Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oral histories allege abusive TYC practices

The Dallas News today has a feature by Gregg Jones entitled "The Faces of TYC" (Dec. 2). They've also published an interactive website featuring video interviews with inmates, parents, staff, whistleblowers and watchdogs.

Jones' piece today tracks the case of former TYC inmate Chris Gann. As in other such stories, TYC staff were prohibited by confidentiality laws from addressing specifics about the youth's behavior, so the tale is largely told from the ex-inmate's point of view, for good or ill. But in particular I wanted to ask current and past Youth Commission employees about two practices described by Mr. Gann that were allegedly used at the now-closed Marlin unit. Read this, TYC'ers, and tell me if you've ever witnessed these tactics in action:

The staff at the TYC prison in Marlin called it "discipline training."

Every afternoon, for an hour or longer in the summer heat, Mr. Gann and other Marlin inmates were forced to run laps around a dirt track inside the compound, he said. On a staff member's command, the inmates would throw themselves to the ground for push-ups, then scramble to their feet for more laps.

Anyone who stopped without permission was slammed to the ground, handcuffed and left to lie in the blazing sun, he said.

"We were all just falling over and throwing up," said Mr. Gann, by then 14. When it was all over, "we would all be laying there, crying, sore, all scraped up and bleeding."

Young inmates who got sick or hurt found little sympathy, he said.

"When you would go to the infirmary, all they would tell you was to drink water and you'd be OK," he said.

Inmates also performed a drill known as "55-5," he said, in which they would stand at attention for 55 minutes at their bunks, then sit for five minutes. They did this about six times a day, he said.

Does the description of "discipline training" accurately describe how youth were treated at Marlin or at other TYC facilities? Are kids made to run or exercise to exhaustion? Has anyone ever witnessed a youth handcuffed out in the sun for ceasing rigorous exercise without staff permission?

And is the "drill" (not much of a drill, really) that Gann refers to as "55-5" still used at TYC, and if so what is it's purpose? The claim that up to six hours of a 24-hour day were spent on 55-5 drills, seems outrageous: Can this be corroborated?

The videos are compelling.
While administrators claim abuse of youth has been 98% reduced, I wonder whether all the agency's abusive practices have even been identified? The DMN website along with Gann's story makes me think that a pure oral history project interviewing inmates and staff, in particular, would substantially enlighten debates over what's wrong at TYC and what should be done.

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find this article questionable. Running laps sounds like what we used to do in school. We called it PE, which is mandated by the state education agency as part of the seven hour school day. Deposing paychecks in a trust account is necessary to keep youth in halfway houses from taking the money and running. Deductions from those accounts for youth purchases such as phone cards is common. I would doubt that any youth would ever be aware that there was some sort of shortage in those accounts and if there was, the youth would never be shortchanged. If a youth was doing this 55/5 for six hours a day as a common practice at Marlin, I would have expected to have seen or heard of a grievance and expected a child abuse investigation by the IG's.

I tend to think there is a little truth to this youth's story but a great deal of exageration and placing blame for one's problems on someone else. I also smell a lawsuit being set up.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Truly amazing stuff, Grits, if it is true. It boggles my mind to think that they really could be true.

These types of "disciplinary" practices differ little from ones used decades ago.

One of the Gatesville inmates who made headlines in January 1969 had been made to run laps in the heat until he passed out, then he was beaten so badly that he was rendered comatose and hospitalized for 2 months.

His parents testified before the Texas House. According to them, the boy was actually returned to Gatesville after his recovery. When his parents came to visit him, they found the very guard he had claimed to have beaten him "settin' there with his cowboy boots on." (the boy actually had a bruise in the shape of a boot print on his chest).

TYC and their formidable political allies went to the mat to defend the agency against these types of claims in 1969, and successfully prevented any meaningful reform from taking place. This cleared the way for Morales.

IMO, it's just a matter of time before another Morales-like lawsuit is filed. Maybe after a new DOJ is installed in spring 2009... unless the state govt takes some serious action.

BB

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Running laps sounds like what we used to do in school. We called it PE"

I remember PE. The part I don't remember is kids who stopped without permission being handcuffed laying on the ground in the hot sun.

Anonymous said...

It is true. The part about a youth falling out and handcuffed in the sun never happened. Unless the youth became aggressive where he had to be handcuffed. I did see the laps take place. Youth who became to overwhelmed were allowed to walk until they could run again. This was part of PT. Dorms on restriction were sometimes taken to the security yard for PT and some of this may have occured. It was never done to abuse From what I saw.

Anonymous said...

Howard, I agree that some of these claims seem almost inconceivable.

But many public observers will find even exaggerated claims credible in the current environment and given the current admin's track record.

BTW, Grits, I agree with you that a major oral history project would be a valuable undertaking. I've been entertaining this idea for months b/c I've been hearing from some long time staff by e-mail but haven't had any time to really conduct interviews. (And my apologies, you know who you are)

This would be a completely new thing in the field of juvenile justice. Although there are dozens of historical studies of JJ, no oral histories of this sort exist. So it would make a valuable contribution nationally as well as locally to our understanding of JJ.

My view is that such a project could get funding from either OJJDP or a private foundation, or a combo of public-private sources.

Without divulging too much, the cards may fall into place for me to undertake this project next year. I may be moving back to TX this spring, and my book should (finally) be done over Xmas break.

Bill B.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Outstanding news, Bill! Here's hoping all that comes to pass.

You know, thinking back I'm probably hypersensitized to the whole thing about running laps because in Jr. High I had a football coach who was basically a sadist who would impose group punishments for individual misbehaviors. From that experience, I learned that running laps can be routine PT, or it can be easily pushed to a form of abuse. I remember this jerk running us in the Texas sun until a couple of dozen kids were literally vomiting all over themselves as they jogged along. Kids who quit would often throw tantrums that in TYC would easily get you handcuffed. For us, instead, the coach would have you put on pads and make you tackle an oak tree. We were never very good, but we were "disciplined." Ah, the joys of youth.

Anonymous said...

"Tackle an oak tree" - LOL...

I have to add another question, about the DMN article's portrayal of retaliation for filing grievances. The report seems to document this kid's claims to retaliation pretty thoroughly... the stuff about Turman House was especially appalling.

Back in the old pre-Morales days, kids often had time added for complaining to staff, parents, or lawyers. In fact, not complaining was sometimes listed explicitly as a "treatment goal" toward rehab.

My question is, has this really changed?

I wonder if "rehabilitation" needs to be re-imagined in the context of youth rights, which were only introduced into juvenile justice in the 1970s.

Consider the stories circulating about youth who are required to admit guilt as part of their treatment plan, even when they are still appealing their charges and maintaining innocence.

Retaliation in the form of added time for filing a grievance seems to be part of this dynamic.

Bill B.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, does TYC Marlin Unit and others not have taped video feed? Watch 6-months worth and determine for yourselves!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ BB: "LOL" - yes, that's how the coach viewed it, too, though the bruises on your shoulders afterward weren't so funny. In retrospect, truly sadistic. I'd say more if it weren't impolite to speak ill of the dead.

And @ 10:56 - Excellent suggestion! The Marlin unit is now defunct, and I don't know how long video is kept (likely not THAT long), but you've certainly suggested a methodology to verify current or recent practices.

Anonymous said...

Hell yes Marlin has tape and video's. Marlin was so corrupt they keep the one's they wanted to use to fire employees with or use against a kid. Any videos showing any type of embarrassment to the unit seemed to get lost.

Emily said...

I haven't heard about the laps, but many of the kids we've talked to remember "5 and 55" -- standing in parade rest for fifty-five minutes, then five minutes of rest. One boy who had back problems says he was given heavy painkillers so he could continue the drill.

An oral history project on TYC would be amazing, Bill. I hope you are able to undertake it. And glad to hear the book is coming along, too.

Anonymous said...

The video when taped was on a DVR system and depending on how much video were talking about it usually lasted for 2 to 3 months tops and then would erase. Most of these systems do not use "Video Tape" and if they do it is generally re-used and taped over but I do believe the system at Marlin was a DVR system and based upon memory space it is long gone.

Anonymous said...

Marlin didn't "get rid of" video. The video from most of Marlin's cameras was available for only two to three weeks and then was automatically deleted by the system to make room on the server for new video. If it was not downloaded for some reason to someone's computer or to a CD, it evaporated.

Video used in any investigation of mistreatment at Marlin is on CDs and stored at the central office.

Video at Marlin was used to confirm staff and exonerate staff. Video was used to give students more time in TYC and it was used to cancel Level II hearings. Video was used to commend staff with good child care practices and counsel staff without such good practices.

Anonymous said...

What a smelly way of putting it 12:43PM.

Anonymous said...

Since every youth in TYC went through Marlin and there were thousands of them it should not be hard to find a hundred or so who could confirm this alleged abuse. There is nothing that prevents this youth from giving out dozens of youth names who could confirm his story.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Scott--which middle school?

Anonymous said...

12:59, I don't understand your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Hickman,

When I was MOAU I had called you on several occassions for advise or programming issues. You were pretty cool. I agree that if those who want to get to the bottom of this mess seek out past youth. It would be a great benefit to find the truth regarding abuses at Marlin. But Marlin was not the problem.

Marlin was a facility that received youth that were just ajudicated from the Court as you know. MOAU certainly had it's issues but was probably staffed with TYC's best, not including administrators however. MOAU was the head of the snake. MOAU was a process. It was the begining of setting youth's minds straight. MOAU moulded youth for what TYC expected and what they should have continued to expect as they progressed. Because of the complicated bureaucratic mess the youth were then immersed into chaos. They became disllusioned and then came attitudes of "Fuck-it," excused the wording, but that was the attitude. They began a journey to what they believed would change their lives for the better. What they got was the same old BS that developed their value system to begin with. What do you think TYC should do to improve?

Anonymous said...

I never worked directly at Marlin, but in 14 years with TYC, almost every youth I did work with at Crockett or Corsicana came through Marlin. I never heard about any of these practices from those kids. That doesn't mean it couldn't have happened but I have a hard time believing either was a routine practice. I realize there are legitimate reasons why a youth in TYC mught fear retaliation for reporting mistreatment but my experience was that when youth faced extreme or inappropriate treatment at one school and then went to another school that did not do the same thing, they tended to start talking about what happened at the other school.
>Don Brantley

BO-COOL said...

What is with all this BS? Focus on what causes youth to be screwed up. Focus on those issues. Develop treatment that addresses those issues. Hire staff that can identify and facilitate an understanding of those issues. Develop treatment based on those observations and input from at risk youth suggestions.

Each generation is out of touch with the previous. Enable youth, listen to them, Why should they change, ask youth what would better them as a person, impower them to make decisions and then show them what happens regarding good or bad. Then stand by them. This dogshit you all are trying to sell for personal benefit and ego makes me sick. I was released from TYC last year. Nothing I have read in this blog means shit to me or other youth. If you want to help us don't confine us like criminals, show us a better way, give us hope, give us a future to look forward to. TYC just taught most of us how to be better criminals. The entire TYC program was nothing but abuse and corruption. Jesus what will it take to get adults to stop their BS. This is why so many of us are F---k--up. Adults are even more confused and F------up than we are to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I believe the kid is telling the truth about the 5-55's because I've heard the same thing from kids and parents. The kid in the DMN isn't the only one who's alleged this practice.

Even if lots of kids did have to engage in 5-55's, I don't think they'd necessarily report it because they're wary of retaliation, and given all the problems the agency has, standing around for almost an hour seems somewhat minor compared to being slammed into walls, being molested by another kid in your dorm, or having your food taken away from you every day. If all the kids around you were having to do the 5-55's, too, it would be easy to believe that the routine was just something you're supposed to accept and not think too much about. Hey, at least you weren't getting bloodied or raped.

Anonymous said...

Develop a program were self-esteem is rebuilt. Break-em and rebuild them for the good of themselves and society. If they can't conform send them to the rock pits.

Anonymous said...

55 and 5 did happen at Marlin. It was later changed to 25 and 5. For years I saw this practice and the kid is telling the absolute truth. What he doesn’t make clear on the laps is this was a routine for dorms on “Restriction” for a few of the youth not following the rules. As few as 3 to 5 youth on a dorm of 25 youth could get the entire dorm put on restriction. Peer pressure was supposed to straighten out the youth not following the program. Dorms on dorm restriction would be taken to the security rec yard to run laps or do exercises until they were so tired they could hardly stand. They would be all dirty from being in the dirt during part of the exercises. The youth would not be allowed clean clothes after getting all dirty. I have personally seen youth handcuffed lying on the ground. One of the current administrators at Mart once handcuffed a youth to a chain link fence during a thunder storm and still works for TYC. Later the practice oh handcuffing youth to lay on the ground was replaced by them being taken inside to security to stand while handcuffed until their dorm came back in.

I have worked for TYC for many years and I doubt there are many staff still around from Marlin who saw this practice. So you need to take in account the time period it occurred and that these policies came and went. Just because some of the commenting didn’t see it is not proof it never happened.

The one thing I always thought was wrong was how all the youth on a dorm were punished for the wrong doing of a very few. Peer pressure was supposed to care of the problem. Peer pressure usually happened at about 2 in the morning from one of the peers and often did correct the problem. If you don’t have enough staff then let the youth use peer pressure while staff is not looking on.

I always thought punishing youth for someone else’s wrong doing was not the way to go but I was told by administration I wasn’t paid to think. If I didn’t like the program I should find a new job.

Anonymous said...

Criminals as a whole have no problem with Self-esteem. In fact many have great self-esteem. They often lack empathy and the respect from others which they often demand.

I am willing to bet that there is a kernel of truth to the youth's story but I am sure his that much of this is taken out of context.

Remember many of the youth have long history's of problems with authority, many would often compare their treatment to that of dogs because they no longer had the freedoms they once had and had to follow structured routines.

Marlin did PT, occasionally staff would make erroneous choices. This did not mean that the practice was acceptable or condoned.

Example, was toilet paper rationed...Yes, for two reasons. One, to refrain from excessive use and two to keep youth from stopping up the toilets on purpose (wound up using their shirts.) Some staff would go to an extreme and might give too little misinterpeting the intent or entered into into power and control issues. Students were supposed to be given sufficient toilet paper and more if needed but not the entire roll because hx showed that this created problems.

Anonymous said...

"Develop a program were self-esteem is rebuilt. Break-em and rebuild them for the good of themselves and society. If they can't conform send them to the rock pits."

That's a worthless and contradictory suggestion. Why would someone gain self-esteem if they understood that if they failed, they'd be forced into labor? That doesn't make someone feel worthwhile. It just makes them afraid to fail. It does tell them, however, that they're worth so little that they deserve a life of hard labor and incarceration.

Some kids have too much self-esteem and too little empathy. Some kids have low self-esteem and respond violently to any form of criticism because they live in a state of shame and self-hatred and take everything personally. Most kids have had so little structure that they were never given the opportunity to develop habits that consistently create good or bad consequences, so they engage in risky behavior and just try not to get caught. Morality and the law doesn't come into play for them because they've never lived within a moral system in a stable household.

TYC's job is to tell the difference between the kids who hurt out of a sense of entitlement and the kids who hurt others out of a sense of inner pain. TYC's job is to have a consistent set of rewards and consequences that is fair and understood by all staff and youth. Psychology has shown that humans respond more predictably to positive, rather than negative reinforcement. That means that when kids do well, they should be consistently rewarded, and you can expect better behavior from them. Alternatively, if you take away good things or basic rights, there's less chance they'll respond positively. Continually throwing a kid in security or tearing up their letters from friends as punishment will not result in better behavior. It will result in a sense of defiance coming from a kid's desire to exert some kind of control over their own life, even if it means getting their face ground into the floor.

TYC needs more psychological experts. They need people who can tell the difference between different kind of kids, and they need people who kids can unload their feelings on in a private manner, instead of sitting around and languishing in groups that don't invite inner reflection, a sense of security, or honesty. TYC needs to get rid of pepper spray and stop the downward spiral into a systemic acceptance of physical and mental abuse.

The core problem, as we all know, is that TYC cannot attract and retain the people who have the skills to deal with its kids, so TYC relies on a heavily blanketed approach that is more about maintaining order and avoiding riots than it is about self-discovery and personal responsibility. Why would any child come to believe the real world operates on a system of personal responsibility and honest effort when they see what transpires in TYC? The employees who try their hardest and do a good job are up against all the employees, programming, and infrastructure that neglect to meet kids' needs.

The public must become willing to have smaller TYC facilities in their midst and be willing to pay for them. They need to be accessible to courts, families, and professional experts, and a greater sense of accountability will arise when TYC feels a part of, rather than apart from, our society. Unfortunately, I doubt that most Texans are willing to provide what TYC's kids need. People often enjoy witnessing punishment and retribution more than they do absolution.

Anonymous said...

"I always thought punishing youth for someone else’s wrong doing was not the way to go but I was told by administration I wasn’t paid to think. If I didn’t like the program I should find a new job."

I think this is wrong, too. This approach is often used in the military or youth's athletics, but both the military and athletics are full of people willing to be there who have a common goal. Obviously, kids do not want to be in TYC, and they do not have a common goal.

Some kids will feel bad if their entire dorm gets punished for their behavior. Others will enjoy wielding that kind of power and won't give a crap if others suffer for it. I'm sure that sometimes the kids who get everyone in trouble because they have psychological problems and have little impulse control get threatened and/or beaten up so they'll avoid screwing up again. That's not fair to them because they have medical needs that can't be corrected through intimidation.

This practice might build teamwork in some dorms, the dorms that have non-violent sex offenders, for instance, but it's a poor policy for the entire population. It leads to frustration and hopelessness for the kids who get punished for someone else's mistakes or mental illness.

Anonymous said...

Marlin had a tape system that was replaced in the last year with the new DVR system. Investigators usually find that witness statements are not terribly reliable, since often times kids lie to get staff in trouble, and staff lie when the do something wrong, and their fellow staff are reluctant to "snitch" them out. There are always exceptions in both directions. Often the tapes were the key evidence that either confirmed the allegation or cleared the staff. However, at some institutions the keepers of the tapes played games with the investigators - especially if the tapes tended to confirm an allegation against a favored staff member. One assistant superintendent told his JCO VIs that if they did something that went out of bounds to control youth, to let him know immediately and he would make sure the tape would be taken care of. Sure enough, when the tape was requested, it had either "gone missing", or it had mysterious gaps a la the Nixon audiotapes.

The newer DVR systems are a big improvement for several reasons. One, there are more cameras and thus, fewer dead spots; and two, the video is available directly on the investigators' desktops. The biggest problem now is capacity. If an allegation comes out late, the video may no longer be available. At the present time, DVRs with increased capacity are being installed. It makes pretty good evidence. Incidentally, the video tends to clear the staff at least as often as it confirms allegations. If staff are doing their jobs, they have nothing to fear from the video.

Anonymous said...

I learned about the 55-5 earlier this year. I suspect that someone has filed a complaint with the current TYC administration about this, but that it has gone largely uninvestigated because Marlin is now closed.

Anonymous said...

4:55 has it exactly right (second paragraph anyway). I believe that central office administrators could also view video from any facilities with the new system -- either live or from the server. That's what staff at Marlin were told, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I read the article and I know the kid. No one ever complained of this sort of discipline training while I was with TYC. It sounds like Chris has found an audience and has embellished his experiences with things that he has heard other ex students say.

If what he says is true, it is a serious allegation of abuse. But it is one heck of a time to come forth with allegations of this nature. I do not remember him as a writer of grievances so it would take someone with a lot of time to go after the documentation he claims to have left.

The unfortunate thing about Chris is that I believe what he says about Ray Brookins. Brookins was what we once called a "TriSexual;" If it was sexual he would try it. (Note his arrest in Lometa for having his vehicle full of sex toys.)

Anonymous said...

1:44,

I am not criticizing Marlin. What I am saying is that if all this alleged abuse was as rampant as this youth claims, there would be thousands of witnesses. It is unlikely that not one of those thousands complained, and it would be unlikely that either Don or I never heard about it.

I am not naive enough to believe that some abuses did not happen but this youth makes it sound like it was everywhere at Marlin which is easy to prove because there would be thousands of witnesses. The reporter should have done some follow-up with witnesses this youth should have known instead of writing a story with the journalistic standards of the National Inquirer.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Howard don't go and ask the kids that were at Marlin about anything you don't really want to find out about. If an extensive investigation were done that included interviews of youth from years past there will be a lot of your old friends on the way to jail. The TX Rangers were told to talk to past TYC kids to find out the truth but they declined. Higher ups wouldn't allow it.

Anonymous said...

Don’t believe the kids that have been in TYC!!! They are all getting together to lie about Marlin and all of the other TYC units. I bet they are all text messaging each other at this very moment on what to say. All of the news media that report similar stories are in on it with the kids! It is a vast conspiracy against TYC by the media and the criminal kids of Texas. The entire West Texas story was a fabrication!!! Don’t let all these people mislead you citizens of Texas, TYC had no problems. It is all a conspiracy, you hear me? It is all a conspiracy!

Anonymous said...

6:12,

I doubt that any of my friends would be going to jail if there was an investigation. You missed my point that if this massive abuse existed as one would conclude from the MSM article, there would be thousands of witnesses. Where are they?

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Howard they have been screwed by the system so much they know it would do no good to come forward.

All this talk about TYC for months and not one person has gone to jail for any of it.

You are absolutly right none of your old friends will go to jail. All of you in CO knew about WTSS along with the governor. You may put yourself out as a good guy but you were one of the administration who brought TYC down.

I think it is time to demand interviews of past TYC youth to get to the real truth what ever it may be.

If it were not for the MSM none of the TYC youth would have ever been talked to. To many people know there is a large measure of truth to what they have to say and don't want that to come out.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Parker and Mikulastik on video reminds me not to believe everything I see in the media.

Anonymous said...

8:00

How did I bring down TYC? The prosecution of the villians at WTSS is the responsibity of the District Attorney, not the Central Office. The MSM for the sake of a headline have created a TYC that has little hope of treating the youth in its care and given TYC a set of incompetent, unqualfied administrators who ignore court orders and openly advocate abuse of the youth under their care. I resent you stereotyping me based solely on your ignorance. If you,know something that I did, tell me what it was. PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

If the Raangers really did refuse to interview past TYC youth, then good for them, it is about time some common sense was used. Now if we can get folks to understand that alot of TYC youth do lie as well as their parents, and some of the staff, especially disgruntled ex-TYC employees. Many good people with spotless TYC careers were taken out by the lies of a few.

Anonymous said...

Can't you feel the love? Any time I think my life could use some cheap entertainment I read GFB on the TYC saga. You guys are funnier than the Sunday Cartoons! I especially like the way you tear into each other. GFB should rename this TYC SMACK DOWN or SURVIVOR TYC! All of you can have the satisfaction you have entertained many GFB readers for several months now. Keep up the great programming. You are making fools of yourselves but you are doing it for a good cause, our entrainment! I can hardly wait for the next episode.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that Mr. Hickman can "smell a lawsuit" being set up as he was oblivious when he was handing out "advice" via email to superintendents regarding a whistleblower who spoke up and was trying to protect themselves...I seem to recall Mr. Hickman being on the wrong side of that one.

Guess your strong sense of "smell" didn't catch that one, huh?

It never ceases to amaze me how people can switch sides so suddenly.
Hickman....you were ONE OF THEM.

Anonymous said...

I read the DMN article and it could have been written by many youth that I interacted with at TYC. His article seemed pretty genuine to the treatment of those youth.

I had a youth come to me ( JCO staff) and report that his caseworker had told him that he would recieve more time because I felt he was trying to "victimize" the facility by talking to the Rangers about suspected abuse!

So yes, this continues...to this day.

Anonymous said...

sorry, I meant the caseworker felt like that, not me.

Anonymous said...

The recount is true. It appears that the mentality "don't believe them because they are inmates" is still alive and well. Has anyone watched the legislature hearings, read the newspaper? These kids, all different ages, all different units, all different races, colors, creeds and level of charges...and they ALL tell the same thing over and over and over and over. The other video run on the one kid who "ran the dorm" is equal to the story of the one's who was victimized. Get real! Take your heads out of your self righteousness and realize that maybe YOU didn't commit the horrible actions but it DOES happen - has happened and is still happening. Admitting that there is a problem is means to a correction....denying it...leds to the continum of abuse. I don't care if they are "inmates" or "ex-inmates"....wasn't that their form of society punishment? So, how are we to hold to a belief of "do the crime-do the time" if we constantly keep knocking them down? Are you saying credibility is lessened because of the incarceration? If so, that is absolute foolishness because some of the main abusers have been TYC staff without a prison jacket and they got off with some of these heinous actions....innocent people have been to jail and released AFTER doing alot of time....does tht make them wrong as well? Of course not, so choose carefully "this day who you will serve"....but for me "on this day I will serve the Lord." And that means telling the truth no matter what. Abuse was rampant at TYC, it still is....retailation. I have seen in open view - just this past weekend..parents bringing in contraband to the units (cigarettes, CD -porn) and etc and laughing and the security staff did nothing but take the fifty dollars cash that boys momma brought with him as they changed shoes under the table, passed cigarettes etc., and yet...these kids are the ones.....I won't even finish....TYC has major issues - and abuse happens and is still happening. Admit it, Correct it and Repair it....NOT bandaid it.

Lawman said...

You probably did not believe any other staff or youth either 8:10PM, or did nothing about the abuses when such information may have been forwarded up. If you feel the way you do about the media stay off the net and don't ever buy another newspaper.

Anonymous said...

"Compelling to say the least. Best described as ROME falling. What's next?

Anonymous said...

Its all true! The inmates, youth, student's, whatever you want to call them are SPEAKING the truth!!! Its easy for Hickman to shut them down as liars, because he was right there in CO when they were retaliating against the staff member's who were speaking up.

Let me get this straight, all of these kids, all of these staff members are lying and YOU and your CO cronies are telling the truth???
BULLSH*T!!!!

Anonymous said...

3:49,

I have never been asked about any whistleblower's claim by any TYC staff while I was a TYC lawyer. You have me confused with someone else.

3:06,

I never called anyone "liars." What I said is that if what the youth was saying about Marlin were true, it could be confirmed by many of the thousands who passed through Marlin, and there is no confirmation in the article. I also said I never heard about what would have been substantial abuse, and abuse on the scale claimed is something that nearly every TYC employee would have heard about. I am therefore not inclined to believe the news story but do not necessarily disbelieve that some of the things alleged may have occurred on a smaller scale and possibly the scale or the circumstances were exagerated.

I just do not follow Will Rogers statement "that all I know is what I read in the newspapers." I tend to be better informed than the average reporter and from experience know a PR event for a lawsuit when I see one.

Howard A. Hickman

hamhead said...

55-5's were a punative disciplinary tatic started at Marlin. That did occur, but then CO caught it and made them stop. A lot of punative interventions went on at Marlin when I was there, esp. when it first opened. A lot of it was to show those kids that we were a new get tuff TYC under the Bush Plan, and by God we were going get their attention. It got out of hand...midnight exercise, it was crazy.

Anonymous said...

No, unfortunately for you...I DO NOT have you confused with anybody else. YOUR name is all over my termination papers. If you were not aware of the circumstances under which i was terminated then who's fault is that??

Nice try...maybe in the future you might want to investigate things more before you put your "two-cents" in.

Anonymous said...

8:05 a.m. If you did not report what you witnessed the security staff do and the parent who brought in the contraband, you are as much to blame now for the abuses at that occur at TYC. You should have admitted what you saw, corrected it, attempted to repair it but you failed to even put a bandaid on it. Blatant violations like that should be reported, if true. If you didn't, you have no right to complain about TYC's situation or mention the Lord in the same sentence. That is terribly hypocrtical of you and how are you going to justify that to the Lord??

You turned your head while contraband was brought in and watched staff take money to look the other way. You are just as guility in contributing to the corruption as that staff & parent.

You talk about the problems in TYC, well dude, you are one of the problems!!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember that Get Tough plan by George Bush,, Didnt He start shaving heads during that period??

Anonymous said...

Alan Steen was the superintendent at Marlin when it first opened. He got promoted from there to be a director, and is now the head of TADC. It doesn't look like he got stepped on too hard for these alleged abuses! I tend to agree with Howard that these abuses may well have occurred, but if so, they were isolated cases and not so widespread as is alleged. As for the guy who claims he saw the contraband, etc this past weekend, he should know that he is criminally liable if he did not report this anywhere else than on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, Mart II was in lockdown today as not enough staff showed up to even run the dorms. 1 staff per 2 dorms. The youth stayed in their cells. Yeah, these new ratios are really working aren't they?

Anonymous said...

6:43,

I only handled justifiable termination hearings. There was something there or there would not have been a termination hearing. If you tell me who you are, I can tell you what it was if you do not already know.

It may shock you but I did not make the decision to terminate you. I only defended the decision in a hearing in which you had to have been represented by another attorney or a qualified advocate. The hearings examiner made a recommendation, and the Executive Director made the final decision. I have not actually fired anyone since 1982 so your blame is misplaced.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Well at lest Howard has the guts to sign his name to his post. Good lord, would you people stop all of this bashing each other.

Lets split the difference here, the others stop bragging on all the Old TYC CREW. Not everyone has the same opinion of everybody.

This is not what the blog is meant for is it? Blaming everyone for the everything else that does not matter a hell of beans anymore. Past is the Past. We need to be worrying about OUR FUTURES.

Those that are gone or still working at TYC, hire a lawyer if you have been fired or mistreated, hell there is enough of us out here that could boost the income of that profession.
At lest someone would be making some money somewhere. If we keep up this blame game we are all going to be standing in the unemployment line together.
Come up with a plan people to save TYC and your job.

Anonymous said...

What Mr. Gann says is entirely plausible. The death of a youth in a Florida Boot Camp with physical problems forced to engage in strenuous physical activities has been in the news repeatedly. While well intentioned, these staff went clearly overboard, and, in fact, faced murder charges. It is entirely possible that staff at Marlin or elsewhere had youth engage in dangerous PE activities as described. Look at the 1969 incident at TYC described below where staff forced youngsters to engage in dangerous activities. Also, the lengthening of stay by staf at San Saba is well-known. San Saba (until it was closed) had the longest average stay of TYC facilities. Mr. Gann's account of the lengthening of his stay at San Saba sounds completely plausible. His difficulties with one of those later involved in the sex abuse scandal at West Texas is also plausible. The mistake in his sex offender rating is documented and inexcusable. There are also the other accounts of youth at TYC programs published in the newspapers which depict horrific treatment. They can't all be lying. The ones in denial are those at TYC like Mr. Hickson rushing to defend TYC without hard evidence. Even if parts of Mr. Gann's story are not true or cannot be verified is beside the point. I would think that TYC staff or someone else would find it somewhere in their hearts to try to help Mr. Gann.

Anonymous said...

Certainly none of what is being reported by these youth is being done so in an objective manner, nor should it be expected to be from their perspective.

I don't think Mr. "Hickson" aka Hickman has rushed out to defend anyone but himself.

Certainly not all of what these youth are saying is factually consistent.

Certainly, if even a fraction of what they say contains elements of truth there ARE widespread problems with abuse in TYC.

I think Emily's argument against also documenting positive staff or TYC youth outcomes is unfortunate. It can be a tale of both good and evil. Not including both causes a real distrust of you by good staff who will not talk to you because the brush is only willing to smear the wall with one color. Thus you really don't have access to the reality in TYC because in your effort to support the disenfranchised you are losing the perspective of those who truly try to support and help these kids.

Is that really true? Mart 2 on lockdown because of lack of staff? This cannot be. There is a 12 to 1 ratio at all facilities at all times.

Anonymous said...

"There are also the other accounts of youth at TYC programs published in the newspapers which depict horrific treatment. They can't all be lying." No, all are not lying, but many are. There is usually at least a grain of truth to any story. Furthermore, newspapers report allegations without specifying that they are allegations and not confirmed or proven fact. They should be more careful. The result can be that the public is given a vastly overblown and distorted version of the real picture. This is what has happened to TYC this year.

If a person allows his emotions to run away with him or if that person already had an agenda or prejudice, he will believe anything.

Anonymous said...

Grits, the postline cries of bias, which i guess is your right as it is your blog, however using the word practices implies sanctioned policies...clearly not the case. Many youth at MOAU did do alot of standing on that yellow line and a 55-5 routine must have been used by many staff at one time because it was specifically addressed as unacceptable in emails from institutional administrators while I was there.

Anonymous said...

The 12 to 1 ratio is the biggest joke out there! I bet not one single facility in TYC truly has those numbers. The ratio numbers can be easily manipulated and have been for years, even before the scandal broke. Mart II has been understaffed forever, and has begged for help. The staff are exhausted having to work 12-16 hr days with no rest days(and no overtime).I just wonder if the lege will be asked to come work the dorms or run the pickets when there is not enough staff to even cover those?

Anonymous said...

Folks we might as well face the fact that TYC has been destroyed! Bad administrators replaced by worse administrators along with a healthy helping of politicians thrown in have destroyed TYC. TYC is so bad off no one of any stature wants the job of running the agency because they know it cannot be fixed and will be a seen as a failure on their record. The word is out the governor’s office is trying to find administrative leadership for TYC but has been turned down. When $10,000 a month jobs are turned down you know there is a major problem!

Staffing numbers are getting worse not better. The post about Mart 2 only having 1 staff for 2 dorms tells it all. TYC is fast approaching a critical point where the staff shortages will cause mass staff departures. I think you will see TYC staff compelled to work long hours in extremely dangerous situations to attempt to keep the agency open causing more to flee employment at TYC. Staff may be forced to work at units anywhere in the state to keep the doors open. The downward spiral is well established and the end for TYC is near.

It is heart breaking to see an agency that needed positive changes destroyed by poor leadership choices. TYC is the perfect example of a “lose – lose” situation; the students have lost any type of meaningful rehab program and many good hard working staff have had their careers ruined. Families of both students and staff will suffer extreme negative effects. The fallout from the TYC fiasco will be far ranging with long term effects that we can only imagine at this point! How many millions were spent to generate this miserable outcome of destruction and human suffering by our elected and appointed leaders? Shame to all of you in positions of power who were responsible for what TYC is today!

Anonymous said...

When the Executive Director is wasting her time making "important" decisions about rearranging offices and picking out carpets you know she doesn't have a clue about running the agency. She could probably make a better living, with less stress, as a Hollywood interior designer!
If it is true that she is "untouchable," what competent person in his/her right mind would want to oversee this agency?

Anonymous said...

Whoops, posted that last comment on the wrong string. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

12/03/2007 06:50:00 PM I did report it. You are talking without even knowing...bottom line, I saw it, I reported it, he went to security and the other kids that went...got threatened that if they tell....I was told it was "dealt with." So, stop trying to correct me...and correct that system you want to defend...I guarantee I won't.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 9:22 who writes "the postline cries of bias, which i guess is your right as it is your blog, however using the word practices implies sanctioned policies...clearly not the case."

If the 55/5 was a "drill," then it was a sanctioned policy. The article did not say it had been abolished, and I still don't know the precise history of when or how that happened. My post asked point blank if it was still a practice. I still don't 100% know it's not practiced anywhere else (hard to prove a negative), and I've seen no overt policy banning it.

As for the laps, if kids were handcuffed on the ground there's a policy behind it, whether they followed it or not. If it happened routinely, one assumes it was the "practice," whatever the policy. While I'll own my biases, I don't think this particular headline overstates what the Dallas News article alleges.

To the person who wanted the name of the middle school - too long ago, the coach is deceased, and there's no sense in hurting his family, who I still know. I didn't recall it to dredge up old wounds (in this case, my own), but as context for how "running laps" could become abusive.

Y'all, this has been a really productive comment string, and it would be even more so if everybody weren't so much at each other's throats. Dialog is useful when it generates new information or context, but it can also be mean-spirited and harmful. Remember folks, especially TYC employees, sooner or later these managers will be gone - this is just a career step for the TDCJrs, anyway - and those of y'all who've made a career of TYC will still have to be able to work together to pick up the pieces.

I know from experience it's easy to turn on one another in a high-stress work environment with poor management, but all the personal attacks and accusations not only don't help anyone, but demean those who lower themselves to make them. Let's try to be better than that. Thanks,

Anonymous said...

Grits,

The first time I ever heard of the '55/5' process was around March 2007. Then acting Exec. Dir. Ed Owens forwarded me an e-mail from one of the TDCJ Inspector Generals in which he said he had heard of this practice from a TYC Inspector General. I personally contacted the TYC IG named in the e-mail and he reported that he had never actually seen or confirmed it, he had just heard about in the past (several years ago). He could not recall where it may have occurred. I polled the Directors of Corrections and none of them acknowledged having heard of this practice. I had them poll the existing superintendents and reportedly none of them were familiar with this practice. Everyone was supposedly clear that such a practice would not be appropriate. TYC policy forbids corporal punishment and has done so as far back as I can remember. The practices described by Mr. Gann, if accurate, would clearly be designed to cause physical discomfort and as such would be a violation of that policy. Not having seen or heard complaints of this from any youth, I was left with the impression that if this 55/5 practice had occurred, it was in the past and not widespread. That is what the information I had suggested. Seeing some of the posts in this string, I now wonder. However, from those who have reported that 55/5 did occur at Marlin, I am still not clear when they are saying it happened - recently, several years ago, or even many years ago.

>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

GAP 95.1 outlines the standards for disciplinary practices and requires specific authorization in the policy for a disciplinary practice. 55/5 does not meet the standards of 95.1 or is it an authorized practice within Chapter 95.

Grits, TYC policy is what is in the GAP. It is not created when someone does something outside that policy. A violation of GAP policy is not the act of the agency but the act of an individual. That is why sovereign immunity does not apply to state employees who act outside policy.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Thanks Howard.

Emily said...

9:17, I must not have made myself clear. I have no argument whatsoever against documenting the good work that many staff have done. Our film will have interview from current and former staff, and they will have their say about TYC policies and the rationalte behind them, as well as the work they have tried to do helping the kids. The staff we talked to all care about kids very much, and this will be apparent.

What I actually said is (in all likelihood) we will not be able make all this positive work the *focus* of the film. As it stands right now, there are too many issues at the agency for us to make a feel-good film about the successes TYC. However, our release date is still a year away. If the agency gets turned around by then, then the film WILL be a success story. I'm sure that's what we all want.

Anonymous said...

With the choice of youth that you have chose to interview, I question your intentions. One in particular lies whenever his mouth is open, and his mother is a bigger liar than him. You may want to rethink your choice of youth that you have chosen, that is if you want the truth.

Anonymous said...

I can think of numerous youth who would be better choices than those you chose. Unfortunately, they have to remain anonymous - those pesky old confidentiality laws again.

Anonymous said...

Prior to the outbreak of the scandal, TYC's internal investigators were confirming between 15-20 perecent of all allegations of abuse and neglect. That means there was stuff going on that had no place in our rehabilitative efforts, and the investigators were actively pursuing it. For some reason, prior to the scandal out there coming to light, there was no internal investigator assigned to WTSS - I wonder why?

Additionally, we had administrators at some of our institutions who routinely denigrated, humiliated and verbally abused their subordinates. Naturally, this type of attitude spilled down onto the kids.

People (especially kids) are more likely to remember the injustices perpetrated on them than the more positive interactions with people in authority over them. People with a particular axe to grind are naturally going to be more outspoken as well.

Since March, allegations of abuse and neglect have skyrocketted. Yet, even with the addition of the OIG to the investigative mix, the confirmation rate has dropped to about 1 percent. I haven't crunched the numbers, but I think that the total number of confirmations has actually dropped as well.

Emily, you might want to ask these kids if any of them would be willing to take a polygraph administered by an independent polygrapher. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Pope's putting the pressure on not to confirm allegations.

Anonymous said...

The increase in allegations received since March is no surprise given all the toll-free numbers and posters encouraging anybody and everybody to make reports. I'm sure this garnered a few more legitimate reports but it also clearly produced a lot of bogus allegations from attention-seekers. The real concern is a significant drop in the confirmation rate. When I left TYC, there seemed to be total confusion in the process of assigning, tracking and closing investigations between the TYC IGs and the TDCJ (now also TYC) IGs. Local and most CO administrators had simply quit hearing about the results of investigations and of course the regular review meetings to examine allegations, investigation results and corrective action ended as soon as the Kimbrough/TDCJ crowd arrived. I have little doubt that the reduction in confirmations is in part a result of ongoing mismanagement. However, I also expect that Ms. Pope and Company will try to use these statistics some day to show what a fine job they have done making TYC facilities safer...Anyone who can say TYC facilities have been meeting 1:12 ratios at anytime this past year obviously knows creative accounting...
>Don Brantley

Old Vet. said...

Don, you should know how TYC does its creative accounting! They count people on campus and not on dorms. Our Vi's get on the count while they walk around campus or are in meetings. Caseworkers are part of the count when in their offices. This how they get away with creative accounting. They have been doing this since I began in the 90's.

Anonymous said...

Old Vet, I am familiar with that issue! Correcting it was one of my primary goals when I came to Austin and one reason we asked for so many new JCO positions last session. Of course asking, getting and filling are different things...
>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

ygWe got the word today that CO is graciously (say with sarcasm please) allowing employees to wear pants other than black (no jeans from what I understand) while they consider other uniform options. OH NO! What will they come up with next? Anybody know anything about this?

Anonymous said...

I am sure you read the memo by now. But you can wear what ever you want in pants and shoes. You still have to wear that god awful shirt. To much more with these uniforms and more and more are going to be filling out exit papers. It needs to go away and spend the damn money on the kids to make the place better and safer for staff and kids. Stop wasting money on some damn uniforms that are not helping no one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Don,
Call me some time, please. I'm still in the phone book. VG gave me your e-mail address before they left for NC, but it bounced. JC

Anonymous said...

Ah the new memo: apparently Central Office was afraid people in the field were coming to work half naked. Now we are being told we are expected to wear pants...guess I will have to put up those sequined G strings and silkscreend thongs.

flicka said...

Memo just put out by CO:

All staff starting 01/01/2008 will have the following dress code while on duty in all State School Facilities. Please abide by this current dress code to ensure uniformity:

1. White oversized shirt with red purple and green fringe around collar and cuffs, bright red buttons.

2. Red oversized baggy pants with white ruffles on bottom cuffs of pants.

3. Purple converse basket ball shoes at least size 14, no small sizes allowed.

4. You may wear face pant but please ensure that all nose pieces are RED and squeezable, sounds are of your choice.

5. There will be no if's and's or Butt's to this policy. All staff must have these items NLT 01/05/2008. If not you not recieve your personal set of noise makers and balloons

All Central office staff will continue with the present policy and dress code established by Ms. Pope. Men will be in dragg as usual and women will continue to wear black stilettoes leather pants and white cotton halter's. If it becomes to cold all ladies must ensure their headlights are off become entering Central Office.

People we are on our why to change TYC and we are moving ahead. One priority down 2,865,954.000 to go.

Anonymous said...

one addition to that dress code. Bright ruby red lipstick.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that acrylic nails for women must be at least 6 inches long. Nails shorter than 6 inches will result in disciplinary action.

Anonymous said...

With all of these fine stories of abuse and terror has any Law Enforcement Officer ever arrested a Youth for making a False Statement??????? Come on now in Brownwood at the begining of the scandal our local police stated they would also arrest Youth who file false reports Hmmmm wow have they all gone back to the Old Days ???? No one is following anything that was said at the start of all of this stuff as well as where is the required Police that is supposed to be on every Campus??? Man our local elected official who spoke on the Radio never came up to the Campus to see what He voted for ??? How about it Troy Frasier are you thinking the State Employees wont Vote for you??? You know if they wanted change they should have done what they said they would do and they havent as of yet TYC is worse for what they have done to the Agency !!!!!!!! It seems that the Brownwood Rep. Mr Frasier could care less about TYC and thats sad due to most of the Staff voting for Him.. I bet this election may be a little different as many Satff have friends and they have friends so lets see who votes for that Looser....

Anonymous said...

There have been many times that the OIG cops have wanted to prosecute youth for making false statements. So far, they have been stymied by the top brass. In one case the outside investigators wanted to bring up a youth who made numerous false charges, and Kimbrough himself nixed that. This kid is now one of Emily's poster boys.

Former Marlin Employee said...

As a former Marlin employee I can say the 55/5 practice was used when I first started in 97, but the practice was terminated in 98 or 99 somewhere around there. I don't believe it was a "policy" but something that a staff used to try to gain control of their dorm and it eventually was being used by all the dorms. After the staff were told not to do it anymore, I don't recall seeing it used.

As for the running laps, I did see that practice for dorms that were out of control and taken to the security recreation yard for their recreation time. I don't ever recall seeing youth handcuffed and left in the baking sun as this youth has claimed. Nor did I see youth "falling out, throwing up, scraped up, crying or bleeding" as he claimed from running and exercising. The youth were running laps and doing exercises which was required as part of their recreation time. Even the youth in the gym were running laps and doing exercises no different then the youth in the security recreation yard. The youth in the security recreation yard were just pissed because they didn't get to play basketball during their recreation time, hmmmmm, they were being punished for not following the rules and they want to hollar it's abuse???

When I first started working for TYC I was not fearful for my safety as the youth were referred to security for rule infractions. This was effective to get the "unruly" youth away from the ones that were working the program. In security, they were made to do bunk skills and exercises. Then someone came along and said “We can’t do that, it’s cruel and unusual punishment” and that was changed so that any youth that were sent to security could sit down, read a book, and sleep... hmmmmm.. what a choice. Stay on the dorm, work the program and go to school, or go to security and sit or sleep? Hell as an adult I know which choice I would make.

When I first started working at TYC, a threat of a security referral would straighten the attitude of the youth because they did not want to go there. After the changes, I would say to a youth if he/she did not straighten out their behavior I would have to send them to security, they would look at me and say "F--K you, send me to security, at least there I don't have to do this s--t". Security referrals went to the roof as a result of this "change" because of course we would not want to punish a youth for breaking the rules.

After 5 years, I can honestly say I did not feel safe working directly with the youth and moved into the office for a few more years. During that time, I saw more and more staff getting injured due to the youth fighting them during restraints. In my opinion, by this point the youth knew if the staff put their hands on them, they were subjected to immediate investigation. Gosh what an easy way to get a officer who is trying to enforce the rules off your dorm but to fight them. Force them to do a restraint (for their safety and the safety of the other youth on the dorm), someone gets hurt (staff or youth), they go under investigation, given "alternative" work assignments or better yet, suspended from their job and eventually terminated (more so then returning to work). I seen this time and time again. The officer is sweating whether he/she has a job to support their families and the youth is laughing to his/her buddies on the dorm getting their buddies to "confirm" their story that "they weren't doing anything wrong". What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

All this is going on and the biggest concern of administration was what the dress code is??? I think administration, from Central Office on down need to get their priorities straight and focus on staff safety and staff retention. Because as I see it, many excellent staff are quitting because they are tired of little or no consequences for bad behavior of youth, long work hours, short staffing, staff abusing the sick and medical leaves and having absolutely no back up from local Administrators.

Anonymous said...

To Former Marlin Employee:

You have described the situation at Marlin very well. As at Marlin and the other state schools. Once the discipline was taken away along with consequences for that poor behavior the youth had no reason to behave properly. There were always those youth that would work the program no matter what and do the best they could. However, they had to suffered for others poor behavior and then they felt discouraged and many of them then decided to give up also.

As in life TYC needs a system of rewards for good performance. This must be adopted. As in life a system of discipline and correction must be adopted for those that are unable to follow rules. Distinctions base on classification must be used to ensure youth are placed appropriately among other youth with the same classification. This is just an example. This would be determined by an individual scoring concept rather than a criminal charge concept.

TYC had what some called a rewards system with the Phase Concept. Unfortunately many youth could not read or write or were not good at either but fell behind. The Phase Concept was to frustrating for to many youth. With this frustration and the other insanity of mis-management together with a broken down psycho/social program developed by nutcase psychologist's, TYC was doomed from the start.

TYC needs correction professionals to develop a classification system. TYC then needs to develop a corresponding security classication for the individual youth. Howard Hickman disagrees but he does not explain why or provide any ideas.

This system would be different than any TYC has considered or had the ability to develop simply because TYC had to many psychologist's involved in the rehabilitation and correctional processes. They need to be used for counseling, education and provide youth an understanding of developing needed social skills. This idea of resocialization needs to be reduce to a departmental that the attends rather than is forced on them.

All this uncooperative blogging is screwed up people. Some great points have been brought out, some idealistic points without suggesting a solution have also been written.

Why don't we use this form to provide viable solutions and ideas to help the agency and these kids. We must also admit some kids we can't save, but most we can if we develope a program that provides new real measurable progression awards that youth can use for their future, no rubber stamp BS. In the same contexted those that cannot figuare it out as quickly will continue to face negative uncomfortable consequences, not abuse. Manual type work that they can work themselves out from and progress to the meaningful and measurable awards. Personal Discipline is the KEY. This is just a very simple example for the ideas we need to send these so-called administrators in Central Office. Since they are the choosen ones, we need to throw them a few bones with our ideas and experiences. Let them figuare it out.

Former Marlin Employee said...

All I can say is why can't the system go back to what worked? Momma always said don't fix something that ain't broke. 10 years ago, if a youth was disruptive they were consequenced by a security referral and made to work (bunk skills, exercises, etc). I never saw a youth "abused" by this policy, although of course the youth would disagree.

If the majority of the dorm was being disruptive, then yes the entire dorm would have to suffer the consequences mainly due to staffing issues and not having enough room in security to send all the disruptive ones. I used to tell my kids when they would complain how unfair it was that really it’s the same in the free. They would ask me what I was talking about and I would explain to them how if they steal cars, insurance rates go up which means everyone else is suffering for their bad behavior. If they steal from houses or stores, homeowners insurance rates rise and stores raise prices to cover the losses. When it was put in that context, believe it or not, they said “oh man I never looked at it like that”. Of course they wouldn’t because they have yet to experience the wonderful life of paying bills and supporting a family. Truly after that, I didn’t have a lot of problems with most of the youth, of course there is that exception youth that just didn’t give a crap and those chosen few could go to security and work out their frustration on bunks skills and exercising.

I totally agree with 10:17 in that correction professionals need to be the ones that develop the policies and fix this broken agency. Nothing against psychologists or psychiatrists but seems when they took over is when everything went to pot.

I have a 14 year old and when he breaks the rules he is consequenced. Am I being abusive because I made him do things he don’t like to do? I think not, but believe me, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice simply because he didn’t like the consequences. It’s all in changing the mindset of these kids. Most of them have gotten away with way too much for way too long.

Make the youth accountable for their actions, good and bad, and the rehabilitation will take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

10:17,

I suggest you reread my comments on the subject. The main point is that a new classification system is a waste of money when one does not have the specialized treatment programs necessary to place those subclassified youth in. If such existed or were likely to exist in the foreseeable future, then the cost of a new classification system
would be justifiable. I think at present it is more preferable to spend the money on JCO overtime.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Amen to Howard for his comment on paying JCO overtime. These staff are overworked for what, time on the books which they cannot take off because they are understaffed. When they ask for a day off, they are continually denied. Which brings up another subject I have seen in these blogs, staff abusing the sick and medical leave policies. Hell it's the only way they can get a day off.

Pay them for the Holidays they have to work instead of putting time on the books which they cannot take, again due to understaffing.

I truly believe that the staff care about their jobs and the youth that they are entrusted to, but even the best have a breaking point. Give them what is due to them for doing a job that alot of people wouldn't even look at. Either pay them for the overtime or give them the time off when they request it.

Howard, I worked at Marlin for sometime and talked to you many times. You were always respectful, understanding and helped me when you could have said "it's not my job". My hat is tipped to you buddy!!

TYC's Savior said...

Howard, the new classification system will allow for the new treatment based individual classification. Subclassified is a misnomer. Classification is the KEY. Money requirments are part of any new structuring. The main goal is to classify. Treatment follows. I can develope a system that is so precise geared towards individual treatment goals that TYC would be astonished as to the simplicity of the treatment projections for those in each security and custody classification. TYC must get away from the approach of group therapy based on skills that are no longer appropriate in their past structure. WE must develope scales for facilities in terms of classification, i.e., minimum, low, medium and high. No offense Howard but your way to late and a few dollars to short in justifying Criminal Justice policy and objectives. Your part of the old thinking that infected this agency. Howard you just need to move on and leave this to those that can understand the processes required in the field of juvenile justice. No Offense of course!

Kick-butt said...

2:17PM

You sound like your motivated by cash money. The money will come. The staff stress will lessen. The pay raises will be annually met. Get your head out of the idea that one person will change TYC pay for JCO's.

The entire system will benefit with lead by non-suck-ass managers. The pay will be there for those JCO's that can adapt to the quality of standards required to make this agency work. If you want supportive leadership, that ensures JCO staff are well paid and can deliver quality services in an environment that in the passed was based on corruption, politics and who's your buddy, then Howards your man.

We need new ideas, leaders that have the conceptual mentality to develope those ideas, and use the ideas of quality JCO staff to make positive changes. The money is there. TYC needs a leader that will stand-up for staff as well as the kids. A person that can be able to dismiss the political BS in Austin for the good of the agency. Politicians are assholes. They ruin everything. We need a person that will stand up for what's right, viable and shove the BS right up the rear end of the politicans that ruined our agency. PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

2:31,

You need to learn something about budgeting and the appropriation process. I am basing my opinion on budgetary reality, not the dreams of future money. To do what you propose requires large sums of money that do not exist. There are otherpractical restrictions like the limitations on sex offender treatment licensees. They do not exist in numbers or locations to meet juvenile treatment needs and will not as long as a licensed juvenile psychiatrist or psychologist can not provide sex offender treatment without being licensed by the Council on Sex Offender Treatment Providers.

There is a big difference between what I believe should be provided in juvenile treatment and what can be done with existing limitations, particularly budgetary, on a pragmatic basis. I have not discussed my treatment preferences but only commented on reality. I do not like the reality probably any more than you do but I am reasonable enough to recognize the limitations. What you think can be done can not be done without additional legislative action which is more than a year down the line. You need to see the now, not some possible future. Wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new classification scheme just makes it harder to solve other more pressing TYC problems. TYC is not on Santa's list and he is not going to provide what you or I want in treatment for the forseeable future.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

2:48,

In what way am I corrupt. I also am not a politician and have for decades refused to put up with the requisite pandering that classification entails. I also have never based a business decision on who is my buddy. Your prejudice toward me is misdirected if that is your basis of attacking me.

Howard A. Hickman

smokin said...

Howard you are obviousily unstable. No one is attacking you. You are not in tune with what is required for future success in TYC. Stop answering in the defensive. I have over 17 years in Criminal Justice developing programs and consultation at both the federal and state juvenile levels. Mr. Hickman you have all the intentions of wanting to project a positive approach to the success of TYC. However, you are to ingrained in self preservation rather than what is needed to project continued success bringing the agency back to national recognition. Review federal juvenile justice directives.
Understand federal standards in juvenile corrections. Forget what you have done in the past for TYC. Your contributions no longer are required as new progressive approcahes are needed to turn this around.

Bring it on said...

I have a question for Mr. Hickman:

Who was your supervisor at CO?

Who told you what your duties were to the agency?

How many times did you project a response to an employee directed from CO.

How many times did you refuse to answer an employee question the way it should have been answered rather what you were told to answer.

Who were your loyalties directed to.

How many time were you given responses to staff rather than being able to use your own words?

If you were worth a damm as an attorney why work for TYC?

Be honest. Many of these questions have already been determined.

Anonymous said...

3:52, your grandiousity is incredible.

Smokin incompetent A-- said...

Yes 4:11PM, I am not only confident I am increditable as you say. I am confident that what this agency needs is more professionals like me rather than politicians such as yourself. Give a solution or shut the hell up!!!

Anonymous said...

"Be honest. Many of these questions have already been determined."

Determined? By who? By you, that doesn't mean much!

Howard is no paragon of virtue. He has made decisions that I have not always agreed with and at times his bluntness could be grating but he always gave a well considered straight forthright answer. I respect it even if I don't always appreciate it!

Just because he made a judgment that you don't agree with doesn't mean he is corrupt or inept.

Whatever your beef with Howard is step up, identify yourself, and make a point otherwise stop blowing hot air.

My two cents!

Anonymous said...

In answer to the questions:

Who was your supervisor at CO?
Neil Nichols/Emily Helm

Who told you what your duties were to the agency?
My duties were defined in my job description

How many times did you project a response to an employee directed from CO.

I never was directed by anyone in CO to give a specific answer to any question. Thousands of times I answered questions based on the law and TYC policy.

How many times did you refuse to answer an employee question the way it should have been answered rather what you were told to answer.

See previous answer, I always answered questions the way they should have been answered.

Who were your loyalties directed to.

My loyalties have always been governed by my oath of office - to the Constitution and the laws of the State of Texas. I have always represented the best interests of my client, TYC.

How many time were you given responses to staff rather than being able to use your own words?

Never

If you were worth a damm as an attorney why work for TYC?

I was tired of the grind required to make $200,000 + a year. I though it would be fun to be a judge(hearings examiner) and needed a few years to qualify for state retirement anyway. After I was there, I just liked working with the people there.

4:57, Thanks. For the record, I am not a paragon of virtue and have never claimed to be.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

That's Howard! Like the other poster, I did not always like the answers he gave, but I never had any doubt about his sincerity. As for Neil and Emily - those were two highly dedicated and honorable people who got the shaft. They were nothing like this egotistical nudnik who is posting here as the "savior" of TYC.

Howard does not need to post here to justify himself. I think he does it for the same reason Don Brantley does it. He still cares! Both of them have moved on, but both of them have a continuing interest in the success of TYC in saving the lives of these kids who have been entrusted to our care. Bravo for them!

I personally miss the days when we could openly debate issues within TYC. None of us felt we had all the answers, but many of us were (and are) passionate with our desire for TYC to do a better job. I did not have to hide behind an anonymous posting on the internet for fear of losing my job. I could and did tell everyone from the Executive Director on down my opinion. They actually sought out the opinions of people in the trenches! Imagine that! Old Salty

Anonymous said...

55-5 running laps till you fall out, tyc sure has gotten lame over the years. I would rather run laps then be handcuffed to the wall and beaten. What ever happened to Positive Peer Culture. That was great, in theory, to keep a dorm in check. The way it was implemented by the dumb ass red neck social workers was if a state boy was messing up the dorm man would go out for a smoke while having "his boys" culture the problem state boy with the thought that possessiveness would result. The only place I know of where child abuse is the accepted norm is in tyc. 100 plus years of abusing children and still going strong, what an institution. Sheldon Schepps tyc#47333