep in mind, Steen is the TABC Commissioner who approved getting having tourists busted for drinking too much in a hotel bar where they were staying! i.e. they posed no threat of DWI! Wonder what he would do if he caught Whitmire in his usual alcohol clouded haze? Oh, that's right, kiss his butt and say can I have a job?