Sunday, December 30, 2007

Missouri juvie justice profiled

AP has a story on Missouri's juvenile corrections model that most juvie justice professionals believe constitutes the best practices currently known for reforming delinquent youth. Texas Youth Commission previously dismissed Missouri's approach, but I'm hoping the new conservator will provide leadership to take the agency in that direction.

40 comments:

"Chuy" said...

When speaking of the year 2007 TYC will always be remembered as the State Agency that failed the youth, and quite a few good staff. The Dallas Morning News has a short article about it's failures and continued failures. Yes, it would be nice to move toward the "Missouri" model but our elected officials and the public at large will not fund this initiative and it will not happen overnight, you are talking years to build these smaller facilities. I would agree that smaller numbers with more well intentioned staff (not TDCJ management) would go a long way to helping the youth of Texas. Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

Nice article, Grits. Underlines several key themes that those of us who would like to see a Missouri-type reform in Texas have been advocating for some time.

One thing the Missouri story demonstrates is that reform can happen and be sustained across political lines. It is remarkable that conservative and liberal govt officials in Missouri supported the model.

The article also shows, again, that cost is not an issue. This model saved money in the long run, pleasing fiscal conservatives and law and order types alike.

Along with plain old bureaucratic inertia, the real problem is an ideological addiction to outmoded correctional models.

I also believe that real leadership could overcome any public hesitation to this type of model. Unfortunately that has been in short supply thus far.

However long it will take to build small facilities, to staff them adequately, etc, it will never happen if nobody is willing to get started... or even to admit that there is a problem with the current system. I have yet to hear that from anyone with power in Texas.

Bill B.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Missouri charges parents, who are able to pay, for the care of their delinquent youth while incarcerated? I was told it covers their room & board, hygiene products, clothes, etc. I heard this over the holidays while on vacation and during a dinner conversation with an acquaintance that lived in that state for 10 years. He was vehement that it was not restituion charges. Can anyone verify this??

Anonymous said...

12:25...I was told by a relative who lives there that Missouri requires parents who are financially able (have insurance or $$$) to place their children in some type of privately run rehab facility. This allows them to pick and choose (sort of) which kids go into state run programs.

Granted, it appears to be much better than what we have, or what many other states have, but it also appears they have taken a more business-like approach to rehabilitation. Otherwise, how could such a small state afford to pay the salaries we keep hearing about there?

How do they fund their programs? I tend to believe the parent-pay theory here. I just don't see where else they are pulling in the revenue to pay these highly qualified staff. Does anyone else out there know more about this?

Anonymous said...

Did I miss something here? Where are their rapists, murderers, arsonists, etc. Do they just have drug addicts and car theives in Missouri?

I don't mean to sound sarcastic but, it doesn't sound like we're dealing with the same type of criminal here in Texas???

Maybe I missed it...the article did talk about gang members, but any staff working for TYC right now knows that we're dealing with large numbers of kids who have committed hard-core crimes. I don't think a stuffed animal is going to fix most of these kids.

Maybe I'm wrong, or just pessimistic and worn down, but I just don't see it for the majority of our youth.

Now, there are many who could benefit from smaller, more relaxed facilities...lots of those kids in the system now. But this won't work for all of them, and we need to remember that...this Missouri model is not a bandaid for Texas.

Anonymous said...

Scott: I fully agree that the Missouri Plan needs to be looked at and, perhaps, instituted as part of a comprehensive approach. There are lots of questions about funding, entry etc (e.g. in at least one case, a family that had insurance had to send their child to drug treatment X 3, despite minimal drug use, but increasingly serious criminal activity for "fun" well beyond a need to pay for drugs; criminal activity including assault with deadly weapon). It has to be viewed with Texas in mind--including bible belt morality, bought and paid politicians (we still are dealing with gambling interests from Louisiana and New Mexico buying Texas politicians to cut out competition), an assumption by many that quality services are not readily available in rural areas, impact of gang membership on students/staff/families.
Additionally, centralizing female students at one location allegedly to provide specialized services, suggests discrimination on the basis of gender, denying some closeness to family that is mandated for males. Then again, students from rural areas would be denied ease of family contact due to lack of "local" facilities, whereas Harris and Dallas county might each have 5 or 6.
Strangely, WTSS might present an arguement for being kept open. 10 group home-like dorms, within 3 hours of El Paso, Lubbock, San Angelo, Abilene; medical school training facility less than an hour away, vocational resources including junior college training, limited gang influence, low humidity (potentially great for some asthmatics) and staff housing that may attract good staff just getting out of school or the military. One thing that must be kept in mind is that for many students, there is no concept of a different life. One aspect of going away to college, for example from rural to the city, is the education one gets outside the classroom. What we sometimes forget is that it works the other way as well, hence the popularity of Houston millionaires seeking land in rural west Texas. Anybody remember the story about kids coming out to the dairy farm and asking which spiggot the chocolate milk comes from? Some TYC kids need a chance to find a new world is available to them and they are not stuck in the one they grew up in.

Anonymous said...

7:16 I believe your last statement is the key to most of the kids in TYC. Finding a new life other than the one they know. Most believe there is no hope for them to get out of the situations they grew up in.
Others do not realize that there is another way of life that they too can have if they want it bad enough. Most of the time as adults and a kids we tend to stay in the life that is familar and easy for us to fit in. These kids can not see a light at the end of a tunnel.

Anonymous said...

A crisis is comming.
Lax discipline is not a kindness to these kids.
Nobody is thinking.

Nurit said...

Texas used to have a similar model for working with "troubled youth." Through the years, the state has followed the current trends in juvenile jsutice, sometimes being the leader (i.e. focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment). I think most who work with youth agree that smaller is more effective. I would never agree, however, with having youth assist with restraining other youth. What a Pandora's box that would be!

Anonymous said...

Nutrit
How much control can you have with 20+ - 1 ratio? If you think that the youth don't help keep control now with restraints your in never never land...

Anonymous said...

Teachers and JCO's know the youth.
Others don't.
No one who works with the youth would make the kind of decisions that are getting passed down.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1) Missouri does have incredibly harsh certification laws, which no doubt slightly change the make-up of their youth population. It would be interesting to see which offenders are housed in which facilities. MO does have one 100-bed facility specifically for the "blended" sentence (MO's version of determinate sentencing) offenders.

2) TYC also charges child support to parents of youth who have been court-ordered to pay.

Anonymous said...

With new TYC staff having to undergo 300 hours of training, before they can actually work a dorm, is hurting the 12:1 ratio. The lege needs to consider 200 hrs of OJT as part of that 300 hrs. If not, the institutions will continue to struggle. Staff will continue to work long hours, accrue overtime and leave due to exhaustion. Employees cannot properly care for the youth when exhausted or have had no day off in weeks. Employees do not think clearly when stressed to the limit. They also have a life outside TYC. Obviously thinking this out was not a consideration when mandated!! The lege needs to re-visit the 300 hr mandate.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

150 of the 300 hours is actually already OJT, though that's not what the Lege thought they were doing. TDCJ has 300 hours of classroom AND OJT, which is what they intended to model TYC's training on. But they don't have that many classroom modules, and the pressures you describe force them to push folks out onto the floor more quickly, I've been told.

Anonymous said...

Prior to SB 103, the TYC Units were required to complete 120 hrs. of OJT for JCOs and 80 hrs. of classroom instruction. So, SB 103 has increased training by 100 hrs. 30 hrs which are aditional OJT and 70 more hrs. classroom? I too was under the assumption that the 300 hrs mandated by SB 103 was classroom in addition to OJT hours. I guess this snafu can be on the Lege for providing poor oversight of the current TYC Administration that has twisted and turned everything put in place by SB 103 to their advantage. When will the Lege call a special session and rip up Pope and her cronies like they did Dwight Harris? Dwight may have had the Agency in trouble, but Pope and her crew has sunk it to depths never seen by TYC. Step up and do your job members of the Legislature. Stop fearing Whitmire and call Pope on the carpet, listen to her lies, and then kick her to the curb. The new Conservator should not have to inherit her and her garbage.

Anonymous said...

At some facilities folks are not being pushed out on the floor before completing the 300 hr training mandate. Is possible that the mandate was not made clear to all? Or perhaps subject to interpetation??

Agree with 2:01 about the new conservator having to inherit the mess.

Anonymous said...

Is anything made clear by this administration?

Anonymous said...

Yep
Find another Job !!

Anonymous said...

Especially if your a "White Ph.D"

Anonymous said...

I don't think the argument that Missouri is dealing with a different population of offenders than Texas holds much water.

Please take a minute to look at TYC's own commitment statistics from 2006: just 10% of commitments are classified as "violent offenders" and 61% are "general offenders."

Admittedly, these percentages may have changed in the last year. Statistics aren't as readily available yet for 2007.

But as of 2006, rapists, murderers, and arsonists were a very small minority of TYC commitments: 1% of the TYC population was committed for murder, 1% for arson, and 5% for aggravated sexual assault.

As in Missouri, burglary and drug offenses constituted the largest categories of commitments. (Twenty-one percent and eleven percent, respectively.)

Anonymous said...

Things are very quiet around TYC. Could it be the calm before the storm?

Anonymous said...

things may SEEM to be quiet at TYC, but that's because the keening and crying of staff is done in whispers behind closed doors. People are afraid to speak up, so they shut up, and silently become more and more miserable.  Moral continues to be at an all-time low and everyone under the assistant superintendent is looking for another job. This agency has a cancer that is going to kill it!

Anonymous said...

You are probably right 7:05, TYC staff are notorious for having no backbone. The TDCJers unjustly fired folks like myself that would have stood up to them. Too bad the majority won't speak up, grow a sack, and start speaking out against all the wrong crap that Pope and her cronies are doing. The saddest part of this mess is that those I thought would never take the crap that is being dished to them now appear to can't wait to get another spoonful. Old school TYC staff are just bending over and taking it in an effort to salvage their jobs. I guess my biggest downfall was that I NEVER kissed anybody's butt, I just did my job.

Anonymous said...

1/4-9:38 p.m., Your remarks are uncalled for and most of us are not bending over and taking it. We are exhausted and frustrated that no positive changes have been in spite of our cries. If you were unjustly fired, why aren't your fighting for yourself and others like you by suing the pants off of Pope?? Instead of criticizing old school staff, and there are still many of us left, in this blog.

A new conservator has been named and we are waiting to see what changes he makes. We want to give him the benefit of the doubt. If this man fires d'Pope, he will automatically gain the respect of staff and raise morale to all time high! She has destroyed TYC and sunk it to depths we never knew exsisted. If he does the right thing, we will all help become the best agency in the nation. It is all dependent on him and his involvement with field staff and positive changes! Don't mistake silence for the wait and see attitude of employees or as bending over and taking it. Some of us old timers have been around for quite some time and we won't hesistate to take a stand when its necessary!

2 cents worth!

Anonymous said...

9:38 - Instead of accusing "old school" staff of having no backbone, perhaps you should study up on insurgency. If the insurgents had stood up directly in front of the British troops, instead of hiding behind trees, we would have had a series of "Boston Massacres" and would today be singing "God Save the Queen" as our national anthem.

Anonymous said...

Excuses are like buttholes, they stink and they are full of crap. TYC staff should have marched on the Capitol long ago and demanded change. Continue to bend over and take it, the new Conservator is just another political pawn. If any of you "old timers" have any backbone left, then stand up, organize, and demand change on the steps of the Capitol, otherwise, shut up and continue to take it from the Pope and her cronies.

Anonymous said...

11:21, what's your excuse? Or do you stink too bad to even have one?

Anonymous said...

Must have hit a nerve. The truth hurts a little, huh?

Anonymous said...

If Obama said that the problem with America today is you have had "WHITE" politicians running the show for too long I guess he would get a pass to.....

Anonymous said...

1-5/11:21, Actions speak louder than words! Obviously you are all mouth and a stinky one to boot! Someone should have washed it out with soap several years back. Why didn't you march on the capital steps before you were unjustly fired and demand change? Now you want to critize people you don't even know, get real and put up or shut up!

Anonymous said...

8:41, see 3:00.

Shoe fits? I know what I am doing, and it's not bending over. Continue to grab your ankles for DaPope.

Anonymous said...

You aren't worth my time and engery. You stink like a beemer! Hasta la vista baby!

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you don't have enough time for me because you are too busy taking it up the @&$%^@! from your Agency leadership. Enjoy it if you're not going to fight it.

Anonymous said...

I was informed tonight that Crockett State School is on lock-down and they had to call in riot squads (STAR Teams) to help control the situation. I guess they ran out of ice-cream in the kitchen!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Figures, anybody with any common sense knew Jerome Williams wouldn't be able to handle Crockett. Way to go Stan D, what a great choice for Supt. If the facility blows up and people get hurt, you will be the fool more than ever for throwing Freeman and Blu under the bus for no reason at all other than to protect yourself and kiss the rear of Jay, Ed, and DaPope.

Anonymous said...

What's up with Crockett, are they still on lockdown?

Anonymous said...

Imploded... by by Jerome

Anonymous said...

Does TYC have any Asst. Supt. with over a year experience they can promote to Crockett?

Anonymous said...

Hello, currently that is what is wrong with TYC. You have Supts that haven't got a clue much less experience!! Let's hope the new conservator gets wind of this and does something about it. Some of them have resorted to intimidation for lack of leadership ability. It's sad when a Supt goes around saying if you can't get with the program find another job! It garners no respect at all and lowers morale.

There are no supts with experience to send to Crockett or anywhere else for that matter but to the unemployment line. One can thank Dementia and her TDCJ buds for the great job they've done! They should now feel free to leave the agency!!

Anonymous said...

Curious Mr. Conservator, do the staff in the "Missouri" model wear second rate uniforms? Now we were told we had to wear the Albatross brand of polo-shirt, but today we are being told that TYC will buy us second rate black pants from some third world country. Can you check and see if the current Acting Director (we still hope it is acting) has stock in the garment industry. We all believe this is where her true calling is at, fashion design.