How long for TYC conservatorship?
First off ("Texas Youth Commission will lose another top official," July 31), TYC is about to lose their 6th top official in two years when conservator Richard Nedelkoff leaves the agency:
Gov. Rick Perry is expected to name a new agency chief — either an executive commissioner, as Mr. Nedelkoff recommends, or a new conservator — this month. A spokesman in Mr. Perry’s office said the governor had not yet decided which position it should be or who should fill it. Mr. Nedelkoff said he’s not setting a timeline for leaving, but acknowledged it could be the end of August.Nedelkoff had recommended to the Governor that conservatorship end yesterday on July 31 and a permanent Commissioner be hired. His predecessor as conservator, Ed Owens, also recommended ending conservatorship last year, but the agency clearly hadn't finished the required reforms. As evidenced by the report on education put out by the Ombudsman this week, there are still many problems to address.
That said, it's unclear to me, however, that a conservator would have any greater power to fix problems than would a permanent commissioner. I expect changes required by the Sunset Commission will have more impact on the direction of reforms than who's leading the agency or what is their title.
I spoke to Nedelkoff earlier this week and he told me that he'd not heard back from the Governor on the recommendation, but also said he'd not completed all the requisite tasks the report said must be finished before conservatorship could end. (The News reports Nedelkoff said those reforms are "days or hours" away from being finished.) He said he understood possible permanent replacements had been identified and interviews had already begun.
TYC topped national list for sexual assault in '05, '06
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department yesterday issued a report analyzing data (pdf) on sexual assaults in juvenile detention facilities that placed TYC at the top of the list nationally in confirmed incidents for 2005 and 2006 ("Texas juvenile prisons led nation in sexual violence," July 31):
A survey by the U.S. Department of Justice found that Texas juvenile prisons led the nation in incidents of sexual violence during 2005 and 2006.A few long-timers at TYC have taken the position in comments on this blog that allegations of sexual assault at the agency were overblown by the media last year and didn't really happen despite all evidence to the contrary. If the mountains of media investigation didn't convince such folks, I doubt this information will either. But for the rest of us it's pretty clear confirmation that Texas DID have a sexual assault problem before entering conservatorship. I don't support everything that's been done since then in the name of cleaning up the mess, but these data put the lie to claims that there wasn't a problem with kids in custody being victimized, both by staff and other youth.
The department's Bureau of Justice Statistics cautioned that the survey was "not designed to rank systems" but provides "an understanding of what corrections officials know [and] what information is recorded."
The survey was released Thursday. It said Texas reported 21 substantiated allegations of staff sexual misconduct with youths in 2005 and 2006. No other state reported more than nine.
Also, Texas reported 26 substantiated allegations of "youth on youth nonconsensual sexual acts." The next highest was Wisconsin, with nine.
Texas accounted for 29 percent of such substantiated allegations nationwide, though the state's share of youth incarcerated was only 11 percent of the national total.