Thursday, June 12, 2008

ACLU lawsuit challenges strip searches, punitive isolation of girls at TYC Brownwood unit

ACLU's national women's project and the ACLU of Texas filed suit today over use of solitary confinement and strip searching among girls housed at the Brownwood unit, according this press announcement :

a class action lawsuit [filed] today on behalf of five girls – all of whom have histories of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse – held in the Brownwood State School. Brownwood is a “high security” youth prison located in central Texas and operated by the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), the state’s juvenile corrections agency. The ACLU charges that TYC subjects the girls to unwarranted solitary confinement, routine strip searches and brutal physical force.

“Throwing children into cold, bare solitary confinement cells is profoundly damaging, especially to children who previously have been abused," said Mie Lewis, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “The ACLU has closely monitored developments in the Texas Youth Commission over the last year, and although we see some improvements, TYC’s reliance on solitary confinement has to stop.”

The ACLU charges that the treatment the girls have suffered violates their constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well as international standards protecting children from abuse and prohibiting torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

“We are optimistic that we can meet with the defendants soon and come to an amicable solution,” said Lenora Lapidus, Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “It’s in the interests of both the children and TYC to stop these practices.”

Brownwood State School serves as the reception site for all girls committed to TYC custody and nearly all girls in custody in Texas are held there. Brownwood holds approximately 150 girls who have been sent there for offenses ranging from school-related disciplinary infractions to minor property offenses and more serious offenses.

Girls at Brownwood are regularly placed in punitive solitary confinement in oppressively cold, concrete cells, empty except for a metal slab intended to be used as a bed. Solitary confinement is imposed for minor misbehavior, for self-harm or for expressing a desire to commit self-harm. Terms of solitary confinement can be brief or can last for days, weeks and even months.

Upon entering or exiting solitary confinement and on other occasions when they have not left the facility - for example, when they finish a work assignment within the prison - girls are subject to invasive strip searches. When girls resist, guards regularly use physical force, pepper spray, handcuffs and leather straps to force them to comply. These tactics are also used on girls already in solitary confinement in response to self-harm, shouting, and banging on the wall. Girls subjected to this treatment report suffering flashbacks to childhood rapes and feeling degraded, humiliated and afraid.

“The link between psychological trauma and delinquent behavior is well established,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director of the ACLU of Texas. “Instead of helping girls learn to cope with their experiences, TYC is re-traumatizing them through the use of solitary confinement and strip searches. TYC must do better, for the sake of our clients and all children in the state's custody."

Attorneys on the lawsuit, K.C. et. al v. Nedelkoff et. al, include Lewis and Lapidus from the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Graybill from the ACLU of Texas, Steven M. Watt from the ACLU Human Rights Program and Elizabeth Alexander from the ACLU National Prison Project.

The complaint is available online here.

The motion for class certification and memorandum in support of motion for class certification are available online here.

Some of the complaints in the press release echo those set forth by national ACLU's women's rights project in their report last year proposing reforms aimed at girls housed at TYC. A cursory review of the complaint reveals the crux of ACLU's lawsuit appears to oppose "punitive solitary confinement and routine strip searches," particularly for girls housed the Brownwood unit

Perhaps relatedly (?), TYC recently stopped using long-term isolation as part of their "aggression management" program, but ACLU's allegations appear to be aimed at the BMP ("Behavioral Management Program") which is the euphemism used to describe more routine use of solitary confinement on individual campuses.

UPDATE: See initial coverage from the Abilene Reporter News, the Houston Chronicle, AP, and a profile of ACLU's 5 plaintiffs.

105 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should send in CPS - sure sounds like abuse to me. And CPS needs something to do since they had to let the FLDS kids go.

Anonymous said...

It is a correctional institution...not day care. Seaches should be done by female staff (though few seem to care whether women strip search or watch boys showere, double standard). Youth, boys and girls, have been known to have dangerous contraband... can you say "Shank" boys and girls, good I knew you could!

I am against abuse or inappropriate treatment of youth but this is one case I hope the ACLU loses.

Survivalwoman said...

I was subjected to the same kind of treatment as a state kid , same exact. My Offense , I had a constant and reoccurring desire to die (or saying i wish i had died , which qualifies as speaking of self harm or threat of self harm). My Mother had abandoned me , i was separated from my siblings and i was constantly depressed (who hell wouldn't be in that situation). Being depressed i did not qualify for a foster home. No . Children are placed in correctional facilities when there are no other places to put them.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, girls are not being strip searched by male staff, but that's what the ACLU wants you to believe.

JJ said...

I had to do a double take when I read "school-related disciplinary infractions" as one of the reasons why Texas treats it's "children" (It seems to me they are considered children when they have sex, but adults when they misbehave in school or commit a crime in Texas. Great double standard. Sorry, forgot sex is a crime in Texas.) in a way that would have PETA screaming and picketing if they treated animals in the same manner.


Let's not forget what a lovely way to deal with suicidal tendencies. Why not just hand these teens a razor and say, "Have at it. We'll be back after you bleed out."


Is it any wonder Texas has such a high prison population when this is the way they treat human beings? Texas most certainly is "another country". The kind we make war on for their crimes against humanity.

Anonymous said...

Whoa ACLU! These girls are undoubtedly suffering from long term emotion pain and maybe even PTSD. But, that doesn't mean that a few, if not searched, would not hide a shank - and some might use it, given a provocation. Do you want the staff and the other girls to have to face that? What about safety?

There is, however, a lot of merit to what the ACLU is trying to do. In case you missed it, the big story is, here we go again. Once again it is an outside agent that points out what we in TYC should have known and cared about.

What is missing in TYC is a psychology department. We have one, but it is a TYC psychology department. The key figures in this department have been loyal to the TYC way of thinking and doing. It hasn't occurred to many of them to question the practices they saw. What they saw was key figures who wanted above all else to fit in and be accepted by those who were entrusted to make the decisions. That meant, the supers, the asst. supers, the PSs, top JCO and other dept. heads. By being excessively concerned about being "on the team" the psychologists abdicated their responsibility as unique employees. They should have been the ones who took care of this concern - not the ACLU. The sad truth is that in almost every case someone else has had to step up and point out something that we should have faced ourselves. We have seldom faced things at TYC.

What about this TYC psychology department? One clue is to look at the top. Who set the tone all these years? Not many people in TYC have been as stupid as I to bring an ethical concern to Linda Reyes. You've got to give it to her, she was consistent. Instead of giving my concern some consideration, Linda instantly defendedd a super who was "in the loop." She would give that famous icy stare to anyone who would dare question the way things were done. No matter how bad things were in TYC, as far as she was concerned, that was that and no questions would be asked.

Isn't that what this TYC mess is all about - unquestioned loyality to something that deserves none. As Linda set the tone all these years, other members of this department fell in line or else watched their mouth. This is now where we are.

Anonymous said...

Right on, 6:23 p.m. You hit the nail directly on the head.

Anonymous said...

I have said it before and I will say it again.
The people who work with the kid face to face every day, mainly jco staff and teachers, know what to do with thim.
All others are clueless.

Rio Grande
kinsinprison.com

Anonymous said...

I hope ACLU wins!

Isolation is not the answer to safety problems. Texas can and should be forced to provide for the safety and treatment of children in their care.

Doesn't matter if it is CPS or TYC, Texas needs to loose this one and do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Hell you might as well throw Dwight Harris in there next to her. He wasn't any better. And just to think, those two rose to the top, and now look where we are...

Didn't the ACLU hear about the change to the BMP policy - or "Redirect," before they filed a lawsuit? Kids aren't spending "months" in isolation. They haven't been for awhile now. A lot of have been leaving after a week or so - before the new Redirect program came out. So, is ACLU in the "know?" It doesn't seem that way. I guess the only thing left for them to cry about is the strip searching issue, and well, we are a justice agency, and to keep them safe from one another, we have to take security measures seriously. Otherwise, we'll be violating their rights to protection from physical and psychological harm. And I agree with the comment above, male staff aren't strip seraching these girls? Is that what they're implying? Obviously, no one is telling them what's going on these days. Don't they bother to call the Ombudsman? He knows what's going on, doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

The second TYC term is "Omerta."
It means Code of Silence. That is when a person opts to withhold what is believed to be vital or important to protect loyal members of the group.

Anonymous said...

6:35 p.m.

What the hell are we going to "lose?" We've already made the change. Your type is exactly the type that fuels mispreception. You have absolutely no idea what we deal with day in and day out for several hours a day. If they are getting dangerous, then we will take the appropriate security measures to deal with the threat for the safety of everyone, including the staff. Your kind of thinking makes our places dangerous. So take that a hug-a-thug mentality elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

The third TYC term is "Dimetra." It means, "bad choice."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hmmmmm, so 6:51, now it's a "hug a thug" mentality to think isolation and strip searching shouldn't be overused. And you wonder why there are folks who think TYC culture can't change and just want to abolish it.

I didn't read the whole complaint, but I didn't see any claim that male guards were strip searching girls. Perhaps someone can point me to that, if it's not just a red herring.

There are many things that make TYC unsafe, and the biggest thing is understaffing and the size of the facilities. These paranoid comments that the only way to maintain security is through mistreatment alone exhibit an unfortunate myopia, as does the notion at 6:31 that only TYC front-liners know what's what. Well guess what? Despite such arrogance, you're not the only folks in the conversation. Besides, plenty of juvie professionals don't support routine use of those tactics, including more than a few long-timers at TYC to judge by past employee reactions on this blog.

Finally, FWIW, ACLU has won litigation in other jurisdictions in the past on similar subjects. You can be dismissive of the litigation, but that's probably burying your head in the sand. We're well beyond the stage where just circling the wagons and claiming nobody knows anything but TYC staff is a credible public position.

Anonymous said...

They should send CPS in to look into the ACLU ??????
Come on this is a lock up unit !!! Maybe we should let all of the TYC Youth out in the Neighborhoods of the ACLU People and see How they like it!!! I can tell you all one thing if they dont get a grip on these Youth now we will be paying for it many many years to come just visit the Abilene Mall sometime LOL Now thats scarey!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the genius at 8:32 - they DO let all those TYC kids out into the neighborhoods, or at least all but a tiny handful. The question is how will their stay in TYC have changed (or reinforced) their anti-social behaviors when they get out.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:45 maybe we should let them out in your area LOL,,,I have met aclu when they first arrived in Brownwood and it was quite funny they had a report ready in about a few days on what they seem as a problem!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its all political as far as im concerned, I was told TYC was to show the Kids what will happen when they mess up??????????????Looks like a Holiday Inn to me 8:45

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Quit pontificating and go to Brownwood and see for yourself. Spend a couple of days there.

Then, come back here and leave your observations as to what actually goes on there.

Anonymous said...

The ACLU can say all that it wants to. Where is the evidence that being strip searched by female staff is retraumatizing? Maybe they should be patted down instead????

Brownwood is not a residential treatment center, it is a high security juvenile correctional facility. There are girls with very violent histories, there are girls with unstable histories, this is not summer camp.

If you want the girls to learn vocational skills and to work in the institution, then they have to be searched. If they cannot do these things then what are you supposed to have them do 16 hours a day?

Anonymous said...

6:23,

Maybe the ACLU is filing their lawsuit because of information provided by the "TYC Psychology Department" (whatever that is).

Historically there are inherent tensions between "psychology departments" and correctional departments in correctional institutions. Amazingly, TYC had a psychologist as director of juvenile corrections for a brief period of time. I think he would have made numerous positive changes in the treatment of youth in TYC but Dr. Brantley didn't stand a chance as a psychologist in charge of corrections when Demetria and Bronco Billy rolled in with their TDCJ mentality.

At the institutions I have been at, the psychologists are not payed well enough to stay around long enough to make an impact.

Anonymous said...

You better read the complaint before you post. You cannot defend these actions. These are horrific allegations and events, which violate numerous TYC policies. If this is the mentality at Brownwood, after all that has been going on, TYC is in serious trouble come sunset.

Anonymous said...

You better read the complaint before you post. These actions are horrific. I cannot believe that you pepper spray a youth for self injurious behavior. I cannot believe you bind them for refusing to be searched. Absolutely unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

You should not only read the complaint but imagine what would you do if a juvenile was self abusive and using a sharp metal object to scratch themselves, would not give up the object and was threatening to use it on you. You could:
a)just watch and let them continue to cut themselves possibly leading to death
b) go in and retrieve the object and take the chance of getting seriously hurt or dying
C) pepper spay after trying to gain cooperation and also warning numerous times that they would be pepper sprayed if they did not give up the object that they were utilizing.
You pick and No,I do not work at that facility but can paint the picture because many of us have encountered the same type situation and luckily the youth ended up giving up the sharp metal object.
I do not necessarily believe that pepper spay should be the only answer but who really wants to call a parent and explain that their child cut their arm up and we watched.
I think we would really have to know more about this specific story

Kevin Ashby said...

I have worked in the Brownwood State School going on 8 years. And yes I do work in security, so let's get the real truth out right now. No male staff has ever searched in a female youth, this is done by the female staff in security. When we had male youth they were searched in by male staff. Do you have any idea what these youth can hide in there body cavities? You would be surprised. Prescription drugs are a big problem on any campus, these poor little youth store these drugs in all places on there bodies. So what are you saying that we should just let them pass the drugs to other students or heaven forbid that a youth may overdose. Pills go in your mouth not up your nose. We receive almost 1000 complaints by these youth each month, over things they do not like. Did anyone ever ask there victims if they had a choice? Restraints are applied to the youth if they refuse to be searched in, once again this is for the safety of the campus. Pepper Spray is never used on any youth unless that youth tries to assualt staff, or become to combative to control, and physical force would cause more harm to the youth. And yes we do enter the cells if a youth is trying to harm themselves and if they become aggresive at this time pepper spray is also used, this is used to protect staff for harm.I do not know where you get your facts from but there are no youth in TYC at this time for minor crimes. This would be called Senate bill 103. These youth are being held for murder, assualt, sexual assualt,drugs charges, assualt on youth are the elderly etc. These youth are also able to file false charges on staff with no repercussions. So tell me who is the criminal and who is the staff. Once again no staff at this time has ever been convicted of any sexual crimes which started this mess in the first place over a year ago. The youth at this time have more rights that children in the free. So before you blog please get your facts straight. And quit putting everything off on the staff at these facilities.

Kevin Ashby JCO 4

Anonymous said...

Right on Kevin!

I worked in Corsicana for seven years and San Saba for six. There are no unnecessary searches. When parents bring in illegal drugs at visits, students "cheek" drugs all over their bodies and "homemade" weapons are always a risk. I have never seen a male staff search a female student or a female staff search a male student.

It is time to stop the nonsense.

The reality of what TYC is going through is a result of political fallout. The lynch mob has decided that we need to lynch an entire agency for the failings of John Paul Hernandez and Ray Brookins, two men with different sexual outlooks and orientations and extremely bad judgement.

The biggest problem that I see from the outside is that there is no vision within TYC. As the prophet said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

davidt500

Anonymous said...

Amen to that Kevin. Just keep in mind the ACLU can only justify it's existance if it files a lawsuit here and there. They just go looking for anything they can get their hands on, except, of course, when the big bad gov. takes children away from their mothers, eh-hem. They don't stand a chance on this issues. We are compliant with ACA on both issues.

Anonymous said...

In support of 7:50 a.m.,

"When I was the executive director ... I never would have filed a lawsuit first and asked questions later," Harrell said. "I'm disappointed." TYC Ombudsman Will Harrell on ACLU filing a blind sided lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Amen to Kevin, I work at another facility and agree with the handeling of combative and agressive youth. I have worked with youth who are cutters and have had to call parents to say your child is OK however his left arm is scared with 25 new cuts, which will leave a scar. fortunetly most parents already know about the behavior. With out controls what would happen if the youth wanted to hurt himself more? TYC doesn't have the ability to use medication like MHMR hospitals to sedate the bahavior. BTW- Kevin, I ran a lookup and you left off aggravated robbery, arson, burglary, capital muder, UUMV, and theft for your girls. All felonies. I guess SB 103 did it's job and eliminated the misdameaner youth. The ACLU didn't stand up for the FLDS's, I guess that tells you something.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of people telling us what we can't do, what do we do to control these kids if we take all the things people want changed?
If 2 kids start fighting and one pulls a shank, you dont think the staff will be at fault for letting that happen? But we are not supposed to search them.
If 2 youth assault a staff and the staff is out for 4 weeks, the kid is back on the dorm in 3 days like nothing happened. Laughing because they know they can do it and not have to worry about what will happen to them.
They are using the girls to get sympathy knowing that we have to apply the rules fairly, if strip searches end for girls haw do we justify still strip searching boys?
They have been abused also but the public will see it is girls and the perception is these poor girls that have been abused are being mis-treated.
We are in charge of keeping the youth safe and inside the fence but each week it seems like we have one less tool to use to do it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

This comment seems to sum up a lot of frustration here: "We are in charge of keeping the youth safe and inside the fence but each week it seems like we have one less tool to use to do it."

True enough. But it misses a larger point: There are others "in charge," too. Understaffing and large facilities are the main reasons staff on youth abuse rates increased over the last several years. Line staff are the victims of bad decisions by the Lege and the agency, but that doesn't mean "anything goes" regarding what you do when kids misbehaves.

The Lege was told they needed more staff and smaller facilities. In response they chased away many of TYC's most experienced, capable staff and packed more kids into the largest facilities. I know that offers little comfort when you're facing a violent kid, but there have to be limits to brutal or degrading treatment of juveniles.

To that extent, TYC staff may have noticed you have little or no input into either of the forums - the courts or the Legislature - where those limits are typically set. That's the way of the world (at least in a right to work for less state where you have no significant union). No one's blaming you, IMO - these questions are basically a policy debate, not an allegation individuals did something wrong. You did what you were trained to do, and indeed ordered to do. Everybody knows that, so don't be defensive.

I don't know much about the strip search issue. From what I've seen, the cases where ACLU won in the past in federal court challenged policies that were similar to TYC's in using "blanket," "suspicionless" strip searches, but often in county detention and not youth prisons. I have no idea what the federal standards would be for state juvie lockups.

However, the Ombudsman's own reports have repeatedly criticized TYC's overuse of isolation in the BMP program, and have similarly alleged that TYC's policies did not track federal court rulings and national best practices, so this certainly isn't the first time the agency has heard these complaints about BMP.

It's my understanding that TYC's policies on isolation are under review, but that past policies were considered out of line with what most of the rest of the country considered best practices on the topic, according to Harrell and others who'd studied it. Whether that means it's unconstitutional is another matter. We'll find out.

Anonymous said...

Pansy ass ACLU. You want to have an impact then work with TYC to make positive changes. It was probably easier for them to just file a lawsuit so that's what they did.

I just wish the legislature as well as these mostly pathetic advocacy groups would allow TYC to get its stuff together.

Anonymous said...

I know what you are saying and in a perfect world that would be great but we deal with violent kids and our unit is for kids with mental problems so we have to be extra careful but take one day inside and you will see these kids can become out of control in a few seconds.
Every day I get threated and cussed.
I am continually put down and "clowned" for their entertainment and each day we are told, don't send them to security, it looks bad.
Don't write 225's because we want them to leave faster.
Now they want us to work where we can't search the kids and if they beat us we have to tuck tale and let them back on the dorm with no penalty.
I am open to suggestions but are we are getting right now are directives to stop doing most everything.
If they want a safe place we need some program to help keep them under control.

Anonymous said...

Just read some of the case that was filed by the ACLU. There are always two sides to every story and seems to me that if you don't follow the rules or don't do what you are asked then you know what the consequences will be then tough. When it says a girl was put in isolation for not allowing officers to strip search her that could mean so many things. They informed the young lady she needed to be search so she went off and started swinging at the officers or what? What does wouldn't let them strip search her mean?

Just something for TYC to have to deal with when they are in the midst of trying to get things together.

Anonymous said...

This lawsuit is all Grits fault. Since he bad-mouthed the ACLU several weeks ago relating to their lack of interest/action in the FLDS cases, they (ACLU) went shopping for a case to file so they could get Grits off their asses. It worked!

That's all for free, Grits. Ain't gonna charge you one cent.

Plato

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Plato, I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts the ACLUTX folks don't consider any mildly supportive comments here to outweigh the FLDS criticisms! I understand some folks are still pretty grumpy about that.

I have no idea what's going on at ACLUTX these days, and hardly know anybody who works there any longer. I praise them when they do good and criticize them when they screw up, just like everybody else. Folks there seem to take both praise and criticism personally, I suppose because of my past affiliation, but I'm just calling balls and strikes.

Anonymous said...

The tyc has always appeared to attract and retain staff with hall monitor syndrome where they can exercise their various forms of abuse on the most vulnerable and yes volatile children in Texas. The best part is the kids are volatile so its gives the excuse that the jco has the right/privilege to abuse, be it emotional, physical, or sexual. The tyc still maintains a culture of humiliation in the name of security which further supports the cultivation of anti social behavior of the “thugs” they are in charge of unthugging.

Locking a kid up in isolation with the hope of the kid making a noise about it so the restraints can be applied with the extra bonus of beating the kid is what I have always believed to be a perk of employment as a tyc jco. Now granted only an inbreed retarded redneck would see it that way, but the joy that can be seen in their eyes tells it all. Many tyc jco’s have always enjoyed the privilege of taking out their emotional shortcoming in abusive ways towards these kids with full support of the tyc culture in the name of security. Why are the majority of tyc employees, especially those at the top like this, they can’t work any place else, because those that can, do.

I hope that somehow every tyc kid can get permission to “break norms”, braking the normal cycle of tyc’s “rehabilitation” program and become productive citizens. The emotional abuse is stronger today than ever before, these kids are given no hope of becoming successful productive citizens. The jcos are allowed to use the most dangerous weapon against these kids, a cocked tongue, and their training in its use for positive change is pathetic at best. It was better when the jcos did not speak other than a few guttural noises that represented a command and then simply beat the crap out of a kid for not understanding. No paper work no bs like pre Morales vs Turman. Bruises heal, abusive words generate emotional scars for a lifetime.

Perhaps tyc should reexamine turdman’s vision, and can get the good ol Mountain View State School for Boys program back on line. That was a lovely place that provided great jobs for unemployable hall monitor syndrome people and produced fabulous graduates for tdc. Oh wait tyc cloned that program to its other schools, brownwood, gainsville giddings (the first clone) , mart, just to name a few.

119 years of child abuse and still going strong.
Sheldon tyc#47333

Whitsfoe said...

Here's our policy on strip searches:

"Strip searches will be based on reasonable belief that the youth has custody or control of contraband or other prohibited material. Reasonable belief is not required when youth returns from contact with the general public or from outside the facility."

In other words, it's not the norm, and if it is at any one of these facilties, then your probably violating our own policy or you have a serious lack of supervision if you have that much contraband. Staff have to explain what this "reasonable" belief is, and document it on the incident report. If that's been ignored, then we'll have a problem.

The issue with the BMP has already been addressed. It's going out the door. Kaput. Done.

But I am curious as to why ACLU wouldn't give one of their own (Will) an opportunity to address the issue? The Ombudsman was created for this very reason. He's not a TYC employee either. That's just wrong trying to make him look like he's not doing his job? I've seen some back stabbing in my days, but this one takes the cake.

Anonymous said...

davidt500 wrote:
The reality of what TYC is going through is a result of political fallout. The lynch mob has decided that we need to lynch an entire agency for the failings of John Paul Hernandez and Ray Brookins, two men with different sexual outlooks and orientations and extremely bad judgement.

"Extremely bad judgment?" That's your assessment of sexual assault of teenagers in state penitentiaries? Are you saying that coerced sexual assault falls within the "different sexual outlooks" category?

Sick.

Anonymous said...

5:00

I believe I said extremely bad judgement.

I do not believe that it is a crime to be a bisexual (Brookins) or a homosexual (Hernandez) bu I believe that the exercise of extremely bad judgement and victimizing incarcerated boys is a crime.

Yes I also believe that Mrs. Barnard, Mrs. Deans, and Mr. Harrison all exhibited extremely bad judgement, on the verge of criminality (if not actually criminal) in their shielding of Brookins and later Hernandez.

Grits, I wish I were just name calling so you could remove this, but mach testimony has surfaced that reiterates the issues of the two men's sexual orientation.

and 5:00 extremely bad judgement usually ends in criminal behavior.

davidt500

BTW I do know all of the people that I have named.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that I know is that TYC written policies have been ignored since the scandal began, so I am always leery when someone says TYC policies are "under review" since there seems to be an awful lot of new unwritten policies in the new TYC.

I am still trying to find the policy where medical neglect resulting in death is not within the jurisdiction of the IG's authority for abuse, neglect, and exploitation investigations.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Sigh.

After reading the staff comments posted here, as well as the ACLU complaint and the news profile of the five plaintiffs, it seems patently obvious that this is the wrong argument in the wrong place at the wrong time.... for about the millionth time in TYC's increasingly tragic history.

Based on their published profiles, which don't seem to resemble the ones described here, these girls clearly should never, ever, have been sent to a facility like Brownwood to begin with. They should have been placed in a smaller, secure facility that offered appropriate psychological, educational, and corrective services.

But TYC doesn't have such facilities or such services.

It's almost pointless to argue about which situations in a facility like Brownwood call for pepper spray or for strip searching. They all do. Why? Because those are the most likely options in that kind of environment.

It's worth reiterating Grits' point that this is NOT about the individual staff, but about the policymakers and authorities who have put staff and youth alike in an untenable (and, as many of you have pointed out, needlessly dangerous) situation.

BTW, it's also worth noting that practically every rebuttal to the ACLU's case, which may or may not have merit, has been given to past allegations of abuse against TYC over the past 60+ years:

1. People who don't work at TYC don't have any idea what staff face each day, so they have no right to criticize: The first part of this statement is usually true, no denying it. But nobody has a monopoly on the truth. Plus, the institutions have a way of putting staff in a "bubble" where they can't tell how the things they say sometimes look to people "in the free." In other words, staff have just as limited a perspective as outsiders do.

2. It's misleading to talk about TYC inmates as "kids" b/c they are physically grown or near-grown, and they are just as dangerous as adult criminals: But just look at the profile of the five plaintiffs. The first one wasn't grown when she arrived at Brownwood four years ago. Thanks to several additions to her sentence, based on her inability to "adjust" to an institution that bears absolutely no resemblance to the outside world TYC is allegedly preparing her for, she's grown now. Does this really prove anything other than failure?

3. TYC as a whole is being unfairly punished for the actions of a few bad apples: This defense has been trotted out practically every time there's been an abuse scandal since World War Two, for crying out loud. In the end, each time, it's the barrel itself that's rotten. Even the good apples struggle to remain good b/c there are so many encouragements to be bad. It is entirely possible that even an ACLU lawyer might hit, or gas, or humiliate, a kid if he were in your shoes.

To say that two staffers used "bad judgment" strongly implies, though I don't think this is what was meant, that their mistake was getting caught.

And BTW the reason their actions have brought so much heat on TYC is, IMO, more b/c of the systematic cover-up that followed... which strongly suggested other abuses covered up, even a culture of abuse and cover-up... one which has appeared again and again in TYC's history.

I'm not even suggesting any of the posters here fit that description. I have no idea. I get that they are tired of being smeared as abusers by association.

But as citizens we have a responsibility not to just take anyone's word for it. TYC is a public agency performing a public function with some of the most vulnerable and also dangerous (to themselves and others) individuals in our society. It isn't a Gitmo-like black hole where we should stow problem juveniles and just forget about them.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

I say,send all these people who think we are so horrible and make them work 30 days in TYC non stop and then see if they still want to file that lawsuit.
It all boils down to the fact if they are going to take every thing away from TYC to control these kids, then the bottom line is going to be death or serious injury to student and staff at some point. Then the clock will swing back the other way.
We are spiraling down hill everyday due to outsiders trying to run this show and they have not even seen a preview of what we deal with daily.
It is very easy to sit in an office and think how things would work better and dream up, look up, and spit out best practices when you , yourself do not have to deal with the fall out everyday. You can run any agency from afar and you sure can not make best decisions if you don't know what is really happening.
I can understand how a judge could rule on a situation when he does not have a clue what is really going on. Come on out, work for awhile and get the real picture.
We are just being cut off at the knees with controlling these kids in TYC.

Pissed at Perry said...

Honestly Bill, if they reported what they knew to the joint-select committee, and to Rick Perry and his aids, and they have evidence they did, then how did TYC cover anything up? Is it really TYC's fault that the Ward County D.A.'s office did not move more swiftly to prosecute?

Someone please tell me what else that agency could have done to reveal what it thought had been revealed to Whitmire et.al and to Rick Perry?

Both Whitmire et.al and Rick Perry knew what was being alleged, but neither have acknowledged shit and both pointed fingers back at the TYC. But still, that agency has evidence that they revealed what they knew, and to this outsider, I'm still waiting for Whitmire and Perry to accept some responsibility for what's occurred at the TYC. I'm not holding my breath. But I think everyone needs to get off the TYC's ass and let them undergo the reforms.

Pissed at Perry Tax Payer

Anonymous said...

The ACLU will lose and they know it. They don't have any bargaining chips. The ombudsman will lose his job.

Anonymous said...

Bill, listen carefully. THERE WAS NO SYSTEMATIC COVER-UP.

Take two individuals with (allegedly) bad behavior, add a Ranger without the gumption to arrest them when he had the evidence, and a DA who is too busy or too lazy to do his job and you get this TYC "cover up." When that concoction comes out of the oven, top it with politicians trying to point fingers at anyone but themselves, media outlets trying to win prizes for themselves, and people with axes to grind and you have a true smear campaign.

TYC is the only entity in this mix with no power, so TYC takes all of the hits. There was no cover-up.

Anonymous said...

All youth that work in the cafe, grounds keeping, off campus, are searched in the security unit prior to going back to their dorms.

Is there a problem with this? What kind of liability would TYC have if they chose not to follow this practice and a youth was able to bring a weapon or drugs into their environment?

Unless I'm mistaken this is a juvenile correctional/treatment program and if you have ever worked in one you would know why this is done. I have never seen the opposite sex search (strip) a youth period. If this has occurred it is a management issue.

Will Harrell will not loose his job, he has done more for TYC in the last 8 months than anyone Perry or Whitmire has dropped on us.

I would like to know if Harrell will burn that ACLU card he has been carrying in his pocket for the past 6 years?

Can I get an AMEN, AMEN!!!

Anonymous said...

Pissed, I actually agree with you about letting TYC undergo its reforms. I thought that was what had been happening under Nedelkoff and Harrell and don't quite get the timing of the ACLU lawsuit at all.

Having said that, I don't get the chronology of the sex abuse scandal that some are presenting here.

It was widely reported that with regard to the two offenders at WTSS, information about their actions was bottled up by some TYC officials in Austin, and that one of them had, at best, a questionable history that was known to higher-ups even before the incident that started the whole scandal.

I agree that the county prosecutor, the governor's administration, and certain legislators really blew it on this. (However, I don't agree at all that the Texas Ranger who investigated the case was at fault in any way). All of this is pretty well known and not controversial to anyone who has been paying attention for the last year.

But to say that TYC itself, as it existed at the start of 2007, was largely innocent of any culpability, doesn't line up with the public record.

And honestly, I'm not sure why any of that is relevant to a discussion of the ACLU lawsuit. It's a separate case completely.

All this stuff about people sitting in offices may feel good but is pretty counter-productive. Using that logic, we could also say that JCOs shouldn't be involved in policy-making because they don't have any experience in governance. But why would any sane person say that? Of course JCOs should have input into policy.

In fact, many of the advocates for juvenile justice "best practices" are veteran practitioners themselves who have spent extended time inside several juvenile facilities.

I'm not one of them b/c I'm a historian by training, not a sociologist or a criminologist or a corrections expert or a child psychiatrist or a social worker. And I've always been very up front about that whenever I've posted here. I've been inside exactly one facility and observed in juvenile court a few times.

My comments are based on six years of research for a book on the history of juvenile justice in Texas and the U.S. I started this project years before the current scandal erupted.

And I readily admit that my perspective is limited by my lack of hands on experience. But much of what I have seen in the last year is eerily reminiscent of the events of the past 100 years. And the "best practices" derided here have been well known for at least 50 years. Little of it is new, cutting-edge, untested stuff.

Each time I've written anything here, I've been very clear that my criticisms were aimed not at the staff but at the TYC administration and the lege policy makers.

I'm not your enemy. Rail against me as a clueless desk jockey if it makes you feel better but it won't lead to anything useful.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know the TRUTH about Victory Field? We are losing kids so fast we are all getting worried! It feels like a sinking ship!

Anonymous said...

TYC is the sinking ship, not just VFCA.

Anonymous said...

I have been with TYC for 10.6 years. I have to say that during that time, I have seen and heard many things. Youth are not arbitrarily placed in security--not isolation, they come out of their rooms for school, exercise, etc.---the youth who stay long periods of time commit assaults on staff or peers that result in bodily injury. A youth can assault a staff and nothing happens unless the county picks up charges. Granted some of these youth have problems (emotional, physical, etc) but that does not excuse the fact that some of them killed their mothers, fathers, babies, friends, teachers, or kidnapped people, shot people. In addition to dealing with their problems, they must still be held accountable for what they did so they don't do it in the future.

The legislature and advocacy groups, although they have the best intentions, have forgotten the victims. When will the victims be advocated for??? Youth now come in and do their minimum and leave whether they have completed any treatment or not. Isn't treatment what helps these youth who have issues, not just warehousing them. Even those in TDCJ aren't guaranteed release at their minimum. We have seen so many youth going out and coming right back in and the sad thing is, now we have new crimes where before it was technical violations.

I just pray that when youth are not searched when returning to the dorm from work or arrival to security, etc, that no one gets hurt with no way to verify they didn't bring in a piece of metal, or pills. I would encourage anyone to visit Brownwood. We certainly aren't understaffed. I think generalizations should stop.

I haven't seen any slander going on with the prisoner abuse issues in TDCJ or how about the abuse reported in Adult Protective Services, or the abuse in State Schools for the Mentally Handicapped. There have been incidents (seems like an increase) lately yet no one has done anything with that.

Reality is, since the legislature and advocacy groups don't want kids held accountable for their crimes, there will be an increase and maybe one of them will be their next victim----maybe then they will wake up.

Anonymous said...

Nope Needelkoff et al are still rearrannging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

TYC is already at the bottom of the sea.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bush,

The timeline of how TYC did not cover it up is this:

If you go to the Texas Legislature website and look at the archived video of the Criminal Justice Committee on March 16, 2005, you can watch Dwight Harris say that he wants to brief the committee about the incidents at WTSS. Whitmire brushes him off and says, "You can tell us about that later." He wasn't interested in hearing it then.

TYC executives sent written information to Whitmire and other legislators and the governor around that same time giving them the information on the incidents.

That exchange of information is why there was not a "cover up."

Then, 2 years later, the legislators all denied ever being told about this. The newspaper reporters, for whatever reason (probably to sell papers), seized on this and thus, the "public record" as you call it of a cover up was created.

Newspaper reporters aren't exactly the most honest or knowledgeable people. I'd recommend not trusting everything you read.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To be fair, though, after the West Texas case they found other cases of physical and sexual abuse, including at Brownwood, where offending staff hadn't been fired or prosecuted. Plus Dwight Harris apparently knew a lot more about the West Texas case than he told the Lege in 2005. (There's a reason he resigned rather than answer a single question about it.) To say there was no concealing of abuse going on at TYC IMO misrepresents what happened last year. They responded incredibly poorly, targeting dozens of staff for firing who weren't involved in abuse at all, but there was some fire to go with the smoke.

Pissed at Perry said...

With all respect sir, I'm going to question these allegations:

"To be fair, though, after the West Texas case they found other cases of physical and sexual abuse, including at Brownwood, where offending staff hadn't been fired or prosecuted." What exactly did they find and what evidence do you have that supports that the TYC intentionally covered anything up? I have personally worked with their former General Counsel Neil Nichols and his deputy Emily Helm and know both very well. Given their character, I seriously doubt that allegation so, please, let's have a little substance to that outright bullshit allegation.


"Plus Dwight Harris apparently knew a lot more about the West Texas case than he told the Lege in 2005. (There's a reason he resigned rather than answer a single question about it)". Well I don't disagree with that at all, especially when one considers the fact it all fell on deaf ears. Dwight Harris knew more than he told, but there's no doubt he told them what was being alleged. How is it his fault that Rick Perry and John Whitmire didn't act?

Again, that agency has been hammered to no end by the liberal mainstream media and those Nazi liberal support groups. I haven't heard a peep from Rick Perry with regard to how he dropped the ball. I think the federal government should place a conservator on the entire state of Texas and get rid of the entire leadership of this state, starting with Rick Perry and John Whitmire.

Again, let that agency have the opportunity to heal itself. But if you insist on reporting on the TYC, let’s get all the facts out there.

Pissed at Perry

Anonymous said...

Ditto, P at P.

"To be fair," Scott, I am not sure about the timeline of the sexual abuse cases at Brownwood. If a sexual assault was reported, I would bet my farm TYC was dealing with it -- maybe there had been no firing YET, but I'm sure the staff was on leave or suspended and the wheels were turning. Remember that TYC can't arrest or indict anyone. They can only report allegations to law enforcement, and I'd also bet my farm Brownwood had done that, too.

Yes, Harris knew a lot about the West Texas case in 2005, but he wasn't allowed a few minutes by the legislators to talk about it, remember? E-mails from Harris' office were released by the media showing that TYC had kept the Governor's people and the legislators informed all along. I take Harris at his word that he resigned a few months early hoping that removing himself from the landscape would give TYC a better chance to get the needed funds for the current LAR. It didn't work, though, and all Harris gets for his trouble are accusations that he was "covering" something.

"They" who responded poorly by targeting dozens of staff for firing who weren't involved in the abuse at all were the hired guns headed by Kimbrough, not the old TYC regime. Harris is one of the former execs who believed people deserved a second chance, such as one of your regular correspondents. The "smoke" caused by those firings had nothing directly to do with the original abuse at WTSS; it was just more grandstanding by Kimbrough, and look at the pain it caused.

In my opinion, the worst shortcoming of the old TYC leadership was (possibly) not thoroughly investigating complaints from the West Texas facility that something untoward might be going on. My experience with TYC's central office was that they jumped on any complaint by staff about administration, no matter how outlandish the allegation sounded.

Also, if TDCJ wasn't forthcoming with all of the information about Brookins before TYC hired him, they should have been.

Abuse and other bad things happened at TYC before 2007 and may still be happening, but there was no systematic cover-up until February 2007 when everyone realized no prosecution was proceeding and everyone tried to point fingers. There's the REAL coverup. But, as I've said several times, no one pays the tab except TYC.

Here's a bold statement: There was no rampant sexual abuse in TYC, and no systematic cover-up of the few cases that have been investigated.

Anonymous said...

Pissed at Perry, you are right about Perry and Whitmire not acting in 2005, remember that 2006 was an election year for state officials. If they had acted so publicly irresponsibly in 2005 as they did in 2007, they might not have been reelected.

In case your memory fails you, they pulled a similar stunt in 2001 on CPS, which is now a bigger mess than it ever had been before, and is technically the Department of Protective Services.

Yes, Grits, all of the BS, from TYC to FLDS can be traced to this same lynch mob in Austin.

Anonymous said...

Bill, if we can get you to see the correct timeline for the TYC events, it will do some good. You're writing a history book about TYC, aren't you? Will it include the events since 2005? Don't you want to get it right? It's important to us that you get it right.

Anonymous said...

The book is basically already written and under review at the publisher. It mostly covers the period from the 1880s, when the first juvenile facility opened in Texas, through the 1980s, when the Morales v Turman settlement was reached.

This means that TYC is not the only subject. It also discusses local juvenile courts, community-based prevention and intervention programs, and statewide facilities in the pre-TYC era. Whenever possible, parents and kids themselves are also key actors in the story, dating back to the 1920s.

There is a short discussion of the 2007 scandal but it isn't a major focus of the book other than to highlight the fact that many of the problems, issues, etc, that have plagued juvenile justice historically continue to do so.

Is it critical? Yes. There's just not a whole lot to celebrate in the history of juvenile justice, which with the best of intentions has often caused great harm, for a variety of reasons. And FWIW, staff have often been exploited badly within the system as much as kids.

The book is also a history of ideas about "dangerous" juveniles, many of which have been expressed in juvenile justice policy. In turn, JJ experts have helped shape public opinion about youth, and not always in the most helpful ways.

The book's thesis is that over the past 100 years, the protected status of modern childhood and adolescence has not been extended to all youth, particularly blacks, Latinos, and working-class whites who have been "racialized" as somehow less than white. And that we can see this most clearly when looking at the history of juvenile justice.

The title is "The Origins of the Super-Predator: Race and Juvenile Delinquency in Twentieth-Century Texas."

Bill Bush

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@8:39 - I don't have time to re-educate people who didn't read or believe the news coverage on abuse cases as it came out last year, but a quick search found this Dallas News item which includes this comment showing complaints weren't being adequately investigated from way back:

"Alison Brock, a former chief of staff for state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said she referred 25 abuse complaints about the TYC's Crockett State School to the [USDOJ] Civil Rights Division beginning in January 2003. She did so, she said, because the state agency was taking insufficient action."

Brock, of course, is the staffer whose pestering four years later got the WTSS case moving. I'll bet you Alison would disagree TYC promptly investigated everything under Dwight Harris and there was never a coverup.

Similarly, lets not forget the multiple TYC employees who were supposed to be monitoring the Coke County hellhole run by Geo Group. Their only job was to report problems - they had only oversight functions in their job descriptions - but they didn't do it. I think the reasons for that failure aren't all personal, but are part of an agency culture.

As for Brownwood, I'm thinking of the Segura case where the guy stayed on at Ron Jackson despite allegations of sexual abuse until AFTER the West Texas thing finally broke.

You're welcome to take Dwight Howard "at his word" regarding why he didn't allow himself to be held accountable for ignoring problems during his tenure. His explanation didn't pass muster with me, then or now. He looked and acted like a man with something to hide.

If y'all want to convince yourselves you're all a bunch of victims and continue the defensive whine-fest on this string, you're engaging in a serious "thinking error," to use the TYC jargon. I promise you're setting yourselves up nothing but disappointment and backlash by indulging that kind of myopia. It wasn't every staffer by a longshot, but you're foolish to claim there weren't any problems at all. And wrong.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Excuse me, Dwight Harris. Pls excuse the typo.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the point that more often than not local county prosecutors will not pick up and try a cases that involve TYC, especially if the staff is the alleged perpetrator. And I do believe that Dwight Harris did attempt to inform the legislature, if less than forcefully. And that TYC has been held accountable for failings that were not in the agency's control.

HOWEVER, it is a fact that TYC grew too quickly, losing much of its accountability. Dwight's administration was not properly holding administrators accountable. While I liked Chester Clay personally, much of this lack of accountability could be traced back to him and Lydia Banard. They did appear to protect and shield people from disciplinary action (WTSS, Freeman, etc..) while confusingly, going after others i.e. Mary Michael Deans at San Saba.

The agency has suffered and continuous to suffer from a lack or quality principled Leadership...no matter how much Covey training they preached, even Admin didn't follow it.

I firmly believe that that every individual will eventually be promoted to their level of incompetency. Sadly, many of those who were competent did not want to get into the political good ol'boy fray.

TYC was already having problems, and I don't doubt that Steve Robinson saw the iceberg coming and jumped shipped (retired) accordingly. Besides, Dwight appeared to have more pull with Leonard Lawrence, anyway.

Dwight, should never have been made Executive Director, his focus was too narrow and he couldn't see the forest through the trees. Linda Reyes, should have stayed over rehab. She was a good balance too corrections, unfortunately when she left she tipped the scales.

Corrine Alvarez Sanders should never have been promoted to head of treatment (she had too many vendettas to settle.)

Also, the corrections mindset had taken hold of campuses, too few people on campuses believed in or cared about treatment. This was less true on older campuses, but definitely true on newer campuses (Mart) and campuses like Crockett where all the experienced staff were terminated so young hotties with their shirts tucked it could be admired... for their assets, oops, sorry meant skills... wait that didn't come out right either... ;-)

TYC was already a bloated and sinking ship... it just happened to implode last year.

There is no one person or event responsible...it was a going to happen sooner or later...

Let's just hope this new conservator has what it takes to take TYC to dry dock and fashion a new Ship that will be more sea worthy than the last.

And for you treatment people, it doesn't matter that Resocialization was scrapped. Overall, the final package and design of the program was pretty flawed. The workbooks were trash!!!! Despite, the flaws it was still just PPC and CBT...
Any new CBT program regardless of it's packaging should work...as long as you have staff (professional and lay persons alike) who believe in and conduct rehabilitation.

My two cents!

Anonymous said...

Good job 8:39am, you hit the nail on the head. TYC Administrators in the field were following TYC policy regarding reporting alleged mistreatment to local law enforcement, but many were accused and lost their careers in the supposed "cover-up" because of the overzealous, sidekick to the Gov., Jay Kimbrough. It is amazing that he probably looks in the mirror every morning and still considers himself a hero. Ed and Dimitria followed suit like a couple of good house servants to the Governor and Whitmire, so it would look as if they were doing something to stop the "cover-up". All the while continuing to "cover-up" what Perry and Whitmire really knew back in 2005. If voters only knew half the truth, they would impeach Perry and run Whitmire out of Austin on the first train back to Houston. Why doesn't the media, specifically DMN, more specifically, the award winning Doug Swanson investigate and write a nice little story about the real "cover-up"? Is that too big a chunck to bite off?

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits,

The feds did nothing about the "25 cases from Crockett" that Allison referred because they had all been throughly investigated and the staff found to have engaged in the abuse were held accountable to TYC policy. Furthermore, they had all been reported to the local law enforcement and Central Office. Allison was trying to make a name for herself at the expense of the Crockett administration. Once again, get the facts straight, and don't believe enerything you read in the paper. Oh wait, maybe the feds are involved in the cover-up?

Anonymous said...

9:48,

I agree that there was some cronyism and favoritism in TYC, and possibly, some "hotties" were hired to be admired. BUT, please tell me how that this is different from any other State of Texas agency? Look at DPS, CPS, and let's not forget the biggie, TDCJ, it happens everywhere. I hope you are not foolish enough to think that it is not going on in TYC to this very day!

Anonymous said...

to 10:11

Naw, just an example... a very blatant example...but an example nonetheless. Even if it is the norm...it still is wrong.

My two cents...

Pissed at Perry said...

OK sir, you said...

"Alison Brock, a former chief of staff for state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said she referred 25 abuse complaints about the TYC's Crockett State School to the [USDOJ] Civil Rights Division beginning in January 2003. She did so, she said, because the state agency was taking insufficient action."

So what actions did the USDOJ take regarding the Crockett allegations? What were their findings? To my knowledge, the USDOJ has only been involved at Evins. Did the USDOJ act on Brock's allegations? No. Why is that? O.K.

Your right about the Coke County situation though.

I'm not defending Harris or anyone else at TYC. All I'm saying is that the agency had very little resources to adequately investigate allegations of a serious nature, and it seems that when they made referrals to local law enforcement for help, little to nothing was done. Despite this known fact, and the fact that the investigations only became reliable when they received an OIG unit, you all want to say they did nothing is just not holding water with many of us who have been watching this agency. You simply cannot give Rick Perry nor John Whitmire a pass regarding this mess.

pissed at perry said...

And by the way, I think all you TYC staff should stand up and quit taking this liberal slaughter of your agency. You know the truth so speak it.

Anonymous said...

Liberal slaughter....

Their maybe a few liberals involved in the slaughter of TYC but the process began and continues to be under the conservative watch...

Maybe you are referring to the ACLU. You know I think of the ACLU as a necessary check and balance. Though sometimes they do tend to come across as a bunch of hedonistic humanitarian anarchists with a few screws loose...but at least they will defend my right to say it!

my two cents.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the person who wrote, "Allison was trying to make a name for herself at the expense of the Crockett administration"

This is where I get off the train; you don't have a clue who or what you're talking about. If Alison wanted to "make a name" for herself she'd have done something besides tirelessly work behind the scenes for years. (The article I linked to answers the questions you ask so I won't bother, especially since you don't care to hear facts that disagree with your opinions anyway.)

Simply smearing your critics is not a substitute for argumentation, and denying widely reported incidents or selectively choosing facts doesn't make you right. Just a little bit pitiful. I have no idea why y'all think Doug Swanson or any serious reporter would take such delusional and self-aggrandizing complaints seriously, or look to the people making them for the "real" story. It's kind of bizarre, really.

I've been the first to defend TYC employees when those who were blameless paid the price for others' misconduct. But it's just silly at this point to contend that the agency has no problems and it's all the media or ACLU's fault.

Anonymous said...

The TYC machine is at it again. They always say, "Nothing is happening." Now they are saying, "Nothing happened back then."

Most people who post on this TYC blog are part of that machine. We haven't even begun to look at how that machine operates.

Anonymous said...

Grits,

I never said that TYC did not have any problems, but I stand by the facts, Allison is full of it, and had no evidence to support her claims about Crockett, and that's why the feds did not act upon her frivolous allegations. Anyone can say anything in the DMN, and Dougie will most likely print it if he can pump his ego and covet a few more awards. Show me the evidence.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Scott.

In your response to my post at 8:39, you cite Morning News articles, as if they are true. You have a habit of that. The DMN has printed several inaccuracies about TYC that I know of. I know because I was there. You didn't believe everything they printed regarding the FLDS -- why do you believe everything they printed about TYC?

I'm not the one who posted critically about Allison Brock, but she was going on complaints from Crockett, not confirmed reports. Again, did you automatically believe the complaints about the FLDS? Did you agree with taking hundreds of kids from their parents on the basis of one phone call that was shown in a few days to probably be a hoax?

I am not arguing that "there were no problems at all." This debacle turns around sexual abuse, and my primary argument is that there were far fewer instances of sexual abuse than the new regime or the news media led the public to believe. Remember that complaints are not equal to confirmed facts, and news articles are not equal to truth. And the Dallas Morning News shouldn't be relied upon for "education."

People looking for fairness are not whiners.

Anonymous said...

"Don't believe everything you read" should apply to anonymous blog posters as equally as to news reporters, government investigators, and public interest groups, right?

Maybe even more, given that you are running up against a mountain of inconvenient facts.

BB

Anonymous said...

There are facts, Bill, but there are also lies and slanted reports -- sometimes mountains of them. It is useful, I believe, to look at motives.

Anonymous said...

Me again, Bill. I have posted today only my OPINION that published reports and reporting from people with agendas should be treated suspectly. I base my OPINION on the FACT that I was there.

Anonymous said...

The machine is spinning like mad on this issue (ACLU lawsuit). We have only scratched the surface of the real TYC story. The machine is very effective. "It was only two men who showed poor judgment, otherwise everything was/is fine with TYC." That's their most famous spin.

One aspect of the machine is the special personal relationships that keeps everyone loyal - I won't tell what you are doing if you don't tell on me. Why did Dwight send Lydia to WT to cover things up about the sexual abuse of young men? TYC is absolutely filled with special relationships that ensure that everyone is protected and the truth doesn't get out.

Oh, I think I'll promote the one I spent the night with, not you - what do you think? Try complaining about that and see how far you get. I can get 10 people to swear to my side of the story.

Another aspect of the spin is that TYC smirk. What does that smirk mean? Could it mean "who will ever believe you, we surrived Pope intact, they will never ever get wise to us." What they can't cover up they whitewash.

What did Pope really do? I prune my rosebush every spring and it bounces back reinvigorated. Pope gave TYC a light prunning and, for all the complaints about unfairness, the machine found it refreshing. The machine is stronger than ever. What they don't cover up, they whitewash.

Anonymous said...

The machine is spinning like mad on this issue (ACLU lawsuit). We have only scratched the surface of the real TYC story. The machine is very effective. "It was only two men who showed poor judgment, otherwise everything was/is fine with TYC." That's their most famous spin.

One aspect of the machine is the special personal relationships that keeps everyone loyal - I won't tell what you are doing if you don't tell on me. Why did Dwight send Lydia to WT to cover things up about the sexual abuse of young men? TYC is absolutely filled with special relationships that ensure that everyone is protected and the truth doesn't get out.

Oh, I think I'll promote the one I spent the night with, not you - what do you think? Try complaining about that and see how far you get. I can get 10 people to swear to my side of the story.

Another aspect of the spin is that TYC smirk. What does that smirk mean? Could it mean "who will ever believe you, we surrived Pope intact, they will never ever get wise to us." What they can't cover up they whitewash.

What did Pope really do? I prune my rosebush every spring and it bounces back reinvigorated. Pope gave TYC a light prunning and, for all the complaints about unfairness, the machine found it refreshing. The machine is stronger than ever. What they don't cover up, they whitewash.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of special relationships, there is an administrator at Ron Jackson who is the queen of those. Could this have something to do with the news that's coming out of Brownwood?

Anonymous said...

From the AP (in March)
The West Texas district attorney accused of ignoring a graphic and detailed report alleging rampant sexual abuse at a state juvenile jail has won re-election.

Randall W. "Randy" Reynolds beat challenger Kevin Acker, the Ward County attorney, with about 68 percent of the vote in complete but unofficial returns in the Democratic primary.

The local DAs can be counted on to do their part and protect TYC. The local people will support this - 68 percent! Way to go! Would anyone be so stupid as to run on a reform platform - 32% don't sound like much fun!

Someone should look at the connections the local DAs and DA candidates have with the members of the TYC in crowd working a couple of miles down the road at the local TYC facility (good ole family ties and so on).

Annonymous said...

Bill and Grits, in your opinion, can this agency be salvaged? I have seen it changed so much that I wonder what it is going to take to change it for the better. The youth are in control in a lot of faciities, there is no reward system in place for them to be motivated to accept help. I firmly believe that human beings exist to get a positive reward in life, whether it be good health, a new job, day off, etc. When I was with TYC, we did not restrain any of the youth, we did not hold them past their minimum unless they had no where to go and they were working on Independent Living, and if you went and spoke to the one's who went through the program while I was there, they would tell you that even though you had to follow the rules, it was a program that was fair. I read the blog and talk to my old friends who are still with TYC and I don't know how they do it. There has not been a treatment program in over a year to speak of, so, introducing a new one now, how hard do you think it is going to be to get any of the youth invested in doing it? Bill, your thoughts would be appreciated, as will yours grits. Howard, your input would be also appreciated. Grits, you do defend and did defend the people who have been sacraficed, as I was one of them. For what it is worth, thank you. For the rest of you that are still trying to help the youth in TYC, hang in there, I appreciate your work and admire your courage.

Anonymous said...

I find it rather interesting that we are talking about old "coverups" instead of the current ones. The biggest current coverup going on in TYC is the medical negligence by UTMB resulting in several deaths and the medical dumping of ill or injured youth through immediate medical discharge when their medical treatment appears to be too costly to UTMB. The lack of a treatment program is also another current coverup. The release of untreated youth to reduce populations is another coverup. The hiring of unqualified overpaid administrators with connections is yet more coverup.There are many coverups now going on that make whatever happened at West Texas even under the worse case scenario seem very minor.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:12,

Your point about the youth taking control is, it seems to me, key.

Control is the central issue in any correctional environment. It has preoccupied corrections planners in adult prisons and youth facilities since at least the late 19th century.

The question is, how to maintain control while also making rehabilitation possible? Often the two end up being mutually exclusive, by all appearances.

This is why many reformers believe that making piecemeal policy changes in existing facilities isn't enough. It only makes for a more dangerous environment, as you've pointed out, and does little to further rehabilitation, which is supposed to be one of the major reasons for the existence of a separate juvenile system in the first place.

Richard Nedelkoff has, in his public statements, seemed to acknowledge that best practices would dictate very different types of facilities than the ones that currently exist. But getting there is probably very challenging in the current political environment.

And meanwhile, staff and youth are caught in what I can only imagine is a very muddled and dangerous kind of limbo.

My view is that the agency should not be scrapped, b/c it might lead to a further merging of the juvenile and adult systems, which would be bad for the youth, bad for the staff, and most importantly bad for society overall. It would be a historic reversal of the core values of a separate juvenile system.

I strongly support those values: that youth are more often than not less mature and thus less responsible for their actions than are adults, that they are more amenable to rehabilitation and to becoming good citizens, and that they are everybody's problem not just that of a small underpaid staff of JCOs, specialists, and administrators.

Bill Bush

pissed at perry said...

I think Howard Hickman, whoever he may be, makes a valid point. If I'm not mistaken, things have gotten much worse at the TYC since Rick Perry placed this agency under consevatorship after he bent over to John Whitmire's demands.

I still haven't heard why Turner's girl, Allison Brock's allegations vented to the USDOJ failed to turn up anything meaningful at the Crockett State School, and why the USDOJ did nothing with it. Why was that? Anyone care to fess up?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"I still haven't heard why Turner's girl, Allison Brock's allegations vented to the USDOJ failed to turn up anything meaningful "

Read the links already provided, it's explained quite thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Grits, you say: "I've been the first to defend TYC employees when those who were blameless paid the price for others' misconduct. But it's just silly at this point to contend that the agency has no problems and it's all the media or ACLU's fault." Just how many of the blameless have you publicly stood up for? I know there are more than three.

Anyway, just curious. The toilet still needs to be flushed.

Now Piss on Perry, go Kay! said...

Well tell me, Mr. Scott Henson, what action has the DOJ taken as a result of the DMN selling newspapers and on-line subscriptions to the DMN website with regard to what Allison Brock reported to them?

The fact is, the DOJ did nothing with those allegations, and you keep avoiding the question. What was the result of their involvement? What happened in the end? Not a damn thing. You media types run a bunch of sensational bullshit to prove your points, but that's all it is... sensational bullshit, and I don't even work for that agency and can see through the bullshit.

I can sit here and say you promote communism. Is that true? I'd hope not. But because I allege it, does it make it true? See the McCarthy trials man... better yet, go to Salem, and get your answers. This is nothing short of a liberal witch trial of an agency attempting to reform it’s self and outsiders attempting to run interference to justify their own radical agenda – and that being the weed burning liberals of the ACLU.

Anonymous said...

Here is what the link to the DMN says about Ms. Brock and her complaints about Crockett:

Alison Brock, a former chief of staff for state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said she referred 25 abuse complaints about the TYC's Crockett State School to the Civil Rights Division beginning in January 2003. She did so, she said, because the state agency was taking insufficient action.

Among the complaints confirmed by TYC investigators: Guards had used excessive force on inmates, and staffers had misplaced records of inmates' abuse claims.

Ms. Brock called an attorney in the Justice Department's Special Litigation Section, which enforces civil laws barring unconstitutional conditions in state custodial facilities. That section has a lower evidentiary threshold for bringing cases than the division's criminal section and can, if necessary, file suit to enforce recommendations.

The section looks for "pattern or practice" violations. Because its attorneys do not have subpoena power, they typically rely on citizen complaints or other public sources to build a case to open a formal investigation.

"One of the things I continued to hear [from federal attorneys] was that we need more complaints so we can show that it's systemic," Ms. Brock said. "And at some point I just thought, well, what do you need? A tsunami?"

No civil rights investigation of the Crockett facility ever occurred.

Just like what has been said, there was no evidence to support her frivolous claims because if there was the feds would have jumped all over it. TYC, specifically, Crokett Administration and the investigators at Crockett followed TYC policy on each and every allegation of mistreatment at Crockett. Ms. Brock came to the Campus and listened to a bunch of juvenile delinquents blow smoke up her skirt, and then ran to the feds with NOTHING to support her claims. She was played like a fool. Please Grits, stop defending her, you are looking like a fool too!

Anonymous said...

Don't feed the trolls, or they bite you over and over again.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Oh, I get it, there was no coverup because when abuse was reported, nothing was done. Gotcha. Makes perfect sense. (If it weren't defensive and ridiculously circular.) Personally, I value my credibility too much to pretend there was no physical or sexual abuse at TYC under Dwight Harris. That's a lie - his own stats admitted it tripled under his watch. Only you guys think nothing was wrong.

This string was originally about Brownwood, btw - I notice nobody wants to claim the Segura case never occurred (nobody's touched that one), the Coke County example was granted, and now the fact that the Bush Administration didn't do a civil rights investigation in Texas is used as "evidence" the allegations were spurious. Surely there were no political reasons for their inaction, huh? (They filed suit at Evins after their unresponsiveness was reported). Your stance that nobody did anything wrong is simply delusional, self serving, and not credible enough to respond to further until you dispute the other examples.

As for my defending TYC employees, I spent most of last year arguing against punishing employees who'd not been accused of wrongdoing. Your memory appears selective if you don't recall that. It's why most TYC employees are here.

The last commenter had good advice about troll feeding, so I'm done with this string - you whiners enjoy the masturbation session. Once you've all exonerated one another and the agency and convinced each other nobody has a clue about anything but you, maybe you can launch your own blog to spread such views and let me know how much traffic it attracts or how seriously you're taken.

Anonymous said...

Hay Bill we need the Gatesville State School for Boys system back in play with its Mountain View alternative for those really bad staff and kids. Mountain View was a monument to Turmans TYC and the beginning of really learning how to cover-up improprieties. 35 years and some 60k kids later and these tyc folks got cover-up down. What can decent Texans do about it?
Sheldon tyc#47333

Anonymous said...

"Guards had used excessive force on inmates, and staffers had misplaced records of inmates' abuse claims."

This was true and did happen at Crockett in 2002. Don't give the Crockett Admin too much credit for following up, though (unless you are referring to Linda Smith.) They only addressed issues because they had their arm twisted by legal to do so. I.E. Emily Helm's warning that if the continued to fail to take appropriate disciplinary action against several (favored) employees then the adminstrators would not be backed by the legal department if it did go to a lawsuit.

Grits, please don't too upset about all the "masturbatory" behavior and I certainly wouldn't class you as a mainstream media type. It sounds as if some of those writting may be trying to cover themselves.

Anonymous said...

Father's Day has come and gone. It got me to thinking. What kind of fathers are many of the men who work for TYC? What kind of role model are they for the young men in their charge?

Not many are married, have you noticed? How many remain unattached so as to benefit from the favors of the females they supervise? Actually, they hook up with the women that their buddies supervise and visa versa.

Don't we expect the TYC females to provide that service? This doesn't apply to all, but to a lot. These young men (students) see that females don't expect any committment so why should any of them bother to be responsible fathers?

Anonymous said...

2:38, you are an idiot. It is amazing how much venom you all can spew when there is not one single solitary piece of evidence to substantiate the lies being written about Crockett. GFB, I suppose you believe that W was behind the JFK assassination and the melting of the polar ice caps? Just for the record, nobody denied the abuse issues at Brownwood and some of the other schools. I only know of the facts and wrote about Crockett. Seems to me the only one jerking off is you, Scott, and you must be thinking about Allison. Niether of you have any facts.

Anonymous said...

5:56 p.m.

There were plenty of confirmed investigations and a letter from Emily Helm to the former administration (still got a copy of it.)

They went to the Karl Rove school of character assignation and truth obfuscation, too...

Anonymous said...

Okay 8:27, that is legal's job to give advice, and the Administration took it. As far as confirmed investigations, Central Office legal and HR approved those, too. If an investigation was confirmed, staff were held accountable. I would be willing to bet you don't have a darn thing from Emily Helm, and you are full of Oklahoma BS.

Anonymous said...

I have it... and other than driving through or flying over I haven't really been in Oklahoma.

Annonymous said...

We need to quit bickering over the past, we can not change it, we need to learn from it. Howard has a very valid and concerning point in the fact of medical neglect. We need to be looking at this more closely instead of arguing over past administrators. TYC is failing the youth if they are just letting them be released with serious medical issues, that, to me is almost criminal in itself. Howard, in your opinion,why has nothing been done or written about this? The media is concerned about physical and sexual abuse, look at the lawsuit from ACLU, what about the medical neglect? Why doesn't the ACLU look into that?

Anonymous said...

10:35,

The reason is that the medical neglect is kept quiet and most people who would report on it do not have access to the information. I am aware of two recent deaths, one of which sounds like negligent homocide to me.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Houston Chronicle
May 27, 2008, 10:08AM
Abbott's large war chest hints at higher ambitions.......

By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

......Democrats also are critical of him for inaction in a sexual abuse case at the Texas Youth Commission.

Can we count on the AGs office to deal with these TYC cases?

Anonymous said...

Nope, Abbott is about as competent as Perry, Kimbrough, Owens, and Pope.

Anonymous said...

Other than banishing Pope and Humphrey what has TYC done over the past few months?

Does it appear were stuck in the mud, looking through the rear view mirror, hoping that something more will happen?

What about the new leadership that was suppose to shake things up, Gadeow and Smith, can anyone tell me what they have done recently?

Not trying to throw any mud but at some point something has to give, some direction. Were still trying to get CoNextions off the ground here at Al Price, did I mention "Trying".

All of us keep hearing about our new Superintendent coming on board soon from out of state. Does this mean their qualified to run a facility because their from another state, what state could this be? Was the job posted, never mind no one would put in for it over here.

I'm done just wanted to vent , not that it will help much, have to work this weekend and the children are restless.

right wing said...

Not a damn thing. I guess the left doesn't like the right on this blog. I noticed they tend to shut up when the right dominates. Typical smelly feet liberals...

Anonymous said...

IMO, the powers that REALLY be are the lawmakers down in Austin. Nothing's changed because TYC is just biding time until the next legislative session in 2009. Brace yourself...there will be a lot more "thumb twiddling" until then. That's really all we can expect while the agency's hands are tied to SB103.

Anonymous said...

If the "right" had anything intelligent worth responding to then maybe the "moderates( still left of the right)" or the "left" would respond. Responding to a narrow minded fool who holds to only one point of view is a "one-sided" conversation/argument not worth engaging in any form of debate! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I would say it is those on the right who hide, waiting first to see if someone says something they agree with before putting their ideas out there. Afraid to stand alone.