Monday, July 14, 2008

In like a lion, out like a lamb: Proposal to end TYC conservatorship draws media yawns

After the absolute media frenzy surrounding the Texas Youth Commission's every foible over the last year, can anybody explain why there's been no MSM coverage of last week's recommendation to the Governor to end the agency's conservatorship and appoint a new executive commissioner? I expected to see coverage this weekend, but so far, nada. (The Abilene Reporter News had a TYC-related feature on Saturday, but didn't mention the recommendation and focused mostly on local and regional concerns.)

Perhaps it's because, like me, reporters haven't had time to thoroughly vet the 120-page reform plan (pdf) released by the conservator on Friday detailing the steps TYC has taken and should take toward ending its limbo status.

TYC's fundamental problems haven't changed much. Texas runs large youth prisons with hundreds of kids in the biggest facilities, mostly located in rural areas where it's difficult to find quality staff. Indeed, the shortage of quality workers for these large units is rapidly becoming critical. According to the reform plan (p. 7), even using extensive staff overtime TYC facilities are in compliance with minimum staffing requirements just 72.5% of the time. And as problems at large facilities get worse, it becomes harder and harder to recruit.

Juvie best practices aimed at reducing recidivism would use smaller, regional facilities like those recommended last year by the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel. However, those recommendations were largely ignored and the reform plan does not describe such a transformation, instead spending new construction funds to renovate current facilities to create cells instead of open bay dorms. That's an improvement from a staff and youth safety perspective, but it's a long way from the rehabilitative model really needed at the agency.

If this is all the reform we get out of the conservatorship process, it will have been a missed opportunity. One hopes the Sunset Commission will more radically reorganize the agency into smaller, regional facilities, and if I had my druthers the conservatorship should continue until that process was complete.

60 comments:

Ron in Houston said...

I honestly wonder if it's time to overthrow the government and start over.

If just seems that our government is incapable of fixing itself.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I have said that for years. It is goodbye TYC, We're sick and tired of your screwwups.

Whitsfoe said...

I hear what your saying about larger facilities in remote areas, but which ones are left and how do you define "large?"

The West Texas State School, no doubt is the most remote. It's population today is 88 of a budgeted 160, and at one time that place held 240. Is 88 large? It's smaller than the contracts we're offering in Eagle Lake, but we still need beds in that area to cover West Texas commitments, where many MHMR facilities/services do not exist nor can handle a "level 6" delinquent youth. Level 6 is as high as it gets as far as needs/treatment and security go.

Next we have VFCA, also somewhat remote, not a lot of commitments out of that area... was budgeted at 177 and today they are at 117 and going down below 100. It serves the WF area and communities in Ft. Worth and West. They still have that need just as WTSS does if we want to keep them closer to home.

Last, RIP Sheffield. It probably had no commitments from that area but my goodbyes really go to the over 8 million dollars that the ledge approved to expand that program. Pie in the sky decision on that one, but as they say... it was a political one - when Robin Hood died, so did the need for those fine folks in Sheffield Texas. We miss that place.

So what's left? Remote? I say no...

Gainesville - very close to DFW.

Brownwood - the girls gotta go somewhere otherwise we run a risk of breeding delinquents if we have a security lapse, and it's happened...Get them out as soon as possible closer to home in contract care facilities, but this population is unique and has unique needs, and many of these girls need ED treatment as well as being survivors of sexual abuse.I think ACLU already addressed us on their needs and we kinda need to get busy here.

Giddings - Austin, San Antonio, and a capital offender program that really needs to be brought back to life. Capital offenders move in and out of the program? I think that's a need.. Specialized treatment facility given it has a good draw of interests from UT? Don't know? But it's the flag ship, and it's not remote.

Corsicana: Dallas. It's not remote. It needs some repair, but I really don't see the orphans letting this one rest unless they've been laid to rest, and they'd be sad but it may in such a state of disrepair that it may have to be out-serviced, and that will break that community's heart. Many of ours as well. But Mart is right up the road.

Al Price - Houston's next Mart. Soon to be constructionally safe by single cells and not remote. Whitmire may have a dorm named after him here, if not the facility.

Mart I and II - not remote - very secure with facility adaptations needed to treat the worse behaved of the worst which they are doing now. They have received a Federal Violent Offender Grant to build the place, and unless somethings changed, that's why they get the most difficult population in the state, specialized for this short term need(?), ...next to .... Evins.

Evins - a very good example of why we don't need these facilities right in the back yard of a large community (the entire Valley). Too close to home, way too close to very negative adult gang members. A different kind of culture, and the staff that work there day in and day out and do a good job have courage beyond our belief. I respect those staff that hang on there.

So, we lost a total of about 900 beds, with the MAOU/SSSS/SBC closures, reduced populations at two "remote facilities," by two thirds in one and over a half in the other, contracted with San Antonio for a facility that would take younger kids and is smaller, and Eagle Lake which is in Whitmire's hood to take on more of what his judges are sending us to keeping them close to home.

So, where is the remoteness problem today? I really wished you guys had access to our population reports before you say we're still "remote." It reminds me of a response on the Wheel of Fortune when someone yelled out "Mashed Potatoes" when the answer was really "Scalloped Potatoes!" You gotta get all the clues!

It's just what I think may be happening based on the situation at hand and not the down-low.

Good reading your stuff again....:)

Whitsfoe

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whitsfoe, I'd argue that Corsicana, Gainesville, Brownwood, Al Price and Mart are all in places where their location makes it difficult to attract the staff they need, particularly folks with specialized skills. (Evins, of course, has its own world of problems, and I'm assuming WTSS and VF will probably be closed soon.) None of the TYC facilities except Evins are in any of Texas largest counties, and the big six all have much larger populations of kids than is productive.

The Missouri model the Blue Ribbon panel recommended TYC pursue emphasizes much smaller, regional facilities - 15-20 kids max. Changing from dorms to cells makes the prison environment more safe, but it doesn't transform a prison environment into one that promotes rehabilitation.

Whitsfoe said...

Oh hell, ok... I forgot Crockett: How could I forget Crockett where my buddies are... close to Houston, has the campus set-up of a classic RTC, and has Ole' Salty, one of the TYC's best to oversee it when he's ready. We've all read his insights, and have the ultimate respect for ole' Salty. My best- Whitsfoe

Anonymous said...

Call is a Conservatorship or a CoNextionship, the worst thing that can happen right now is Nedelkoff leaving. It's way premature.

Anonymous said...

I think the media has pretty much exhausted their resources in bringing about change at TYC. Whether or not they react to the conservator's report is probably not going to matter very much anyhow. What we have is a state government which has dug in its heels, and is refusing to make fundamental change. This is a typical pattern seen in Texas and other southern states when confronted with problems in their state programs. They appear to follow a basically conservative ideology of "hands-off" and "do as little as possible". There is also a heavy emphasis on biblical teachings of the sinfulness of those who go awry that leads to strong beliefs in a correctional approach (in spite of success in other areas of the country with rehabilitative models). Texas has a long reputation of fighting with the U.S. Supreme Court or anyone else advocating it change its criminal justice systems, schools, medicaid, or other public programs. And all this now in spite of the state receiving a windfall in taxes from the oil companies. To change something like this, requires more than the newspapers and the readers of "Grits" could possibly muster. I believe that the only thing that will change TYC is another court settlement such as "Morales v. Thurman" in the 1970's which faulted TYC on its neglectful programs and ordered them to make changes. The issue still remains very much one of neglect. In reading the conservator's report, I found a lack of concrete progress (or even proposals) for rehabilitative programs, and data on the status of youth violence, youth care and professional staffing, and recidivism. There is no doubt this data exists. If it were favorable to Nedlekoff and TYC, it would be on page one of the report. Its absence points to a cover up. The question remains as the true recidivism rate for TYC students, the number of vacancies for educational, psychology, substance abuse and sex offender professinals, and, most important, the incidence of youth violence at TYC institution and staff disciplinary referrals. With the hundreds of thousands spent on videocamers, law enforcement officers at all TYC facilities, and the supposed encouragement of reporting, has anything really changed? In other words, with all Nedlekoff has said about these and other improvements in safety, has anything actualy worked? And if so, how much? I am willing to bet that incidence of youth violence, substantiated grievances on staff, and the recidivism rates remain about the same (or a little worse)--and the figures are too shocking for Nedlekoff to reveal. His report appears to me to be another cover-up of problems at TYC such as initiated the reform efforts in Feb.2007 when newspapers uncovered a cover up of sexual abuse by top level management. It's time for outside intervention, and to stop pussy footing around giving more chances to a system that has repeatedly failed.

Anonymous said...

I for one would like to address the remote issue. If you live in Houston or San Antonio, how long does it take you to get to a dr. or dentist. VFCA is only 45 minutes by car and a whole lot shorter by helicopter (if needed in an emergency)for numerous hospitals in Wichita Falls. Wilbarger County has one of the lowest insurance rates for homes because we do not have a rural volunteer fire department. Our city fire department covers the entire county. We have three grocery stores (including a 24 hour Walmart), Braums, Subway, McDonalds, KFC, Sonic, 4 Allsups and a wonderful movie theatre that runs the newest releases. We have the latest incredible hulk movie now.
We also have two MHMR units within a 10 minute drive of which we could do inter-state agency contracts for mental health needs, dental and physicians.
Though we do not have the rat race and the traffic jams, we do not do without in our personal lives because of where we live, so the kids don't either.
For those of you rumor mongers who keep saying WTSS and VFCA are closing, need to put up or shut up. We are not going anywhere.

whitsfoe said...

I hear you Grits, but you know we are in Texas. It takes a lot of money to move towards that model in a state as large as ours, and historically, it's more likely than not that we'll do it slowly given (1) the economy, and (2), the conservative attitude in Texas.

The latter of which will no doubtful make an issue of this next session. Do you honestly think they'll fund TYC in this initiative? What does the history record over the past ten years? It's a hell'uva idea I support to no end, but look at the history. The history is tale-telling, and history often repeats its self - as do those elected.

I've been there in Dallas Texas, living there in a hot-bed of gang activity. Fresh Graduate from UT. Broke. Young. Not knowing any different - security? What was that?

I had no idea.

Some called it the hood. I called it home, as in Pleasant Grove, South East Dallas.

Pop shots from the left and right and left again shattered my windows often. I'm not going into detail about my experience as a Dallas County Juvenile "Case Monitor" - like a JCO except on the mean streets of Dallas, in particular the East and South, including Dixon Circle, where the 357 (357 - 'tre-five-seven' you know who) hung out. They used to say, "Always Trippin, always Crippin."

That experience woke me up. Dallas Texas would never again allow me to eventually raise my children in that area. My wife was four months pregnant when I promised her I'd leave Dallas County - the Grove. And I did. I wasn't afraid. I was pissed that Dallas County and all others never put adequate resources in place to address the issues facing these counties.

If they'd do it now, I may have better thoughts about it all, but they didn't earn my trust then so why now?

Good reading your stuff again and hope all is well,

Whitsfoe

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:11 - the fact that you've got a movie theater showing the Incredible Hulk doesn't solve the understaffing problems, and I doubt many folks from Wichita Falls want to drive to Vernon for work every day. I'm not sure your arguments adequately refute the concerns over locating TYC facilities away from urban centers.

The bottom line is that with high levels of overtime, minimum staffing is only met 72.5% of the time. The three contributing factors to that IMO are low pay, poor working conditions, and facility location.

Anonymous said...

Having worked with Ole Salty, I wholeheartedly agree. He is one of the unsung heroes that could have turned that campus around if given the chance.
ex-coworker

Anonymous said...

Grits, we are not having staffing problems at VF right now because we only have 115 kids. I remember when we had 348!

The sad thing is that 95% of the people I work with honestly believe we are going to be fine and that all is well. That is how I'd like to feel too, but I don't. To me it feels like a VERY slow, but inevitable death is taking place right now.

I will be there until the end because I happen to love working there. I only wish I knew when the end will be. I'm tired of wondering. It's been a year and a half since rumors began about our closure.

One thing for certain is (and this is where I lose my optimism) NO NEW BEGINNINGS are taking place. No reconstruction, no new cameras, no new computers and most of all NO NEW KIDS are entering the facility, but they are leaving every single day.

I wish the powers that be (who obviously already know what our fate is) would be kind enough to let us know what's going on. Most of us would stay until the end. Why can't they just tell us?

Anonymous said...

Having worked with Ole Salty, I wholeheartedly disagree. He can't find his a** with both hands. He talks a good game on this blog, but he could not manage the Campus, a dorm, or much less the youth grievances that come to his office. He just seems to be competent because the other person in the same position was SM, (the jokie from okie). Anyone would look like a genius compared to him. Ole Salty should have retired when he first mentioned it on this blog.

Anonymous said...

9:12 Make sure and tell the 95% that for sure they are shutting down Vernon. No one in CO cared to share that info. I'm sure Mr. Nedelkoff will announce it in one of his 5:00 on Friday e-mails soon.

Yall leave Salty alone, he feels important these days.

Anonymous said...

9:38

Why is it that your so sure? Care to explain?

Anonymous said...

Grits, do you think the lack of attention is because it really doesn't matter? That the sunset process will make an abundance of changes and the conservatorship issue will be addressed by the governor and legislature next spring? Could it be that Nedelkoff wants the Executive Commissioner slot which is more permanent.

The abundance of facilities are remote. I don't care what you say Whitsfoe. Gainsville, Crockett, Corsicana, Mart 1 and 2 (and by the way Wacko cannot support one if not two large juvenile institutions), Giddings (which is an hour from Austin and Travis County really doesn't send anymore kids to TYC, and Giddings has staffing issues even though it is an hour from both UT and A&M), none of these are close to large cities.

One of the major problems in TYC facilities is the lack of education of employees which is directly related to salary. The Missouri model requires higher levels of education.

Add the lack of equitable pay for other professional staff in TYC and you have what you have now.

Anonymous said...

I pray for the youth at CroK if Mr. Davis leaves. Well I guess I pray for them anyway.

But that's not what this post is about.

Focus ya'll.

Please

Anonymous said...

Sorry you brought it up. Davis should have left Crockett a long time ago. He is where he is at today because of the TYC buddy system. He's just another good ole boy that lacks the knowledge, skills, and ability to lead an effective program.

diogenes said...

Whitsfoe, please check your facts on WTSS. Our population as of this morning is 102. We are budgeted for 160 at the moment, but we are in the process of adjusting our budgeted total to approximately 100. We have never been at 88.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Diogenes we have never been to 88 in the years I have been at WTSS. We were told we are lowering the population to around 100 and expect to hover there. We have had 240 youth, after all we have 10 dorm with 24 to 30 beds on them for a total of 274 beds. Please check your facts.

From the reform plan, Victory field is left out on the plans to renovate the open bay dorms. (page 53) WTSS is also not mentioned, however we are looking at converting 2 dorms to offices.

I question why the Plan has Victory field and West Texas, scheduled for the Conextions training in June 2009. (page 40)This will leave us with out a program for another year. Don't act like the Transitional Treatment Program is anything. I still have the email where we were told to destroy all resocialization materials. (save the PR, BS, for the legislature, we in the trenches know better) There is no program. My solution is train in mass over a 1-2 month period (bring all case managers to Austin or Corsicana) and have this totaly in place by October 2008. The monitor and do the follow up corrections.

dirty harry said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...
"Whitsfoe, I'd argue that Corsicana, Gainesville, Brownwood, Al Price and Mart are all in places where their location makes it difficult to attract the staff they need, particularly folks with specialized skills."

I would argue that Al Price is in a booming and very populous location in SE Texas, and Mart is 40 miles east of Waco, and even closer to I45 north of Houston. Corsicana is just up the road from there.

However, I don't think the problem is availablity of applicants. The problem is, that when a good applicant with specialized skills does apply, they won't hire them!

On another note, word has it that head of education Bob Contreras is out, and Venita Farr is taking his place temporarily. Hopefully, they will make this a permanent replacement. In my opinion, the best move TYC has made since Needlekoff took over. This is the woman who should have been running education to start with.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'll agree with you on Al Price being near a growing population center (relatively). Mart and Corsicana, though, not so much.

I disagree the problem is TYC won't hire people who're available. They hire folks, but people leave once they've been on the job a short time because working conditions suck.

Which brings us to the point that location is just part of the problem. The bigger concern is the large size of the units and the resulting use of adult prison practices to maintain control. They're sticking with a model based on convenience and cost that's no good for the kids, staff or taxpayers, IMO anyway.

Anonymous said...

Good discussion but doesn't it all come back to $$. If you don't pay for quality staff, whether Conservator or JCO, they are not going to sign up or stay long...no matter the distance, conditions or lack of leadership.

Anonymous said...

If there were actual treatment programs in place and you could use the large facilities as proxies for the smaller communities (say, group the youth from Houston together and coordinate with local authorities) and communicate outcomes and expectations (which we do to the youth every day), maybe we could use the factory approach to make it work in spite of itself. At least in Mart you could draw on the talent pool in Waco (which is substantial, if not hidden) and come up with programs that would be effective. The oversight seems to be there (generally) as far as abuses are concerned. We just need some effective leadership out of Austin and coherent and meaningful support out of the legislature.

Anonymous said...

Well, I would think it best for the spotlight to remain on TYC. There is only paper change. I can guarantee the abuse is still there and the specialized treatment forums are not treatment and there are kids still in those places well past their MLOS and scoring the kids, the placement of the kids, the youngest offenders versus being housed with older kids, is all still happening. Nedelkoff needs to open his eyes and stop pushing paper and get out and visit the units. Hell, the legislature do...talk to the parents, review their paperwork and see what change is really happening....that's right. NOTHING BIG. Its still in paper form.

Anonymous said...

I would really like to volunteer as a mentor to work with these kids. I have been there and know the challenges faced in getting out and staying out. I was sent to tyc in the 70’s. I can’t say it was any better/worse back then, than it is today. After all it took a “land mark” case to get tyc to make the positive changes we see today. I have to say reading about today’s tyc in Grits is amusing. Back then it was common to have a single staff hold a dorm of 40 to 45 boys but the staff were respected/feared. Btw, Our dorms seemed nicer than the one pictured in the report.

Since my release from the Gatesville State School for Boys on 9/21/77, I have managed to learn a trade, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, married an amazing lady, raised two boys, one an Eagle Scout the other finishing up his double E at UTD, two daughters, one in high school and the other almost in jr high. My kids still come home for Friday night dinner. I have served in many community volunteer activities working with kids as well as on my synagogue board. I overcome tyc, I did not go to tdc, but became a successful productive citizen that raised a family of productive citizens. The phrase from today’s tyc “brake norms” comes to mind, I broke norms.

For the last year I have made inquiries about volunteering with delinquent youth. I have carved out volunteer time for this endeavor. So far I’m currently involved with a group in Denton county, Iron Guardians, and we attend the Impact Program in Denton county. This is a good program. We have plans to go to McFadden Ranch but this has not yet materialized. I think there is more I can do. So if any of you tyc experts on this blog have any advice on how I can mentor and perhaps help decrees the recidivism rate I’m all ears? I’m in Dallas and I don’t think Mart or the old girls school in Gainesville is too far. It’s not too far to potentially make a difference in a kids life. I’m appealing to the bloggers because I think I need to be networked in.
Sheldon tyc#47333
sschepps@oneononeitsolutions.com

Anonymous said...

Talk, talk, talk; have a few meetings; write a BS report and call it a day! The Conservator knows what the Sunset Commission is going to do to TYC, it was in the news media, and he is getting out of town while the getting is still good. The Texas politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about the TYC youth or employees! All they care about is how they can line their pockets and/or pick up a few hefty contributions at reelection time. Texas Government is the best government money can buy! Here comes the Sunset Commission; TYC – RIP!

Anonymous said...

Sheldon, as unfortuant as it is, if your committing offense was a felony, and you didn't seal your juvenile records it may be difficult if not impossible to have you volunteer, and that really sucks considering you're turn around.I'll need to check our policies on that now, and I'll e-mail you at your e-mail address, subjecting TYC volunteer.

Anonymous said...

Surprise Surprise Surprise - Crockett folks aint happy! We're all shocked. I guess most of you would be happy if Davis leaves, so you can keep walking all over poor Ms. Gibbs. She couldn't run that place if her life depended on it. Just hide in your office and keep smiling - that will fix the problems.

WF said...

Very good stuff on this string except a few who continue to trash talk their peers (or ex-peers).

You said "They're sticking with a model based on convenience and cost that's no good for the kids, staff or taxpayers, IMO anyway."

Now I ask, who are you referencing when you say "they?" Do you think it's TYC doing that our the ledge?

The way I see it, "they" meaning the ledge, and not TYC, are making that decision. I believe Nedlekoff also wants what the Blue Ribbon Panel recommended. The question is, will they fund it? It's no doubt a brilliant idea, but brilliant ideas cost money.

Placing kids inside the community, especially the big four (Dallas, Houston, Ft.Worth and San Antonio) cost a lot, not only in leases, but salaries. Do you think the state can afford to pay salaries for psychologist who average about 80-120 an hour in those big metropolises'? History says they won't. They often take a supermarket approach. You buy in bulk and you save money.

The whole point of my posting my Dallas experience was to show what a JCO might live like in that area. If we don't pay them more in the metropolises', then I doubt you'll get the quality of JCO's we have in outside "less-than-rural" communities unless they want to live like I did. I don't think many would. Just my thoughts.

(p.s. - the WTSS numbers were taking off the population report, and I did check that before I posted those numbers). -whitsfoe

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 6:58, Gibbs is another TDCJ placement by Pope and Humphreys and is a poor excuse for an Asst. Supt. But Davis on the other hand has years of TYC experience and should be more equipped to take control of the issues at Crockett, but he sits on his thumbs because he is scared to take on some of the problems.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Y'all, the conversations about your co-workers need to move somewhere else. They're counterproductive and have nothing to do with this post. Stop. Now. Thanks.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whitsfoe, by "they" I suppose I mean both the Lege and TYC. That was certainly true before Nedelkoff, and while I think he might like to do something more along the blue ribbon panel lines, he's simply never proposed that. I can only go by what's done publicly, you know?

WF said...

Oh I know. I know. We just don't know and we probably won't until 2009. That seems to be the reality these days. Until then, I'll sign off for a while (unless something else comes up of course). Night Grits - see you in '09. - Whitsfoe

Anonymous said...

High levels of overtime are a norm across TYC, not just in the remote areas.

Probably 75 to 80 % of all staff at VFCA drive in from Wichita Falls, Lawton Ok, Electra, Frederick, Ok; Quanah, Seymour, Altus Ok. and Crowell, Tx.
My point being that we are NOT remote, we are just a long drive from Austin or Houston. Every point in Texas is a long drive from another point in Texas. Do you call Lubbock remote? It is a long drive from Austin.

The pay scale is enough for JCOs that we staff begging to come back to work after they have quit and can't find work at their budget they adapted while working for the state. Soem stay have been hired back twice and three times.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The statement that units are "remote" references the fact that the vast majority of kids come from just five counties, which are also the big population areas where staff is most available.

You're right that Lubbock is not "remote," but there's no TYC unit in Lubbock. Pyote - that's remote. Corsicana? Considering they need folks with special skills for their mental health functions, damn remote. Mart's understaffing problems are palpable.

But again, it's not just location; facility size is the much bigger barrier to transforming to a rehabilitation model. And staffing.

Anonymous said...

Grits, the one factor that get left out of this discussion the local economy and unemployement rates of some of those large metropolitan areas.

Bryan-College Station was not a remote location yet Hamilton State School had a difficult time staffing the campus. Byran-College Station also had one of the lowest unemployement rates in the State of Texas...as low as 1.5%. Fact is why would I work at TYC in a emotionally stressful environment and possible risk serious injury when I can work for a similar wage and benefits at Sanderson Farms down the road.

The advantage TYC had in rural areas for the longest time is that they were either the only game in town or the pay and benefits were better than other forms of employement in the local area. Problem is TYC's institutional problems and managment behavior have soured many in the local communities on the facilities and employement opportunities.

Even Halfway Houses in many metropolitan areas have a difficult time staffing the facilities. Corrections is just not a place many persons want to work despite the growing field... too much stress for the level of compensation.

Smaller units are the way to go. No campus should have ever exceeded 200 students...

Anonymous said...

Whitsfoe: The population figure you used for WTSS happened to occur when 12 students were on "furlough" to VF for a basketball tournament (WTSS won, by the way). Our understanding is that WTSS is expected to be at about 100 and VF may get down to 96(apparently based on beds per dorm).
While we are discussing locations; WTSS is less than an hour from a Medical School (Texas Tech) affiliated medical center; with 100 students, we have a PhD psychologist, 2 associate psychs (all licensed); an LSSP, an LPC (supervisor certified) and an LCDC (supervisor certified). The psychs have over 60 years of experience among them, 2 of them have extensive MR experience, and one has extensive experience in drug counseling.
While I am on my rant, maybe Scott can explain why families from West of Interstate 35 should be expected to drive to East or South Texas to be with their children just because 5 counties have most of the commitments? After all, the smaller, more local facilities are not likely to be built first in El Paso, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa etc.
And, one last comment for Scott (sorry Whitsfoe): If regional is so good, why does Evins have 10 times the number of physical restraints per 100 students as does WTSS?

Anonymous said...

I haven't confirmed this, but it is my understanding that there have been several youth deaths possibly due to medical neglect, several escapes, and numerous youth/adults that were released under SB 103 that have victimized many citizens since the "reform", but there is very little, if any, media attention given to those situations. Why is there no attention to those incidents? Also, have none of the exTYC employees that were felons and admitted it on their applications and were hired and subsequently fired when they became at-will due to SB 103 filed civil suits against TYC? (seems like they would have a good case(s))What about some of the exTYC Administrators that were railroaded by Kimbrough/Owens/Pope, have they sued the State? Hell, taxpayers should sue Pope for blowing their tax dollars on office decor?

You are right, it has been "in like a lion out like a lamb", and I think that the media has been asked to back off or it just got so ridiculous that the media decided it would be a never ending trail to go down, so they turned around, took their pencils and pads, and went after some other story that has an ending.

If you look at the story, nothing has changed with TYC and their is no end in sight. That's one reason why Nedelkoff is bailing.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping to see some of those lawsuits filed by now. But I know of only one that seems to be challenging the change from for cause employee to at will employee. It is filed in the Eastern District and is on the internet. This will be an iteresting one to watch and I personally hope to see more.

Anonymous said...

I found the lawsuit filing. Grits, do you have a subscription to Pacer so we can get the details of the lawsuit??

Anonymous said...

I found it too, but how can the suit be filed on the at will policy? It is filed against the parent of a former TYC youth and TYC. Intersting. I would love to know the specifics. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but Bryan/College Station is not a metropolis. Brazos county only has 160,000 people and how many of those are University students and faculty? Hamilton was a huge facility with a poor population strategy.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but Bryan/College Station is not a metropolis. Brazos county only has 160,000 people and how many of those are University students and faculty? Hamilton was a huge facility with a poor population strategy.

Anonymous said...

When compared to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston no it isn't that large but it is on par with Waco, Lubbock, Corpus Christi, Amarillo, etc... it sure a po-dunk Pyote and is much larger than Brownwood... yes Hamilton was ill-conceived.

Anonymous said...

And God said "let there be light."

The "light" for TYC is the appreciation of its employees.

Treat the employees right, and kids WILL benefit.

A positive input equals a positive outcome.

dirty harry said...

On 7/15/2008 Grits said:
"I disagree the problem is TYC won't hire people who're available. They hire folks, but people leave once they've been on the job a short time because working conditions suck."

I would agree that once they do finally get employees that are worth a hoot, this does happen. A good employee will get tired of the conditions really fast, and if they are worth their salt, they won't have a problem getting a job elsewhere. This is why you still have a large collection of dead wood in TYC. They can't get a job making that kind of money anywhere else.

And, for the few good employees that remain, they are often short-changed on resources to work with, and are expected to spin gold out of straw. I commented earlier on Venita Farrs' appointment to head of education. This is the person that can do a fantastic job in this position. However, if they don't give her some resources to work with, there will be little she can accomplish.

Anonymous said...

It will be VERY interesting to see w hat happenes after theconservator resigns from his post on July 31st. That's only days from now. All hell could break loose OR miracles could happen.

Anonymous said...

Hate to be the pessimist, but all hell has been breaking loose since the "reform". I don't see anything getting better. But, I do believe in miracles.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter who gets appointed - if the lege doesn't give TYC the resources it needs to do the job, the job will not get done.

dirty harry said...

7/19/2008 04:34:00 PM said:
"Hate to be the pessimist, but all hell has been breaking loose since the "reform". I don't see anything getting better. But, I do believe in miracles."

I have seen a few improvements at unit level in some of the units, but I don't know if it is a result of the reform, or just coincidental. For instance, Contreras is gone as head of education, and maybe the eye-candy he hired to work under him will follow him out the door. Farr, who has been moved to temporarily replace him, is the one who should have had this job to begin with. Unfortunately, they have only allowed her to have one staff member to help her with the monumental task of rebuilding education, and applying the new RTI programs. Also, it looks as though they finally hired a cracker-jack principal at Al Price who has previous experience running alternative schools for HISD. Both Farr and the new principal know they have some dead wood to unload in the ranks before things can start operating as they should. But, I understand that TYC policy isn't going to allow them to send anyone packing anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean they can't send them packing soon? Isn't that what we've been doing for the last 18 months? Even with little or no justification.
At will, at will, at will - that's what has been crammed down our throats for the last year.

dirty harry said...

7/21/2008 02:46:00 PM said:
"What do you mean they can't send them packing soon? Isn't that what we've been doing for the last 18 months? Even with little or no justification.
At will, at will, at will - that's what has been crammed down our throats for the last year."

This may be true at certain levels, but I have heard on good authority that there are still a few certain individuals at unit level under the ranks of these two new administrators that need to go. (Their shennanigans have even caught the attention of the folks in Austin.) However, it appears these new administrators don't have the power to give them the boot. At least, not yet.

Anonymous said...

The media's "big yawn" is because they didn't find the buried bones they expected to find. Once the wave of hysteria subsided, it became clear that TYC's problems are not caused by and large by crooks, pedophiles, and cover-ups but by politicians with underfunded and unreasonable expectations. They are bored with all of it.

Anonymous said...

Amen 7:21. When's THAT story coming out? I now think we remain under conservatorship to sell papers. They (probation) are complaining that they can't place a multi-failure MSD. commit. Now, they are starting to felonize them all. We called it right here.

Nice reform Whitmire. The facts are already "ball-forming," and you're in the face-pins to the balls once the session begins, and I think you might have some serious opposition here pretty quick. Good luck. And frankly, John Whitmire, YOU need to go.

What an Ass -

Rebecca Chincey

Anonymous said...

didn't realize the media has to be the driving force behind changes in government. maybe bloggers can fill in where the media slacks?

Anonymous said...

Well, Thursday's the big day...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's the MLB trade deadline! I wonder if Manny will be traded? Let's keep things in perspective...

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