Saturday, May 10, 2008

What were the terms of TYC's settlement with the US Justice Department over the Evins unit?

The Texas Youth Commission and the US Justice Department entered into a settlement this week over allegations of abuse at the Evins unit in South Texas, but the MSM coverage was pretty vague and I haven't had time until this morning to review the Agreed Order itself (which Jim Hurley graciously emailed me upon request - it's not online).

Here are some highlights:

New Use of Force Rules: Under the previous executive director, use of force rules were revised near constantly, adding and removing pepper spray to the continuum and changing rules on manual restraints until nobody really knew what was going on. The new conservator backed off TYC's more frequent pepper spray use, but it's still not been clear what policies actually govern staff on the front lines. Under the settlement, within 60 days, "the State shall develop and implement policies, procedures and practices to reasonably ensure that only safe methods of restraint are used at Evins, and only in those circumstances necessary for safety and security, and that restraints are never used to punish youth." Senior TYC management must review all incidents involving manual restraint, inappropriate staff-youth relationships, and youth on youth sexual relations.

More Consistent Abuse Reporting: TYC must change its definitions of "use of force," "staff on youth assault," "youth on youth assault," and "inappropriate staff relationships with youth" to comply with DOJ's own terminology and make incident reporting more accurate. DOJ must sign off on the new definitions before they're finalized. You can't tell from the Agreed Order what exactly was deficient in TYC's old definitions, or how the changes might affect overall abuse reporting data. (If somebody knows more details, please let us know in the comments.) The order also requires UTMB medical providers to complete incident reports and report to the Office of Inspector General whenever they suspect staff on youth abuse.

Use of Solitary Confinement Reviewed: The Agreed Order declares that "the State shall develop and implement an evidence-based behavior management program," which at TYC is the euphemism for solitary confinement. Ombudsman Will Harrell has been harping on the overuse and misuse of BMP for many months now, so it's little surprise this is one of the areas requiring remediation.

Revamping Youth Classification, Again: After TYC was criticized last year for hiring a politically connected consultant to redesign its classification system, the Agreed Order will require them to go through the process again. Within 90 days TYC must produce "a classification system that considers factors including youth age, committing offense, gang affiliation, delinquent history and treatment needs to reasonably ensure that youth are safely placed within Evins, and provides for reclassification in appropriate circumstances."

Training: Within 180 days all staff at Evins must be re-trained in approved restraint techniques, de-escalation and crisis prevention, and incident reporting.

Monitoring: DOJ "monitoring shall include, on-site inspections of Evins, interviews with Evins youth, staff and administrators, and a review of relevant documents. The DOJ shall retain a juvenile justice consultant" to assist in overseeing the Agreed order, and will "routinely" report to the court on the progress fulfilling the order. The order doesn't say how often is "routinely," but these reports to the court should tell the tale as far as whether Evins is improving in the covered areas. To "the extent that the DOJ's assessment is that the State is not in compliance with any particular paragraph(s) of the Agreed Order, the DOJ's report shall include the specific factual basis for this assessment and technical assistance recommendations to assist the State in achieving compliance with such paragraphs."

As with many of the reform efforts in the past year, it can be difficult to distinguish at TYC between nice words, which are common, and real change, which has been much harder to come by. The Agreed Order contains many nice words, but only time will tell how much impact this settlement really has.

See related coverage from AP and the McAllen Monitor.

Thanks to the commenter who supplied this link to the Agreed Order (pdf).

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

A copy of the settlement agreement is available on the USDOJ website:
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/documents/evins_order_08.pdf.

Anonymous said...

Beyond just hoping that or wondering if things can or will work out for this institution, does anyone really think these folks down here can make this work out? Honestly, the legislature and the new TYC administration in Austin owe the state of Texas an open, honest and candid evaluation of this place before any more tax money is wasted. Eddie, Nancy and Fela cannot do everything by themselves pretty much like they do now. They're tired as it is and what happens when they retire and or leave for greener pastures? The other stakeholders here, read that JCO and assorted staff, are sometimes invested for the wrong reasons. Easy pay, benefits, FMLA, and long paid vacations etc etc etc does not make you a dedicated employee simply by the virtue of those items or because you state that you are. So far, past actions and the employee history do not make for a sunny forecast. Dig deep Texas or ........

Anonymous said...

I was around and in the bidness when this facility was built and named after Judge Evins. South Texas politics got it built, South Texas politics will keep it open (as is or some other type state facility, not TYC.)

Scanning the exerpts Grits just recorded (not the agreement), nothing there other than what they should be doing anyway.

Plato

Anonymous said...

The stunner for me here was that DOJ is going to maintain direct oversight via a paid consultant.

To my knowledge, that's unprecedented, and comes about as close as anything to the decade or so following the Morales ruling, during which district judge WW Justice supervised TYC.

BB

Anonymous said...

Let's see, you got a washed up Supt. running the place who is well known for playing Tatu to Mr. Robinson back when TYC was also known as Fantasy Island. Not to mention that he was allowed to return to TYC because he was a buddy to some of the TYC upper management. He has alot of political pull at the TYC level, which isn't saying a whole lot, and we expect him to be able to pull off the changes at Evins? Sen. Hinojosa, get ready to clean out the place and and have another vacant building in the valley. Secretly, we all know that's what you want, now you will be able to say the Federalies were the mal hombre. Adios ERJC Amigos.

Anonymous said...

Why not just turn Evins into a Immigration Detention Center?

Anonymous said...

I am a little out of the loop. Who exactly are the Superintendents now? I read here that Eddie Martinez was back at Evins and Mike Davis is at Crockett. I do not know if that is accurate because the TYC webpage does not keep the executive posted any more.

I will agree that this sounds like the return of Judge Justice.

Anonymous said...

Pretty insulting to say the JCOs have "easy pay".  Obviously you don't work there...talk about long hours and NO days off.  They have to call in sick to get any rest or go to a parent-teacher conference for their own kids.  What I have seen is that staff that sign up for the "easy pay" last a very short time. I could go on and on, but I won't.  I don't know about eveywhere else, but at Mart I all the kids on BMP and IDP (all segregation programs) have been released back to their dorms.  I agree that all kids should be getting services, and if they aren't it should be fixed pronto, but some of these kids (ok...MOST of these kids) will return to their dorms to assault kids who are trying to get home, assault staff (kids only get on BMP by assaulting staff or other students), and generally turn their dorms into chaotic nightmares, particularly on open bay dorms. It will be impossible to keep all the kids safe from the bullies and psychopaths, and you are about to see a mass exodus of more staff we cannot lose (WHO, I want to know, will be watching the kids?).

Anonymous said...

They better hire a paid consultant and get him/her a place to stay on campus. Otherwise, TYC will do exactly what they want and keep the coverups alive and well.
BTW - The story is the same for both Eddie Martinez and Mike Davis - the only reason they both got their jobs back is because of their connections. MD at Crockett and EM at Evins.

Anonymous said...

Well, the agreed order is full of a nice words with no time limits or firm outlining plans. And NO, we JCOS ARE NOT PAID WELL and the hours are long and its really not the kids - the friggn TYC Austin. All that happened here was a nice promise to pay note - but nothing here at Mart and the units has changed. These kids still suffer, I am sure TYC has settled on ALOT of law suits - how come those are posted Grits for breakfast....I want to know what else they have promised and haven't followed thru on and then I can prove they, TYC and DOJ are full of bullshit.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the court order only directly applies to the Evans Unit. Could TYC close Evans on be out from under the control of the court?

Grits wrote, “As with many of the reform efforts in the past year, it can be difficult to distinguish at TYC between nice words, which are common, and real change, which has been much harder to come by. The Agreed Order contains many nice words, but only time will tell how much impact this settlement really has.” I agree fully having helped put on dog and pony shows for TYC for many years. TYC is all about perception and deception. Nothing has changed at TYC regarding how they lie to outsiders. A current example is the Giddings spin doctor report which sounded reasonable unless you had prior knowledge of TYC operation.

Putting the violent, sociopathic kids back in general population is a real disservice to the TYC youth who might have a shot at turning their lives around. How can you put a youth in general population you know is violent and assaultive and not be guilty of child abuse considering you have a reasonable basis to believe they will assault another youth. In fact I think the term is Child Endangerment and is a serious crime. Just when you think TYC cannot get any worse they show you it can. Who in their right mind would want to work for TYC? I would view going to work for TYC in an administrative position a kiss of death for ones career.

TYC must be Texas’ economic stimulus package since it puts a ton of bucks in the economy with nothing to show for it. The wife and I plan to use our Stimulus money to help pay our property taxes so TYC can have plenty of money to waste. Also I feel good every time I pay state sales tax knowing I am supporting the abuse of some kid in TYC trying to change his life. Let us not forget our Federal tax dollars given to TYC. Oh well this is Texas and this is how we roll! In the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as Stupid does”!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:11. However he said that administrative positions were the kiss of death for one's carreer. That is probably true, but TYC has tripled administration over the last year, while the JCO numbers have continued to diminish. Regional managers are flying all over the state. Administrative assistants, what we used to call secretaries, in CO are making higher salaries that managers in the field. They have killed the goose that was laying golden eggs, and when the gold is gone, they'll all move on to other positions as did Ms. Pope. But 5:11 pointed out the real problem. "This is Texas and this is how we roll." I think it's about time we do like California and have a tax revolt. TYC is just a small example of the waste our present legilasture is involved in.

Anonymous said...

Evins has had ongoing problems forever and a day. They are consistent daily problems and it has not been shutdown. WTSS had one big incident (by two administrators, no less) and Whitmire wanted it shutdown. Politics is alive and well in the valley.

dirty harry said...

What does TYC care about federal laws? They have been violating state and federal special ed laws since the first time I ever walked into a unit. Violating special ed laws usually equate to a violation of federal civil rights laws. The inspector generals office at Al Price thinks those laws are "just a matter of paperwork" and is totally unconcerned about them. Not to mention, that falsifying education (governmental) records according to Texas Penal Code doesn't seem to ring a bell with them, either. The Dallas County DA doesn't seem to agree, as they are currently prosecuting school district personnel for cheating on TAKS tests, and violating special ed laws.

Anonymous said...

I never heard Eddie say to Steve, "Boss, Boss, da plane." Guess that does not mean that he did not play that role though.

Anonymous said...

Having read the order, most of what is required is already in TYC policy, it is just that it has not been followed in the past, much more so since the TYC "reforms" took place.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

6:48 raises an interesting point. Does the DOJ order apply to the facility or to the kids in it?

If TYC replaced Evins with, say, 3 smaller facilities, would DOJ continue to monitor them directly?

My guess would be "yes." My sense is that DOJ monitor will function in many respects like an extra Ombudsman, but with a more specific focus and a somewhat different mandate.

Should reiterate that this seems unprecedented for DOJ to maintain a direct and extended presence this way in TYC. In the immediate aftermath of the final 1974 Morales ruling, the court installed an Ombudsman but his work was short-lived; by 1979 both of the worst facilities closed down.

During the 80s, to my knowledge, TYC basically operated without day-to-day oversight but with a set of goals for ending the court's supervision. TYC reported on three separate occasions to the court on its improvements, and reached a final settlement with the plaintiffs in 1988.

At that time, according to Judge Justice's biographer among others, TYC was regarded as an example of successful court-induced reform.

So it's instructive to think about that as we attempt to make sense of DOJ's recent actions, which target not TYC as a whole but one specific facility.

Bill B.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Howard, I agree the demands on TYC in the settlement are unremarkable and basically tells them to behave like they were supposed to anyway.

And Bill B brings up a key question, if this will just apply to Evins? Many of the policies to be reviewed - use of force, solitary confinement, etc. - are issues systemwide, so I'd hope any Evins-specific changes would be implemented elsewhere, too. But the settlement doesn't require that by its plain language.

The reporting to the court will be a good source for journalists and historians like Bill, but who knows how frequently is "routinely," which when they're supposed to file them.

How effective the settlement is will depend entirely on who they hire as a monitor and how aggressive they are. The settlement language is vague enough to leave the monitor very wide latitude.

Anonymous said...

This is all common since.I forgot some of you have none.

Anonymous said...

And your problem with Mike Davis is?

Anonymous said...

A staff or ex-staff who posts annonymous and throws stones but probably spent or spends the majority of their time on FMLA. I love you cowards who throw names out there but never had the _ _ _ _ s, in your life time to stand up. These posts given you the power you have so long for, because you dont have to post your own name.

Anonymous said...

6:48:

The reason TYC is having problems is because the way the state rolls. In case you didn't notice, TYC's budget was cut in the last legislative session, and the one before that, and the one before that. See the governor in 95 wanted to lock up all these kids so we built all these facilities and implemented a treatment program that requires significant staff effort. But then we built all these facilities in remote areas and started cutting budgets, again and again, and again.

So, in part you are right. The legislature is wasting money on TYC, because they have been unwilling to make the fiscal commitment required to maintain solid staffing patterns, on ALL positions at institutions, halfway houses, and parole.

Hopefully the downsizing and regionalization of TYC will allow for more stable staffing. I think they should raise requirements for new JCO staff to a bachelor's degree and start paying accordingly.

Anonymous said...

OFF TOPIC:

Grits, any word on the negotiations regarding mental health treatment between TYC and UTMB?

Anonymous said...

10:01,

Don't see where you signed your name. Grits must have given you a set too.

Anonymous said...

I dont believe I threw names out there, but I'm sure you missed that one.

Anonymous said...

I know both Eddie and Mike. I respect them both. I was just wondering who was where now and what the situation was in several places. If TYC is rehiring old Supes, why haven't they drug Marian Deans back in, or Don Freeman? Not that either of them were particularly popular with the line staff, but they could also be considered "washed-out".

Is Chuck Jones still down at Al Price?

Anonymous said...

I believe we are looking at two seperate issues, Both Martinez and Davis were never washed out that I am aware of but raher both were doing their jobs and the TDCJ transplants (Hunmphrey, Pope) were attempting to rid the agency of these Superintendents. If the TDCJ regime would have lasted longer Walters, Stroud, Cox, and Berry would have been other TYC staff shown the door.In regards to Freeman and Deans I was under the impression they were let go based upon disciplinary issues and one was let go prior to the TDCJ people coming on board. But why does this really even matter, the real issue was never this but rather the staff promoted under the TDCJ regime and were they actually qualified, only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

What happened to common sense, reason, and critical thinking? That is the problem.

Anonymous said...

10:02,

On the budget, you should note that the TYC budget was not cut for the current biennium but actually increased, even if you delete the costs of the new facility that was authorized.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

So why do you think it was increased? More friends to bring in to high paying jobs that sit around and do nothing? Remodeling of the new ED and Conservators offices again? Oh, someone, do tell.

Anonymous said...

You can count the wasted dollars on the hall monitor they installed at Evins. She was lousy as a parole supervisor and laughable as a region director. What a waste. She can barely (and I do mean barely) read and write in English. She is the epitomy of political appointments because she caddies for Chewy one a year. Once DOJ has a dose of her, Texas should and will rue the day they put her in that spot. Valley Politics! Viva La Raza!

Anonymous said...

I thought I recalled reading that the budget was 98 percent of the previous session. I know i have seen something like that a couple of times.

Anonymous said...

Howard,

According to the LBB's testimony at the most recent round of hearings, TYC's budget for this biennium had a reduction in general revenue monies. Any extra money was in bond funding, which included funding for renovation of the facilities (privacy screens) as well as construction of a new facility near a metro area.

Anonymous said...

Increased Cost Of Alternative Education Questioned

Superintendents from the eight Smith County school districts voiced concerns to judges Monday about the increased cost of sending student offenders to the county's Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program - a price the school administrators say they can't afford.


The superintendents gave a presentation to the Smith County Juvenile Board, complaining that they can't pay the $203 per day per student fee to send disruptive students who should be placed there, so the delinquents are instead sitting in class with regular students.


The county implemented the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) in 1996, after the state Legislature mandated it for students removed from classes because of criminal conduct.

Anonymous said...

Do school administrators have to be certified in TYC schools just like they are in public education?

Or, does TYC just not keep track of who is certified and who isn't?

I am talking about principals and assistant principals.

What is the exception to the rule as it applies TYC schools?

Anonymous said...

11:23,

If the LBB said that there was less General Revenue monies this biennium, they were wrong. There was $425 million last biennium and $450 million this bienium. The error by LBB might explain where the TxDOT accountant who added $1 billion plus $2 billion and got $4 billion went. Somebody over there needs to read the current and last biennium's appropriations bills.

Howard A. Hickman

dirty harry said...

5/12/2008 07:43:00 AM wrote:
"Is Chuck Jones still down at Al Price?"

Berry is the temporary super at Al Price.


5/13/2008 03:32:00 PM wrote:
"Do school administrators have to be certified in TYC schools just like they are in public education?"

To my knowledge, it is a requirement for the job postings. However, one of the recent applicants for principal at Al Price was heard to say that during his interview, he wasn't asked any questions relating to education. They hired someone named Charles Wood to fill the slot. Word has it that he spent the last several years working in real estate. Some research shows that there is a Charles Wood listed on the Texas Teacher Certification website as having a mid-management certificate.

Anonymous said...

dirty harry,
You said,"Berry is the temporary super at Al Price."

That would be Jeff Berry?

Does it mean anything that so many of Lydia Barnard's inner circle still control things at TYC?

Anonymous said...

For 5/13/2008 03:32:00 PM and 5/14/2008 06:56:00 AM
About Expired Certificates

Anonymous said...

Where is Mr Crenshaw and Mr Buckner. Those guys knew how to manage a school under DOJ supervission.
Sheldon TYC#47333

Anonymous said...

Teacher certifications are required as a result of TYC job descriptions. The Education Code requirements for teacher certifications do not apply to TYC; however, the requirements for "highly qualified" teachers under the Federal Special Ed and No Child Left Behind Acts do apply as long as TYC takes Federal money.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Howard , please explain your answer on teacher certification? You must be certified to teach in TYC unless your hired on a emergency permit since your in school and only lack some classes. You must be highly qualified to teach out of your field.
TYC will go by TEA rules and Guidelines as long as they Benefit TYC, if they don't Benefit TYC then teachers will be told, we don't follow TEA rules. The same applies to principals and asst.principals with mid management degrees.
If I am not correct then TYC has been blowing smoke up my dress for all these years.

Anonymous said...

1:42 - Absolutely. The more things change the more they stay the same.

To answer an earlier post - my problem with Mike Davis, is that he is a yes-man.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Berry was never one of Lydia's "inner circle." Mike Davis a "yes" man? Get real! You people need to stop all the calumny. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

I guess "yes men" recieve bomb threats and are almost terminated.
Once again the people on this blog amaze me with your ignorance and back-biting. I do wish a requirement was made about having to post your names when mentioning staffs names on this blog, then maybe we could focus on the issues rather than the cowards.

Anonymous said...

"Yes man" I know both Berry and Davis and would have to state your assessment of both men must come from something other than knowledge of either.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see Mr. Walters taking up for both of his lapdogs. Berry is a suck up to Walters, who was in Lydia's "inner circle", so it is still one big incestual pile of crap in TYC. Old Salty, AKA Jack Chase, do your job for once and quit sucking up. Mike Davis will do anything to promote, including being a yes man, stabbing his supervisor in the back, turning on colleagues that helped him in the past, etc. 10:11, you post your name and I will post mine, otherwise, get out from under Mike's desk and go back to work.

Anonymous said...

You said a mouth full 11:04. Pardon the pun. Chip's a real piece of work and he'll do anything, repeat anything. Talk about a cowboy! He's loaded pistol waiting to pop off, including stabbing people in the back. Along with Stan the man, just call me Mr. D, TYC has the remaining Big Daddy lackeys running the henhouse. The new TYC admin just does not really know who their middle managers really are. Wait til the big light really gets turned on.

Anonymous said...

6:46,

Read Chapter 1 of the Texas Education Code. You will find TYC is exempted from most of it, including teacher certification. However to receive federal monies under IDEA and NCLB, TYC must employ highly qualified teachers and teachers aides. Requiring teacher certifications in the job descriptions is part of meeting the federal standard. It is not part of meeting a TEA imposed standard because TEA standards are not mandatory for TYC.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

4:11pm you sound like another back-stabber who most likely was demoted for incompetence. You most likely climbed the ladder way to fast under past regimes and when they were escorted out the door, you soon followed.

Try not to be so angry, it's really not your fault that Humpster and Pope were unable to choose qualified applicants last year. You just happened to be floating at the top of the bowl, it happens.

Rest assured your probably still in a position your not qualified for, but this soon will end.

Victorious said...

Hi "Dirty Harry",
They have had so many changes at the Al Price unit within just one year, it will literally make your head spin. About a year ago Austin supposedly had came down to Beaumont and so called "cleaned house". I beg to differ!!! How can you clean house and just demote the asst. supt. Stephone Coward to one level below what he was, and then send him to another unit?

Now as far as Kim Fowler, the former supt.(aka "big groceries")she currently works for Catholic Charities in Beaumont and is in charge of the Child Care Contractor Services. I heard she is currently looking for an assistant. You might want to check that out Misty Long since you kissed her ASS so much while you were there.
I want to know is where are the indictments for those three people? They sure were quick to have the Texas Rangers come down and investigate the wrong people.

Currently they are spending millions of dollars more by gutting all of these dorms and making them like cell block dorms. This is one of the newest facilities too, I think it's like 12 or 13 years old. That's crazy!! But we can't get a penny raise?? OOHHH I'm so glad I left TYC and thank GOD everyday for getting me out of there. Man that place is destined for doom!!! AMEN

Anonymous said...

Thanks Howard for your response.Like I said, TYC only uses the TEA regs when it fits their purpose. That is what is sad about it for teachers. If it is a situation that it is in the best interest of the teacher they choose not to follow those TEA rules.
But what else can you expect.

Anonymous said...

Any UTMB news?

Anonymous said...

9:02 you sound like a suck up to the Chipster. He's in the same league as Bronco Billy. BTW, did you type all of your post in one breath? You're probably a stupid JCO V.

Anonymous said...

9:05 pm

I agree with you how can they claim to have cleaned house the people that were let go did nothing wrong they were following directives from CO, this was just a personal attack on Al Price by Billy Humphrey to get his people in place. I hope you get your facts straight before you assume. Al Price had some problems as do all the facilites ex. youth getting on the roofs, youth rioting and covergae issues. You shouldn't call names it shows that you are obviously disgruntle. The facility went through alot after the hurricane and was getting on track, we got a new supt. who was doing a good job with the support of the asst. Yes we had problems, but what facility doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I guess you were one of the "Qualified" staff floating at the top of the bowl?

I have no issue with Walters or any other staff, I just believe it is an act of cowardice to throw names out on the blog because you have an issue with that person.

I will not resort to throwing names out on the blog and wish you too would abide by this wish.

If you feel so strongly about a person or persons working for TYC please call them up and explain your frustrations, it will save you the $125 an hour your currently paying your counselor and could so rewarding for you in the future.

Anonymous said...

10:01am who are you referring too as a good Supt. after the hurricane and getting back on your feet??

Anonymous said...

10:02,

Does the concept that TEA is a co-equal state agency to TYC occur to you? Why would not TEA have to follow TYC rules? There is no legal reason that TYC has to follow any TEA rules or vice versa except under circumstances mandated by federal law.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Yes, Stan the man, just call me Mr. D, Big Daddy is still running the TYC henhouse. He is flying high now and still creating a force field to protect all his lackeys. Nothing changes. What a mess!

Anonymous said...

One big incestual pile of crap - that pretty much sums it up.

Anonymous said...

Please show me "ONE" taxpayer supported governmental entity that is not the same.