Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A closer look at the 'Missouri model' for juvie corrections

During the height of last year's debates over what should happen at the Texas Youth Commission, the state of the art best practices legislators were most often encouraged to follow - including by a "blue ribbon commission" appointed by the Governor - came from the "Missouri model," which was used as a catch phrase to describe a range of reforms that generally promoted smaller facilities and more therapeutic, less prison-like approaches.

Since that time reforms in Texas have moved a long way from the Missouri model, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch offered a story to at least remind us of what Texas should be aiming for ("Missouri leads nation in juvenile justice reform," Sept. 13). The approach at first blush sounds like it would be criticized reflexively as "soft on crime," except that it achieves anti-recidivism results that won over even the most hard-nosed cynics in Missouri. Reports the Post-Dispatch, tracking the story of a single inmate:
Instead of being imprisoned like a criminal, he became a kid again.

Instead of cell bars and handcuffs, he was given a tidy dorm room, stuffed animals and even a pet turtle. Instead of shame, he was given group therapy, school work, job training and a support group of 10 peers led by a therapist — not a prison guard.

It is that approach to juvenile delinquency, dubbed the "Missouri Model," that garnered the Missouri Division of Youth Services last week the 2008 Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System of Reform. The award, administered by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, comes with a $100,000 prize to promote the model.

Judges commended the program for its staying power, its current push to link its programs with community advisory boards and its growing influence on juvenile justice nationwide.

So far, Missouri has hosted visitors from 30 states seeking to overhaul juvenile systems in which recidivism and suicide rates are high, and where youths are often written off as hardened criminals.
It took political courage, initially, to launch the Missouri program, but now that it's been in place for a while, the numbers tell the tale: Their recidivism rates were just 8% over three years compared with 30% in Maryland, which has a similar sentencing scheme and more traditional youth prisons like Texas.

TYC is at least lurching toward smaller facilities, to some extent, but not as small as the ones in Missouri, except for a few halfway houses, and not with the same therapeutic approach. And if TYC caseloads increase, the pressure to revert to larger facilities to warehouse delinquent youth could become overwhelming.

All this to say, the Missouri model may be too lofty a goal for Texas to reasonably strive for in the current environment, but reading this Post-Dispatch story will at least give readers a sense of what Texas' best experts (pdf) told the Lege they should be shooting for during the 80th Legislature, whether or not it's achievable.

132 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's worth noting, Grits, that what happened in Missouri did not arise initially from its legislature. It was driven by reformers working in the existing system, then gained support from lawmakers and officials.

However, there's no reason for that to be the case now.

BB

Anonymous said...

No goal to improve Texas TYC is too lofty. Legislators accross the State can embrace reforms that all Texans can be proud of.

Our children deserve our very best!

Anonymous said...

The 2008 Texas Democratic Party platform says, "the state should consider TYC reforms based on the
“Missouri model,” which emphasizes preventive measures, education and training, parental involvement, treatment for drug abuse and mental health problems and housing troubled juveniles closer to home in community-based settings instead of large, remote, TYC prisons."

I hope Texas Democrats pick up the five seats they need to take control of the House.

Anonymous said...

Good to know the Texas Dems have that in their platform.

BB

Anonymous said...

LOL.... Texas' best experts is not the case there Grits but the report isn't too bad. You want Texas to embrace these ideas, you have to really have Texas' best experts come together to do this.

There are a whole lot of differences between Missouri and Texas but some things could probably be implemented that would make for a better system.

TYC has got to be repaired before you put in any major overhauls to the entire system.

Anonymous said...

The Missouri model may be effective, maybe. There will be some serious problems though. The kids will be closer to the environment that helped create the problem to begin with. The parents and friends will have fun intimidating the staff. The public will not be well protected from some dangerous criminals.
Another thing, though I hope it's true, I have a hard time buying 8%.
I wish someone would have a hard look at the stats.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear what a post here says about the Dem. party platform. If I am not mistaken, that's the very proposal that originated here on Grits. I got it passed in my precinct but lost track beyond that. Nice work Grits!

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

I can understand the appeal of this model and it is totally doable in Texas. However everyone in Texas seems to think that the kids in TYC are little hoods that might have stolen a skateboard or something to that effect. However the truth is their are murders, gangsters, rapists, child molesters, robbers and every other sort of criminal that you would find in TDCJ. I believe that this should be implemented, but I think that their still should be consequences if the youth will not work with the program. As TYC stands now, with the abolition of the Aggression Management Program, TYC administrators no longer have the option of locking up youths that prey on other youths. So predation of all sorts has gone up in TYC which are youths perpetrated by youths. Predation of staff members by youths has also gone up due to TYC's unwillingness to come up with a sensable use of force policy. That way every time an officer has to use force they can be written up for not going in accordance with policy and no TYC leader has to take the blame for bad use of force tactics. So officers constantly have to allow youths to basically beat them up or be disciplined. As it stands now, I do not know why any correctional officer would want to work in such an environment. This is the real reason that TYC is the workman's compensation capital of Texas.

I also know that some people say that, "Well, if a kid assaults a staff member we just have OIG file charges against them and it will all be okay..."

1. If a child is under the age of 17 they can only be given more time in TYC until they are 19 years of age unless they are certified as an adult which is what TYC prosecutors are trying to do on assault cases. If kids are already 17 they can just be sent to prison.

2. This is passing the buck and making the kid a life time criminal. If they go to prison almost all hope is lost for them becoming respectable citizens.

3. OIG is so backlogged that they would need six times the Criminal Investigators that they have now to ever actually prosecute the kids that are routinely attacking public servants such as Teachers, Psychologists, Juvenile Corrections Officers, et cetera. So there is no real accountability for the actions of these kids.

4. ACLU type policies now permeate TYC and now everything that kids have is treated as a RIGHT. So a kid can commit crimes and they can still get all of their privileges back in a few days. Juvenile Correctional Officers are actually told not to write kids up so that the kid can get out on time so that if they are over the age of 17 they will become someone else's problem like the youth that just murdered someone in Waco last week.

My point is that I would like to see kids rehabilitated. However Texas must put public safety FIRST, and the comforts of the youths SECOND. TYC must also protect its staff by developing a use of force plan that actually works and will protect the rights of the officer and the youth. As it stands, the officers are expendable.

Texas has to come to the realization that there are kids that can be saved and there are kids that can't be saved. This is the reality these days.

Reward the kids that are trying to take advantage of the second chance that TYC gives them and lock up the ones that prey on staff members and kids alike. You can't put a wolf in a chicken's nest and expect that the chickens will be safe.

Anonymous said...

2:19 said "Our children deserve our very best!" That's very altruistic, but not entirely true. Most of the TYC population deserve to be treated with the same contempt they treated their victims. We need to reform TYC to give the taxpayers what they deserve, which is a program that will help reform these children so they will stop victimizing others. If Texas will invest in these "best practices" then the long term gain will be worth it. Most of our tax money should be spent on education for the young people that actually do deserve the best, but we are going to have to bite the bullet and spend it on those who don't deserve it for our own long term protection. Will this benefit the TYC "children?" Yes, but not because they deserve it, but because the tax-payers deserve it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The hyperbolic comment at 7:34 shows why entrenched attitudes at the agency more than legislative will is the biggest barrier to implementing the Missouri model.

Anonymous said...

I agree, but I would guess that 7:34 is some upper level CO or regional Administrator posing as a JCO. Maybe Whitmire is on target by closing down TYC and starting a new Agency with ALL new employees possibly using the "mIssouri model"?

Anonymous said...

7:34 does make some valid points that you reformers want to skate past. Things don't need to be either/or. Before any program can be run, you need discipline and control. Also needed is safety of kids AND staff. Only when those four elements are present can you proceed with education and the rehabilitation program.

As ol' Dr. George Beto once said: "the history of corrections is the history of movement - movement from one undocumented fad to another."

Anonymous said...

6:22, the taxpayers in Missouri seem to be quite happy with what they are getting. When conservatives like David Limbaugh and John Ashcroft view your program as cost-effective, then I think it's hard to call it anything other than a success.

7:34, the article's whole point is that rehabilitation and public safety aren't mutually exclusive. Any system that fails to rehabilitate the majority of its youth is also failing to protect the public, because, as Grits likes to point out, most of the youth will be released at some point.

Clearly something is going right in Missouri. Rather than look for every excuse not to take it seriously ("Missouri is different than Texas" e.g.), maybe we should look for ways to adapt their model to Texas.

By the way, for what its worth, practically every aspect of TYC was copied from other states. In fact, it's almost an article of faith in the human services and corrections fields that success is copied by others because the fields are so tough.

That so many people here, from staff to legislators, simply refuse to even consider doing so in this case, suggests that they are clinging to a failed status quo for reasons that I can only guess at.

BB

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"7:34 does make some valid points "

Perhaps, but they're intermingled with a crappy attitude and hyperbolic overstatement combined with fact-free assertions backed up with no evidence. That makes it difficult to "separate the wheat from the chaff."

As for the George Beto quote, the world has changed since his day. Today there's a body of research regarding what works in criminal justice, particularly for juveniles, that simply didn't exist 30-40 years ago. The Missouri model is hardly an "untested fad." The world has passed that observation by, especially in the juvie arena. Try to catch up!

Anonymous said...

7:34 does make some valid points and life in general is hyperbolic according to the sages.
The Missouri model looks incredible and at the same time we need the old Texas model for the career criminal. I have said on this blog we need something like Turmans Mountain View back on line to handle the hard cases but the balance will come with a Missouri model to handle the rehabilitative cases. It’s not either or, it’s a balance like our two political parties who keep our peoples government balanced.

What truly is TYC recidivism? TYC’s 100+ year old policy to keep a kid till their 17 so they don’t come back and effect TYC’s recidivism rate, IMO, gives erroneous values for TYC’s recidivism rate. If the former TYC kid goes to a prison system he’s not coming back to TYC so his return to the prison system is not part of TYC’s calculated recidivism values. TYC stilled failed the kid, yet because of the age loop hole sort of speak, that failure is not reflected in TYC’s recidivism rate.

Back in the 70’s Clemens Unit housed ex TYC kids so it was a good place for TDCJ to host the youthful offender program. There’s the Mountain View alternative for the hard cases. Kids need to be kids, but those that are grown, even at 14, well farm life is the life for them.

So any guess’s on what truly is TYC recidivism?

Sheldon, TYC#47333

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sheldon, I think TYC's three year recidivism rate is around 50%. That's from memory but I think I've heard that in legislative testimony. (FWIW, it's only 28.3% in the adult system.)

Given that, why do you think "we need the old Texas model for the career criminal"? After all, Missouri's recidivism rate is six times lower.

Besides, how many teens of any stripe have a "career," much less can be categorized as "career criminals"? Personally, I'm about to turn 42 and am on what I consider my 3rd career as an adult. That phrase doesn't mean as much as it used to, and particularly not in the context of teenagers.

There's plenty of time to give up on these kids if and when they get to TDCJ. It's not TYC's job to decide who can be "saved" or who "deserves" services, as other commenters have inferred.

To 7:30 - I'm beginning to agree with you that Whitmire's close-it-all-down approach looks better and better as it becomes clear how difficult it is to reform an agency whose rank and file don't understand or want any change. But the LBB information on rising caseloads makes me think that'll be even harder to accomplish than has been previously understood. I'm more willing to consider the idea now, though, than I was 6-7 months ago.

Though he's done a lot less damage than his predecessor, I'd hoped for a lot more from Nedelkoff's conservatorship.

whitsfoe said...

Easy Grits. That commentor doesn't represent us all. I think we're heading in a different direction in that overall, our populations are way, way down. I like the idea out there that kids don't have to do all their minimum length of stay all in a high restriction facility, or even have to wait until half of that minimum is done. I see kids who never have an incident report the entire time they've been in that are excellent candidates for a step-down facility, and I think having a system with step-down facilities will help change the overall culture in some of these institutions. On the other hand, I also some pretty violent youngsters that are absent of any mental health problems that just need high levels of security. They eventually get it and chill out (some actually never do though), and transition on. But I think the number of these "holdouts" will drop when they see others moving on while they stay.

Maybe some of these people who are making these comments have only worked in TYC high restriction facilities and haven't seen or worked in programs that are less restrictive, so they may not know how they actually work? I don't know? But I have, and I know this idea will work for those kids who work their program. Peace.

Anonymous said...

On "fads," the reason TYC is in its current fix is because of the get-tough "fad" of the 1990s. That worked out really well.

The Missouri model's been around since the 1970s. Many of its features have been known since the 1940s. We have plenty of hard evidence about what works. Not a "fad."

By contrast, some people here want to bring back the glory days of Mountain View and George Beto. Let me pick my jaw up off the floor for a second. What's next, "bring back the good old days when we could just beat them, spray them with Mace at point blank range, and work them in the fields for 10 hours a day?"

Interestingly, the reason Mountain View got closed down was b/c it had borrowed far too much of its program from TDC - George Beto's TDC. Some people had the crazy idea that programs that worked in adult prisons didn't work for juveniles.

So which one is the "fad" based on no evidence of success?

The history of juvenile justice is littered with faddish, usually mindless, get-tough crackdowns that have accomplished little beyond increased incarceration, high recidivism rates, and dollars drained from state coffers.

And yet despite these failures, it is the proponents of evidence-based rehabilitation that have to scale mountains.

It feels like arguing with a cultist, a creationist, or a Stalinist. Facts don't really matter, it's all about ideology.

BB

Anonymous said...

UTMB is in full recovery mode. Non-essential employees cannot return to UTMB or Galveston at this time. All UTMB campus activities and events are postponed until further notice. We will continue to provide key information every day. Updates are not conforming to a predictable schedule.

Anonymous said...

The juvenile justice system has to have balance to be effective. You can't be all "get tough" without rehab and you can't have all rehab with no "get tough".

When you work with kids in any field (education, corrections, etc.), there are times to be a good listener and there are times to be a tough disciplinarian. The people who do it best know when to play which role and can switch back and forth when appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy 8%! If there is one thing that can be manipulated, its statistics.

A TPA publication just released a study. The study states that if a probationers behavior is scrutinized, that will result in more violations, therefore, more revocations. I can't believe they needed a study to come to that conclussion.

If there is one thing that I have learned in the probation field its "you don't have to be successful, just appear successful."

It is all about recidivism. At the end of the day, thats what legislators want to see. If recidivism is down, we must be doing something right. That is not always true. Sometimes a probationers success is based on the probation officers willing to overlook non-compliance.

I think people need to get a copy of the Family Code and review the Juvenile Justice Code. It is not all about rehabilitation.

Anonymous said...

above..... well put !!!!

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Comparing TYC and TDCJ recidivism rates is like comparing apples and zebras. TYC has historically had the top 3% of the hardest, toughest offenders in the system. TDCJ has what - the top 60%. And before you compare other state's juvenile rates, the definitions need to be the same. TYC definitions are the strictest in the nation so Missouri numbers are not apples to apples.

As a post script, I would be surprised if the current TYC re-arrest rate is within 30 points of what it was before the reform. I would bet it is near 80 %.

Howard A. Hickman

BDwaco said...

I'd like to see you give stuffed animals and pet turtles to the youths I work with at Mart II everyday.

Anonymous said...

Honest question - how does Missouri define recidivism?

That's what we need to know to give the "8%" statistic any meaning.

Anonymous said...

whitsfoe: "I also some pretty violent youngsters that are absent of any mental health problems"

That's an interesting statement. So you wouldn't question the mental health of people who are inherently violent?

To bdwaco: I've worked with your Mart II kids. I get where you're coming from, but you might be surprised how some of those kids respond to a stuffed animal when nobody's watching. Just as much as you might scoff at a counselor not realizing how awful a kid acts in the dorm when the counselor's not watching, counselors are chagrined at the failure to recognize that many of these kids are hurting.

Anonymous said...

You know, I just saw this comment and it really rings of truth in high restriction programs:

"When you work with kids in any field (education, corrections, etc.), there are times to be a good listener and there are times to be a tough disciplinarian. The people who do it best know when to play which role and can switch back and forth when appropriate."

That's exactly true. However, I still think we need to move them to a less restrictive placement when the staff in high restriction programs are wearing that good listener hat, and if they can't handle it in a step-down facility (as whitsfoe puts it) and start acting out violently or foolishly, then they need to be sent back up to high restriction. That new assessments.com says these kids will relapse. We can expect it, and we can deal with that as well. The key is recognizing it before it escalates to the point where someone could be harmed if there are no interventions.

whitsfoe said...

8:23 - I don't disagree with you. You know I've always been suspect of those who say the boy or girl is not mentally impaired when the facts kind of paint a different picture, and after being in this agency for as long I have, I still don't quit understand it.

What many kids do in those institutions is not "normal." But then you have to factor in the overall culture of the campus, the milieu, the entire milieu, and that not only includes how kids behave, but how staff are doing working in that environment and how they behave as well - from a JCO I to a Superintendent. And then, you have to access what CO is doing to address it all, and well, the buck stops there. It always has, and it always will, as it should - be prudent amongst CO administrators to address these problems with "evidenced based" results if you will. Thanks for calling that out.

(ps. the step down program idea existed WELL before conservatorship. And so...)

Anonymous said...

TYC is a mess! Just close her down and move on to something new. There are some things that cannot be fixed, only replaced. TYC was fixable when all the politicians decided they knew how to fix the agency. TYC is considering 12 hour shifts in an effort to provide required coverage. TYC is not fully staffed and things are not good inside of TYC. Educational staff are leaving and there are still many JCO slots open not to mention the high number of TYC staff members on medical leave. If you believe the same old lies from TYC CO then you might be interested is a large block of swamp land I have for sale. Many of the people who cared about the agency have been fired or run off so you don't hear much inside information these days. You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear even if it is wearing lip stick!

Anonymous said...

This line from the article seems relevant regarding the 8% recidivist stat:

"It is difficult to compare recidivism rates from Missouri's therapeutic model with those in states with more traditional corrections models because juvenile court rules differ. Missouri sends 17-year-olds to adult courts and allows judges to certify younger offenders as adults. That, some argue, skews recidivism rates in Missouri's favor by weeding out the most difficult juveniles."

OK, so it's highly likely that the program isn't treating murderers or hardcore bangers. So what? What if a version of the program were used in TX at an earlier stage in a youth's career, say, after the first serious offense?

Also, I think there are reasons to believe that the 8% stat isn't grossly inflated (although I agree that 8% sounds too good to be true on its face). First, they repeatedly put that stat in a 3-year window.

Second, I'd suggest that if the stat were grossly inflated, the press, politicians, experts, someone would be all over it, as has been the case in the past.

Here's a novel idea for TYC to consider: why not do what 30 other states have done, according to the article, and visit Missouri to see the program first hand. In fact, bring a couple of key legislators along too.

I know it's crazy to suggest actually examining a program before dismissing it. Evidence, the last refuge of the wild-eyed utopian.

BB

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

Well I never thought that my comment would stir up so much controversy, but suffice to say, my job is to investigate certain things that occur in TYC. Yes I am privy to some sensitive information but it does not take a person in my position to tell anyone this. Any line Juvenile Correctional Officer can tell you the same things that I have said.

My comments were not "hyperbolic" as one certain individual said and that is unfortunately one of the most difficult battles that TYC faces other than its internal wars is that the public has no idea what TYC does or what actually happens in TYC. This is ignorance, people don't know what happens when a person is locked up and they don't want to know. "Just get this kid out of my community" is the normal outcry.

To tell you the truth, I don't really care at this point. If TYC is dissolved into local county agencies my job will be safe and if it isn't a person with my skills can easily find another job.

First of all, it must be understood that I believe that TYC staff should be held accountable for criminal activity and actual abuse. That being said, the staff are being held accountable everyday. Staff members are routinely fired due to the fact that Texas does not care enough to give correctional officers good training nor equitable pay. So GED or recent high school graduates are applying to TYC jobs in droves and many are fired just as quickly.

Why you ask? Background checks performed only check criminal activity. So if a person has not been convicted of anything they can work at TYC. Even if they have been placed on deferred adjudication for several felonies they can work in TYC. No comprehensive background check occurs like the one I had when I obtained my current position. An investigator spoke to my neighbors, checked my credit history, looked at my job history, called my previous employers, et cetera.

If you want to know the God's Honest truth, the government in Texas does not care enough about these kids to put any sort of real sweeping reform in place. I mean in California every state correctional officer is a sworn peace officer with actual training in legal matters, reasonable force, and realistic self defense and restraint techniques. At least California does comprehensive background checks just like most State Police Agencies.

I honestly believe that TYC can help kids get back on track. But we have to protect the kids that are trying to work the programs that we are offering. If we cannot lock up the predators or punish bad behavior, we are not able to reward good behavior because everyone has the same privileges basically or can recover them quickly even if they do act out negatively, or criminally, or violently.

So you can say that I am exaggerating or the lovely word that a certain individual used (I think it was "hyperbolic"). I can tell you this, I know what I know and I am an outsider looking in and I can guarantee you these are the facts laid bare before Texas and the world. The question is, who among you will listen?

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

Oh and Grits, it can be plainly seen that it is you not I that has the crappy attitude. If you worked in an actual correctional environment or at least visited a facility I could at least respect your opinion but at this point I don't. Grow up kiddo.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Separate, you've said your piece and every regular reader of TYC comment strings has seen the same spiel a hundred times before. Everyone agrees TYC should protect the kids. So what? Repeating it over and over becomes boring when the complaint is only used to oppose reform, never to suggest solutions.

You've contributed nothing here but whining cynicism. You suggest no alternatives beyond somehow, abstractly, showing the kids who's boss by getting tuffer. It's been tried; it got us where we are. As another commenter mentioned, the mid-90s get tough fad is behind us. It's past time for folks who think like you do get lost and let others run the show.

Finally, if you've lost all respect for me, by all means don't come back. I promise I won't miss you when you're gone.

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating to go back and read committee reports to the legislators regarding our state juvenile correction facilities prior to Morales vs. Turman. The Gatesville State School for Boys was totally self sufficient, actually made money some years. Not too much trouble from the kids. They kept them segregated by race to reduce the fights, as well as age, trained them in useful trades of the day, and really made an impact on the mind of a kid NOT to return, very low recidivism rate. Post Morales vs. Turman, there is a substantial amount of data regarding the rise of youth crime, youth gangs both inside and outside the correctional system. Even our Texas public education system has been labeled a pipeline to youth prison. There were things that were done prior to Morales vs. Turman that were necessary to keep the peace. I think there are things we can learn from our history, to do and not to do, as well as incorporate new proven methodologies. It was very sobering upon arriving at the Reception Center to GSSB and read or have read to you the welcome sign, You are here because your neighborhood don’t want you. The unwritten line beneath could have read Let the mind f^%king begin. When the Reception center was closed at GSSB it was common to see a kid role in from Brownwood, refer to a JCO as Papa, and get his head busted open. The lesson was learned quickly the JCO’s name is Sir, said very respectfully.
I’m looking forward to reading Dr Bush’s book on the history of my old haunted Alma Mata. I wonder what the count is of the state boys who never left?
Sheldon TYC#47333

Anonymous said...

I have been to the missouri web site. www.dss.mo.gov/dys
They have several neat things going for them and I would request everyone look at thir FAQ and read the program hand out. there are stats as well. my comment: They do alot of in home and community based treatments. They have 3 levels with the DYS Division of Youth services. Including high restriction like where I work. They keep youth till 18 with an option of going to the court and extending that to 21. They also have a Dual Jurisdiction program where the youth is also a sentenced offender (texas term). I was able to find a 2003 internet source on "Missouri Juvenile Justice 10" said the "Individual placement varies but likely to range from 3 to 5 years." I was unable to confirm from the official web site. So someone see if you can confirm this. If I have 3 years to work with a semi motivated youth, I do belive I can help him make changes. As it stands today the youth don't have any motivation to work after all i'm leaving on my mlos. I was surprised they still take misdeamenor youth and have open bays at the secure care facilities. (programs and services booklet).
ham2mtr

Anonymous said...

I undertsand the need for rehabilitation and the "get tough" approach - I mean youth can't make true treatment gains when a youth does not feel safe, we need tools (consequences) for non compliant youth.If a youth knows he can do ANYTHING and still leave on his MLOS then that is exactly what he will do - ANYTHING. For example (witnessed this week)
A youth got restrained, cursed staff, threatened staff, kicked a staff and the Asst. Superintendet released him from security 10 minutes later. The honest truth progressive discipline works with youth - campuses are out of control - if you do not believe it - do an unannounced visit to any campus. Morale is low because staff know kids will get their way every time and flaunt it in staff's face every chance they get. Even other youth ask our staff on a daily basis "why can't youjust get tough with the knuckle heads and reward us that do comply?" How do you answer that question How do you tell a youth who is doing well in the program and how do you convince him to keep doing well when he sees problem youth assault staff, curse staff, run around campus and still leave on their MLOS? Our population is vulnerable and when they see this going on they think "well I might as well do that too" - ugly but the truth - I hope the new ED reads this entry.

BDwaco said...

To 9/17 8:23;

I agree that the youth act differently around their caseworkers or therapists than they do around JCO staff. It's because they know who they need to manipulate to work the program. I am a JCO IV in Mart, and I've had caseworkers go in behind me, into the youths behavior logs and deliberately change my entries and forge my signature to them. I've had caseworkers "intercept" catagory I 225's that I've written on youth for assaulting other youth, and rewrite it so that it's no longer Assault. The youth know who to manipulate, and when to manipulate them.

I sent a youth to security last week for falling in a cell with another boy, and severely injuring him. He continued smashing the other youths head in the corner and against the steel bed rails even as I was trying to separate and restrain him. I finally ended up picking them BOTH up (One youth was 16, the other is 20. OH YES! We still have some 20 year olds with us) and restraining them both, together. I want you to know that BOTH these boys were back on the dorm in less than one hour, before I could even complete all the incident reports, because the caseworker decided that it couldn't actually be assault because no punches were thrown.

I don't see how stuffed animals and pet turtles would be appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Grits, are you implying that the get tough approach does not work? I totally disagree with you in that respect.

The problem is, we tend to paint juvenile offenders with a broad brush. Every kid is different so each approach in dealing with a kid must be centered around what that kid needs. Some kids need counseling, some need immediate consequences.

There must be a balanced approached between getting tough and rehabilitation.

My concern is that getting tough 100% of time was ineffective so now there is a big push for rehabilitation while ignoring consequences.

If we focus only on rehabilitation, 10 years from now people will be demanding that we get tough on juvenile offenders.

There must be a blanced approach and we should keep in mind that probation should not be a pleasant experience.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Grits, are you implying that the get tough approach does not work?"

By "getting tough" most anoymous commenter on this blog seem to mean beating kids up and heaping more punishments on them every time they talk back. To the extent that "works" it's to the same extent it "works" to keep your dog chained up on a three foot leash and beat it instead of training it. To judge by TYC's recidivism rate, the "tuff" strategy is about as succesful as the chain-it-to-the-tree method of dog training.

I would support ACTUALLY getting tough, which would mean creating a system focused on teaching the kid to live up to their responsibilities. However, that's not what's meant AT ALL by frontline TYC staff who comment in the safety first vein. They're mad because they don't get to beat the crap out of kids like they did under Dwight Harris or pepper spray them like under Dimitria Pope. That's really all this is about when you get down to brass tax, there's never any concrete proposal put out by the tuffer-than-thou afficianados.

Anonymous said...

Wow Grits, that's pretty harsh. No doubt TYC has had and still has some staff who are abusive and unhappy because they cannot be as punitive with youth as they might like. But I think it is unfair to label all of the staff that way who complain about safety issues and a lack of consequences for youth who are seriously disruptive and assaultive. I've been there. Even as a relatively insulated Director Clinical Services and Superintendent, I still saw how abusive youth can be toward staff (and each other)and how difficult it can be to deal with these very challenging (and provoking) youth for 8-12 hours straight. I am not in any way advocating abusive treatment of youth, but I do agree there has to be a reasonable degree of safety and control before effective rehabilitation is going to be possible. While some of those calling for more punitive measures may be part of the problem, others calling for more control and safety may just reflect a symptom of the problem that has yet to be addressed. As inadequate and ultimately unproductive as some of the punitive approaches may have been, many of them developed/increased as stop-gap efforts to maintain safety and control during years of inadequate facilities and staffing. Removing too many of these controls before better tools/interventions/resources are put into place just causes further destabilization, chaos, and risk. That's what I hear happening from a lot of TYC staff I know personally who do care about kids and do not want to abuse anyone. TYC staff have not been provided any legitimate understanding of how the 'Missouri Model' approach is supposed to work in the environment they deal with every day. I can understand why they would be skeptical and frankly frightened about what they think will be expected of them under such an approach. It's kind of like being asked to jump out of an airplane trusting to a parachute when you have never actually seen a parachute work. It may be necessary to give a push but let's also understand and try to adress the underlying anxiety and concern.
>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

THAT COMMENT WAS NOT FAIR - ALL STAFF NEED IS TO KNOW THAT ADMINISTRATORS WILL BACK THEM UP WHEN THEY DECIDE TO HOLD YOUTH RESPONSIBLE WHEN NECESSARY - GRITS, NEVER FORGET THAT THESE YOUTH WILL ASSAULT YOU IN A TYC MINUTE - EVEN IF THEY ARE HOLDING A STUFFED ANIMAL WHILE BEATING YOUR BRAINS IN - TYC NEEDS TO FIND A WAY TO CREATE A BALANCE IN DISCIPLINE AND REHAB - THAT IS ALL I WAS SAYING - NO ONE EVER SAID THAT WE NEED TO BEAT THEM!

Anonymous said...

kids are now Masturbating in the classrooms. Just whooping it out and getting after it. The punishment for that is NOTHING! Guess it would be against the new rules to punish one for exposing himself to teachers, men and women.
They can do what ever they want and no one can make them do anything at all. They can sleep all day in school, they can refuse to go to class, they can do whatever they want on the dorms. They are in control and they know it.
All we can do is stand by and watch it happen. The new TYC! If you believe this not to be the truth, hang around a TYC for a few days and see for yourself!

Anonymous said...

"They're mad because they don't get to beat the crap out of kids like they did under Dwight Harris." Thanks, Scott. This is apparently how how you really feel about TYC staff.

You don't know the kids, you don't know the business, you don't know the agency, and you don't know us -- at all!

Anonymous said...

...and, I might add, you don't know Dwight Harris.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Don. Scott, I'm afraid you stepped over the line with this last one. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

Hey, Grits. Go ahead and create that "system focused on teaching the kid to live up to their responsibilities." Copyright it, and you'd be a very rich man.

You're not the first to think of it, of course. Caring TYC staff and volunteers have been trying to do it day in and day out for decades, individually and collectively.

It's more difficult than your comment above implies, but if you've got it, please don't hold back.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean "brass tacks," not brass tax.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To Don, maybe it's harsh, but it's accurate, sadly, in at least some cases. I don't doubt for a second youth can be abusive toward staff. I KNOW that's true. But it's ever been thus and the get-tuffer methods just make things worse. The 'staff are just ignorant and scared and don't understand any other way' excuse only goes so far and IMO it's now gotten old. It's trotted out too often and never with any accompanying constructive suggestions. Consider my comments part of the "push" you said "may" be needed.

To 4:42: "It's not fair, it's not fair" sounds like the whining teens you're supervising. Life's not fair. That doesn't mean my comments don't accurately describe a set of attitudes routinely expressed on these TYC comments strings.

Re: Kids are masturbating. Imagine that. Something new under the sun. Cry me a river. I'm sure that NEVER happened before conservatorship, right? I've never heard of a corrections facility that had to deal with THAT problem. Oh me, oh my.

6:12 - I don't know you, but I know all too well the crap that gets spewed in TYC strings routinely. I've read the same spiels too many times and my patience and sympathy has run out for people who throw up such complaints as barriers to reform (always anonymously, of course), but never offer any positive suggestions.

Salty, draw another line. I'll step over that one. I'm sick of naysayers with nothing to contribute dominating these comment strings.

To 6:23, I don't need to patent anything. Just stop resisting the Missouri style reforms and shut the hell up whenever you feel the urge to say it can't be done if you're not allowed to manhandle the youth. If other jurisdictions don't tolerate that crap - and we learned last year during the pepper-spray/use of force debates that they don't - TYC doesn't have to either, and shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Grits, though it sounded pretty harsh, unfortunately you were probably right. However, I didn't interpret your comment as referring to "ALL" TYC frontline staff. Please clarify because it sounds like other posters feel that you are condemning everyone in TYC (I hope that's not the case).

I appreciate the fact that 12:06pm took the time to research the Missouri Model instead of listing all of the reasons why it may not work in TX. Juvenile offenders in TX are no different then those in other large states or urban areas. Many of those other states are replicating the MM.

The majority of TYC employees seem to be dedicated people with good hearts who continue to have the passion to work with this type population. I just hope that they don't allow the fear of something new to blend with TYC's history of new initiatives that failed.

I know many Missouri employees who state that it's imperative that staff believe in the model for it work. It was hard for them to accept it at first too, but they agreed that they couldn't take their agency's dysfunction (staff assaults, youth assaults, riots, distrust of CO, etc) anymore. To their surprise, it worked and still does. My question to TYC employees would be "are you tired of the dysfunction yet"?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of losing all respect - I have lost it for you. You're just dead wrong about most of us....wow, you've really surprised me. But true colors always come out eventually. Have a nice life - way up there on your high horse, in your nice cushy office. You ought to apply for a top position with TYC - you'd fit right in.

Anonymous said...

You really do not get what we are saying - I know JCO staff that are highly educated,dedicated, smart, brave, caring and loyal(not scared and ignorant as you so brilliantly stated). These staff are not allowed to do their jobs without being micromanaged and having their decisions reversed on a daily basis. Just because people post anonymously does not mean that what they post is not true or should not be considered - dedicated staff try and give input and ideas on how to effectively implement any "program" CO throws at us, however, the ideas are killed at the admin level and never set in place. Agency wide the rehab pendulum has swung so far over that even tenured administrators walk on eggshells on their campuses - is that what you want? Really? I think you are out of touch - mark my words - five years from now - the lege and thug huggers LIKE YOU will be begging for discipline and a "get tough" TYC.

Face it - in our TYC and with the population we serve, group hugs, teddy bear circles, and music therapy will not work.

Disappointed

Anonymous said...

One more thing - EVERY person like you always looks for people like me when you are about to get your ass whooped by a kid!!!

Not because I can beat the kids ,but because of a long career in corrections, an ability to de-escalate, rapport, trust, cooperation, and a highly disciplined, professional relationship I have with all youth at all campuses.

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

Grits, perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. Honestly, I really don't know why but legislators tend to read your blog while ignoring actual data but they do. You know, Austin's a crazy town. And honestly, I and TYC need all of the help we can get. So help us.

A man in my position needs to work with the media so tell me about this Missouri model. You say this Missouri model is the cure for TYC's ills. Who knows, you may be right.

I am going to give you some situations and YOU TELL ME as a TYC administrator how they should be handled. These are real situations that have happened within the last two months in various units in TYC.

Situation 1- A youth is masturbating in class disrupting algebra and none of the other youths are able to get their work done because a student is shooting semen all under his desk and incidentally some of it got on the youth in front of him. The offending youth is placed in security housing for the day and gets out just in time to go to school the next morning in the same class. Should we give him a stuffed animal?

Situation 2- A 64 year old teacher tells a Youth that he cannot have milk in class and confiscates the milk. When the teacher's back is turned the youth pushes her full force into her desk. Her face makes contact with the desk and causes numerous injuries. Very bloody incident requires surgery. The Youth is placed in security for only a few days and is able to regain most of his privileges within a week. Should we give him a pet turtle?

Situation 3- A Youth who happens to be a dangerous gang member has intimidated staff who are not allowed to touch him. Due to the fact that he is so violent staff members tend to let him have his own way because with their use of force policy they could be fired if they restrain him without using an unrealistic "Handle with Care" hold. This youth is forcing numerous smaller weaker youths to give him oral sex. Should we give him "group therapy" with the kids that he just sodomized?

Grits you are the man with the answers. I am giving you authority, to make a deposition on any of these cases. YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO. Wow me with an answer.

I will tell you whether or not I can get the higher ups to go along with it.

Grits, you have an opportunity here to not just talk about the world you live in but actually CHANGE the world that you are in. Its up to you.

Good luck and God Bless.

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

By the way Grits, I actually do have a suggestion for reform if you would like to hear it.

Okay, here goes.

Develop a computer system that identifies predatory youths and place them in high security facilities with strong staff that care; yes care but are also willing to put one of those kids on the ground if need be. And we must support them if they use force unless they go to far. This has to be judged on a case by case basis. Basically if the kid is still fighting more force is needed. If the kid is not fighting no force is needed. We still offer them treatment but we do it in a safe environment where they cannot hurt themselves or other youths. Common sense. Oh and yes their would be a way for them to progressively move out of that environment.

This means revamping the use of force policy to allow holds to ensure the safe but immediate compliance of an assaultive youth.

Do we need pepper spray? Not really. Not if we change the use of force plan and train the staff members similar to the training that police officers receive. I kind of like the DPS model for defensive tactics.

Okay, you can stop cringing now the use of force deal is over.

For the kids (who are not violent towards staff) there needs to be a progressive sanctioning that is uniformly enforced. You know we can't have kids masturbating in class so we have to sanction them if they do this and place them a more restrictive environment and LESS privileges.

For the kids that do work the program the world should be their oyster. They could watch movies with popcorn, play video games, live in a "tidy dorm room." The kids that exhibit positive life changes should be offered life assistance, help with higher education or trade school needs, or perhaps even with getting into the military.

The kids that are not predatory could actually live in an environment like the Missouri model. However if we leave the predators in the classrooms and in the dormitories then we will make worse criminals out of all of the kids around them.

So you see Grits, in order to do the reforms you speak of we actually have to be in control. Until that happens, we cannot go over even remotely to the Missouri model.

P.S. I also think that comprehensive background checks need to be performed on new employees and when employees promote. Yes I suggested that before but you just said that I was complaining and not offering any sort of solution.

Anonymous said...

I can guarantee you that some level of abuse happens in all juvenile facilities. Your comment implies that Mr. Harris condoned this behavior which is completely false and wrong. Disciplinary action was taken with staff if abuse was proved against a youth. Yes, even good staff that made an error in judgement were fired. Good employees that got caught up in the moment and used excessive force were fired or at the very least put on probation. This big mess started because of two rogue Administrators chose to allegedley sexually abuse some kids at WTSS, and it exploded as a political witch hunt to cover the ass of the governor and Lege who were informed and did nothing about it shortly after it happened. Come on Scotty, let's get the facts straight.

Anonymous said...

psssst... hey grits, I masturbate too, but only to my 1978 Farrar Faucet poster... but I do it in private, so don't tell. I know, it's a sticky point so I need to stay anonymous...

Anonymous said...

Here is an idea - we need to review our hiring processes so that we can attract, obtain and retain, good staff that will actually be around after the 8 week training process. I know these "recruiters" need to meet numbers/quotas but it takes too long for a staff to get hired.I also think that field HR specialists and JCO VI's need to conduct interviews so we can see if the staff really meet the criteria - this is the way it was done before and it worked. Now we hire staff that I know can't handle a 200 pound youth, could not pick up fifty pounds, can barely get through an interview much less score well during one, and are probably hired becuase if we did not hire them then they would sue us for not hiring applicants over fifty years old. No I am not discriminating but we need to raise the age back to 21 years of age. These generation Nexters are incapable of showing up, can barely cary a conversation and do not take kindly to authority figures. We need higher standards and attractive, competitive wages for staff - do not lower hiring standards and cross your fingers!! Now thanks to M wOOD people not cut out for corrections waltz in (heartbeat and brain optional) and run or abandon their jobs no call no show for three days by the time the second paycheck hits the bank. Good job HR!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting...very interesting string of posts here. I am a TYC employee and wasn't the least bit irritated with what Grits said, but clearly some are quite highly offended. Hate to break it to you, peeps, but Grits is right. As far as I'm concerned, all this hullaballoo about "what are we gonna do with the violent ones?" is just plain fear. I get the fear. I've worked in TYC long enough to know the fear, but I've also seen enough to know that "get tough" doesn't work. Come on, people. Roll with it. If you can't, leave, and let the rest of us poor suckers give out turtles and stuffed animals. If we fail, then you can laugh at us.

Anonymous said...

Idea - Dorm Management

Every campus should revisit the orientation dorm idea again. When we receive youth from O&A we should try to put them in a dorm which is populated with other "new" youth. Youth in similar stages that can help each other adjust - once they are assessed and ready to progress, they should move to another dorm that is populated with youth at a similar or higher stage or ready to progress - in other words stage appropriate dorms.

On the orientation dorm you need the most tenured, by the book staff, case managers and PA or else the idea will not work.

What we do now is counterprodctive to the work staff at the O&A's do for us - new youth get to a campus still following the rules and respecful of staff, used to doing behavior groups etc.. and we throw brand new kids in with youth that are already comfortable with the program and after three or four days the "new" kid has fed in with other youth and headed down the wrong path.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe masturbating in prison is ok if your doing it in your room or cell, no problem, its just you and your toy!

So from your ideas about this, guess it would be alright for a 17-18 year old 6ft male to whoop it out in the middle of Wal Mart cause he felt the need to do beside your wife or child in a grocery isle? Cause lordy we have had that problem for Years now.

I believe a classroom setting is the same as a public setting. What would happen to a kid who whooped it out in public school? So what in the hell makes a TYC classroom any different! That kid would be taken off campus and to jail and charges filed against him and expelled from school. In wal mart would it be not be a crime too, ESPECIALLY if the person did it was a SEX OFFENDER!

I am just not believing what you said about that. What would you do if a coworker did that to you on at your work place? Would you look at his happy jerk off ass and say oh,no problem. How in the hell do you teach a kid that this is wrong if you just say Oh well, your in jail, get after it dude! We will all watch you or talk over you. Heres a klenex when your finished you can wipe your self.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, stuffed animals... Its all fun and games until someone gets killed....

Anonymous said...

I long for the days when:

Youth used politeness skills when addressing staff

Asked permission to approach and stood at parade rest when speaking to staff

Saw group as a useful tool and participated in and had "breakthroughs" in group settings

Youth worked as a team - chores, marching, drill and ceremony competitions

Did real volunteer activities

Acted like respectful young men when in the community..fottball games, basketball games, dinners, awards, parades, docotr visits, visitors at other campuses

When he had a deep pool of talentted staff at our facilities

Staff enjoyed coming to work and called the facility to check in so you could reach them in case you needed them

Staff volunteered their own time to tutor youth, chair birthday committees etc..

We had it good - deep down........real deep down we can once again achieve greatness!!

Roll with it? Man, that is my motto....roll with it baby!!!

post M.v.T. said...

For those of you TYC youngsters, the way we are heading now is no different from where we were in the mid 80's, and we were fine then. Change your attitude and those kids will change. They'll respect you when you are acting as a change agent as opposed to a CO. Say no and mean it. No to bringing in contraband. No to any bad activity. Challenge their thinking instead of ignoring it and try to shape it, and they'll challenge your authority and make you think twice of coming back to work. That's fine but stay the course and stay on them. Don't give in, but pick your damn battles and by all means, win, but rid your staff of trying to "ride out" these kids because they have far too much enegry for many of you to hang with it. Think. But more importantly, be keen enough to out-think them. You'll win in the end if you can do that. - I'm old and retired now, but these are the same issues we faced post Morales, and so you all need to be wise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 8:52pm and 9:38pm. I believe you posts are what Grits was asking for. It is time to stop complaining and start thinking. Other agencies faced these same issues but overcame them by "rolling with" reform.

Anyway, as TYC staff gets older and tired, the kids get bigger and stronger. But, with age comes wisdom and no matter how hard they try, kids will never be more wise than seasoned, trained employees. The Missouri Model allows staff to model behavior for kids to follow. So 9:38 was right when he said to "think" and "be keen enough so you can out-think them".

Anonymous said...

Grits I have been reading and writing for years now. You have lost it. Is everything ok? Maybe you need to take a break for a minute. Way too many assumptions and innacurate, ill focused comments.

I see the real issue as this...As long as we continue with facilities with over 300 youth, dorms with 18-24 youth, terrible caseworker rations, terrible retention of professional staff, and terrible central office management, TYC has no hope of Missouri.

I do think it is odd that Texas, the lock em up state, actually has a history of protecting its youth from adult criminal charges through the determinate sentencing program. unfortunately we are moving the wrong direction and that is due to the legislature, not TYC. The legislature does not think through the consequences of its decision. While most states are extending the age of majority for youth in the juvenile justice system TYC is going the other direction.

Missouri has a great model. You cannot blame TYC for being unable to replicate it. We are not in facilities that will work. And our population has been different from Missouri, and many other states, as we have youth in the juvenile justice system, many of which are sent directly to the adult system in other states based on severity of offenses.

The masturbation issue is not what you make it. youth are openly masturbating while in school. Sitting in their desks, whipping it out, smacking it down, and smiling at staff all the while. You are overreacting grits. But TYC will not make these grand changes while still in the current facilities or without major renovations to facilities and major efforts to retain staff.

Anonymous said...

I dont believe staff are resisting change regardless of the change, hell look at this past year and any moron can tell you TYC have been through change.

Secondly, it is so easy for someone with no real knowledge of corrections to point fingers and yip and yell for a program they have never actually analyzed (Missouri-TYC).

Lastly, since we seem to be painting all TYC staff with the same brush, lets just say that all writers, reporters, Bloggers (site), are all unethical and never tell the truth but just their private or political agenda.

Change is not a bad thing, but first you must have leaders willing to get in the trenches with their line staff and lead. You must have a program that is actually evidenced based and not just a slogan the company spews when it becomes convenient. Sadly, statistics lie, they will always tell you what you want to hear and rarely the truth.

Houston said...

Whitmire wants to send Texas' youngsters to a "TDCJ Wing" of TDCJ and the rest to counties who do not trust the ledge despite it's history of retracting 10% of it's budget each and every year for the past 10 years, and this liberal blog supports him - still?

Whitmire is a cross-dressing Republican who seemingly likes his coffee dark but can't seem to identify with himself, much less his party.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to inform you "Houston" but all the cross-dresser are in the Democratic party.

Just because "BILL" was sampling cigars with an intern in the oval office does not give the democrats any street credibility.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Y'all, I never said my comments referred to MOST TYC employees, just the ones who come on this blog opposing every possible reform while demanding expanded use of force and more use of long-term isolation, not to mention whining that the kids aren't punished enough for their 225s.

If that's not you, I wasn't talking about you. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Regarding GOP cross dressers, see this pic. That's Rudy Giuliani on the right.

Anonymous said...

djwucugScott - I believe, if I were you, that I'd cease and desist from posting another topic relating to TYC ( for a month or so.) Damn sure gets the natives restless. There's got to be "a third way" in order to keep the focus off the extremes. My advice is free, not charging you this one time.

Plato

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes this thread really blew up...

Someone further down basically posted what would have been my response to Don Brantley, who warns that staff are worried about how a Missouri style system would work in the current environment.

Of course, that's the whole problem: it can't.

The environment, by which we mean the physical facilities, the programming, the entire way of doing things, has to change.

If you look at the history of the Missouri system, that's what gradually happened. It appears that some staff adapted to the changes, while others did not.

The terms of this whole discussion are out of whack. The attitude is that reforms must fit into the existing system. Impossible. They can't. The whole point of reforms is to replace the existing system with something that actually works.

BTW, to the person who thinks legislators base their decisions on this blog, have you been paying attention this past year?

BB

Anonymous said...

GRITS

I am asking you to go inside a TYC facility and work for awhile and get "clocked" in the head or face and the Holy Hell beat out of you PLUS spit in the face and then you would have a different out look on not getting tuff. I would respect your comments on the "Hug a Thug" mode or approach, but you have never really worked in a TYC facility for any lenth of time (maybe an announced visit)and fisically been abused by a youth. HAVE SOME EMPATHY FOR STAFF THAT HAVE BEEN ABUSED BY THESE YOUTH!!!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Plato, that's probably wise advice, certainly worth every penny, but I'm afraid I don't have that much sense.

Bill, you've nailed the issue when you write, "The environment, by which we mean the physical facilities, the programming, the entire way of doing things, has to change." The complainers here can't see beyond the end of their noses so can't understand how anything might work except what they already know - expanded use of force and solitary confinement. I get that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That's true in this discussion and for some it's created a myopic point of view that can't imagine how any reform could possibly work, even if it's worked elsewhere.

9:54, I have lots of sympathy for staff who've been abused by youth. And vice versa, I might add, though you neglected to do so. However my response would be that smaller facilities centered on a rehabilitative approach would be safer for everybody. So why do you fight it?

No one denies TYC youth can be abusive and violent or that safety is critical for youth and staff. But this is true in every youth prison in America, adult lockups too. For that matter, it's true in Missouri. Some TYC'ers want to pretend nobody else in history every confronted problems as tough as theirs - in reality, they need to be looking to those in other jurisdictions who're doing a better job with the same issues.

You want to label the Missouri folks and others promoting best practices "hug a thug" types and dismiss their approach by saying it's "liberal"? Go ahead. That's certainly what TYC has done in the past so it doesn't surprise me. But history is passing you by and rapidly making such views obsolete and irrelevant. Jerry Madden's no liberal, nor was the Governor who appointed the blue ribbon panel recommending Missouri-style reforms. TYC is going to change radically soon, and there's ZERO chance they're going to just make everything like it was in the good old days under Dwight Harris, which is the only proposal the "tuff" crowd in these blog comments ever seems to offer. Since nostalgia is not a policy position, just an expression of narcissism, that's a recipe for continuous disappointment and unhappiness going forward.

Anonymous said...

Although I have never worked at TYC, I have worked in a detention center. The above poster is correct in saying that you would have a different perception if you actually worked with incarcerated youth.

I personally believe that there is a place for pepper spray and extended lock downs for non-compliant youth in TYC.

We recently had an employee in our detention center leave to go work at TYC because they were offering him more money. He quit within a month and came back to detention for less money. His main complaint was that the kids are running the facilities and there are minor consequences for serious misconduct.

It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt or killed at TYC.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Bill (BB).
The impossibility of implementing a true 'Missouri model' approach with current TYC facilities and resources has been discussed on other posts, including some of my own. My point was that SOME of what is being interpreted as TYC staff resistance to change is actually fear and uncertainty regarding just how they are supposed to accomplish these changes and what is going to be expected of them without the necessary structural and programming changes yet in place. Significant change IS necessary and I can appreciate Grit's feeling that a push is needed. I'm saying what is really needed is a clearer and more concrete roadmap for the TYC line staff. People usually want to see where the train is going before they feel good about getting onboard. I would normally lay this responsibility at the feet of TYC upper management but I have to feel some empathy for them as well. Until the lege decides what it really wants from TYC (big or small; corrections or rehabilitation; cheap or quality), then TYC management is going to have a hard time making any real progress. Even the specific solutions/positive suggestions that you have called for Grits, and that some have offered, won't help much until the leadership (state and TYC) decides upon a clear and consistent direction.
>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

Why can't you see the bloggers entries as concerned and passionate rather than whining and complaining? You know some of us might know what we are talking about - no one is fighting the change but asking CO to realize that without certain controls in place NO program would be effective.

Since I have read it in so many strings - I have to ask:

Have you ever been a JCO? a PS? CW?
How long have you been working with delinquent youth and in what capacity? I would hope that with all your spewing you can speak intelligently on JJ issues - I hope your "profundity" comes from experience mixed with education or else I would have to say you are full of sh%&!

Anonymous said...

Why can't you see the bloggers entries as concerned and passionate rather than whining and complaining? You know some of us might know what we are talking about - no one is fighting the change but asking CO to realize that without certain controls in place NO program would be effective.

Since I have read it in so many strings - I have to ask:

Have you ever been a JCO? a PS? CW?
How long have you been working with delinquent youth and in what capacity? I would hope that with all your spewing you can speak intelligently on JJ issues - I hope your "profundity" comes from experience mixed with education or else I would have to say you are full of sh%&!

Anonymous said...

I think someone should look into how often students and TYC staff have their bones broken by TYC "students." We seem to view this as part of the campus culture and "no big deal." They go into re-direct - again "no big deal." Of course, there are other types of injuries.
I suspect this is an issue that separates the "reformers" from the front line people who log in to Grits with their concerns.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of constructive suggestions, let me offer this. If you want to reach a kid (or anyone for that matter) you need to have a relationship. I personally believe that the most important relationships in TYC are those between the youth and the JCO staff (no offense casemanagers and others). The ones who spend the most time with the youth have the greatest potential for positive (or negative) impact. I always supported efforts to keep an identified team of staff working with a specific group of youth. We couldn't always manage this in large facilities, but we tried and did to some extent. One obvious benefit of the Missouri model and smaller facilities is that staff will work more consistently with the same youth. If JCO staff don't have the opportunity to work with and develop relationships with specific youth, then all they are to the youth are prison guards. The youth will treat them like prison guards and the JCO staff will act like prison guards. I hear this effort to keep small groups of staff and youth together was all but abandoned under Ms. Pope, in favor of an adult prison approach to staffing coverage. If this hasn't been corrected, I hope current TYC management will revisit it.
>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

Regarding “My question to TYC employees would be "are you tired of the dysfunction yet"?”

McFadden Ranch, fabulous staff, the best of the best of TYC kids, small community group home setting in the DFW metroplex, is on Lock Down. You would expect this from a Giddings, Mart, but McFadden! The kids at McFadden are so out of control that the facility is on lock down! What is this all about?
I don’t know why they’re on lock down but the fact that these kids, and staff, are on lock down should be evidence to any open minded intelligent person with even the smallest knowledge of TYC that the people running the show are not getting the right tools and/or the wrong guidance/interference to TRAIN these kids to not be a burden on society.

The old timers talk about A&M went downhill when it went from a college to a university. The same may hold true when our Juvenile delinquent facilities changed their naming from training schools to a counsel/commission.

Change is good, balance is good, like the Missouri model keep the stuffed animal pet turtle kids in TYC and ship the predators off to Clemons where they belong.

Perhaps TYC should be run by a team of engineers, get a set of requirements, design and implement the system, use agile design methodology, and reboot often.

Whacking off in class, LOL, it’s good to be a kid in TYC, real good. Is wild root hair grease still given out by JCO’s squirting a little in a kids hand? Was the JCO in class room handing this out? I can just hear the kid saying, “need a little hand jig over here boss”. This is insane.

This tax payer of the great state of Texas would like to say Thank you to all the staff at TYC for the work you do, may the Almighty protect you and give you peace.

Sheldon TYC#47333

Anonymous said...

Sheldon,
We hope the Almighty will protect us, but the environment doesn't seem safe. At any given moment, all over campus an irrational violent outburst seems to be lurking just around the corner. Staff members usually do a good job under this kind of insane pressure. How many people could do that day after day, year after year. My hat is off to those who have hung in there.

Whatever unmet needs or unresolved issues staff members have may eventually be churned up in this supercharged pressure cooker. What an incredibly predatory culture these kids bring to our campus. The wonder is that most staff members do a good job of managing the chaos.

Maybe Whitmire is right said...

TYC has its lowest inmate population in years and the lowest staff to inmate ratio it's seen in probably decades, if ever. If we believe Grits' numbers (or I guess that would be LBB's) this will be the lowest staff to inmate ratio we'll ever see because the population will soon go back up.

So if TYC staff can't control the kids now, why should anyone think things would get better in the future when the units fill back up again?

I'm not saying Whitmire is right, but if things are really as out of control as several commenters say, it scores points for his argument.

Anonymous said...

Don,

I agree with much of what you wrote. I'd add that the reason staff can't see a roadmap for what these vague-sounding changes would look like is because no one is presenting that map clearly and convincingly.

For that, I fault leadership, straight-up. The conservator, and the legislature that controls the purse strings, needs to step up and show a little of it.

BB

BDwaco said...

To the user who said something to the effect of "Is it going to take a serious injury to staff or youth to bring about change"...My wife is also a JCO at Mart II. She was seriously injured a month ago by an out of control youth running headlong into her, smashing her face through the dryers on the dorm, causing a broken jaw, a big nasty cut on her head, and serious bruising to her back and legs.

The next day I was assigned to work on the same dorm with the same youth, who was already back on the dorm. Despite reassurances by the facility Super Intendant, whe she wreturned to work, we were assigned to work the same dorm, pod and at the same time. This created an unsafe environment for both me and my wife, and even though I was reassured she would recieve a dorm transfer and I would not have to work with the youth who injured her, I have been continually assigned to work both with her, and this same youth.

She was knocked unconscious, her jaw was broken, and suffered a severe cut on her head. No one paid attention to our concerns about having to work with these kids at the same time, and this has created an unsafe atmosphere for us both daily. The injuries are swept under the carpet, and JCO staff is treated as if we are merely punching bags.

Until someone who understands the hazard and actually cares about fixing them realizes this, we are stuck with this almost unbelievably unfair treatment.

Evertime I go to work I think to myself "Welcome to Thunderdome"

Anonymous said...

Grits,

The fear of the unknown by TYC staff is not a bizarre concept since for the last 18 months the only thing they have known is an ill-defined unknown. TYC is still directionless when it comes to youth treatment programs and means to maintain order. I have read the proposals of the conservator and the problem is that there is no adequate interim treatment. Long term solutions such as the Missouri plan are good ideas to discuss but the discussion does not solve the problems with treatment and order that have been going on for 18 months. There are a lot of youth who are not getting the treatment they need or the state should provide. That is the true scandal of TYC.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

"Regarding GOP cross dressers, see this pic. That's Rudy Giuliani on the right." Well, is that Whitmire with a wig on the left? What possibly could these two be singing about? Where do you find this shit man? Too funny!

Anonymous said...

5:02 PM

I am sorry to hear about your wife and your current working situation, I am ahocked at the situation because you actually have some good people there (C.S) I want to say "thank you" for hanging in there and going back to work and showing that youth that no matter what he does, he can't beat your spirit. Thanks for your courage, loyalty and tenacity.

NOTE: PEOPLE OF LESS CALIBER (REHABSTERS) WOULD HAVE TURNED TAIL AND RAN OUT OF THE BUILDING NEVER TO RETURN

IN APPRECIATION,

A Former JCO

Anonymous said...

5:02, didn't you consider going to the Sheriff -- regardless of what the OIG might say about that? Have you tried the employee grievance system?

Anonymous said...

5:02 -
I too am sorry to hear about your wife's injuries and I hope she is doing better. I also appreciate your willingness to hang in there despite these experiences.

but 6:20 -
Please! Insinuating those who want to help youth ('Rehabsters') are of 'less caliber' and afraid is just the kind of black and white, all corrections or all rehabilitation nonsense that got TYC into some of the mess it experiences today. I consider myself a rehabilitation minded individual but I absolutely beleive that there has to be a reasonable level of control and safety at the same time. That means realistic and meaningful consequences for criminal conduct, inside or outside TYC. I have worked in hospitals, residential treatment centers and TYC and I don't know ANY qualified rehabilitation professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists who would agree that allowing such conduct as 5:02 describes to go unconsequenced is a good way to teach a youth how to behave and adjust in our society. So don't perpetuate this ridiculous dichotomy with comments like that.
>Don Brantley

Anonymous said...

5:02 pm-tell your wife to run, not walk to the county sheriff and file assault charges NOW and both of you contact the union. Also demand that the video be saved for your assault case before it is too late.

Sounds like they are trying to run you off before you can file a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Don,

You are right - you may not know me, but I know you and I respect you so I would have to take that one back. I guess my emotions got the best of me. I just do NOT want anyone to say to that poor blogger "Well, assaults happen" that situation is outrageous and counterproductive to what we need to be doing with our population.

Anonymous said...

As a 20 year state employee, having been there and purchased the proverbial shirt, I will simply state "move on" to those who are bitter or disenchanted with the TYC. I had to move on and I am better now for it. Even if it is just for the extra room in the closet now that I threw out the multitude of shirts, caps, and jackets. I understand that this sounds as simple minded as it is simplified, but what other choice do we have. Quikstop hires all the time.

Unless, you organize sufficiently with a good corrective action plan (meant as a joke) you're spitting in the wind or tilting the windmill. Austin bureaucrats both elected and appointed will not soothe any sore you folks still have. What all those affected really need and what I am hoping for, are some truly intelligent, dedicated, and ambitious advocacy lawyers to force the state into honoring the employment rights we signed signed for and stood on the line for to file one hellacious class action lawsuit. Like alot of others, my skin is still a little singed and maybe some green salve might help us feel a little better. As for Grits, its his ball, he can go home with it whenever he wants. And... if he wants to spit in your face and say that it sucks to be you, then there is not much you can do about it other than go elsewhere.

Unlike myself and other former/current TYC folks who post here anonymously or with pen names, Don and Howard however insulated are to be applauded for their open, honest, and informed opinions.

In closing: To the whiney lying parents that have shirked their duty and abused their children, I want to say it must really suck to be you. Blaming others to deal with your unwanted feelings, what a thinking error.

Anonymous said...

In case you don't know...

Use of pepper spray is lower than ever. Youth are in isolation less than ever. Programming changes are happening. Populations are lower. Youth are leaving in droves. New administrators are being hired yet again. TYC adminstrators want to move to smaller facilities. You know what. The lege doesn't want to do it. If Whitmire wants the youth in a wing of TDCJ then he is a two faced lying sack of shit and all the advocacy groups who believe he is trying to reform TYC have been hoodwinked.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire can have no points. The legislature has micromanaged conservatorship. They are responsible. TYC is not reforming because of them and their illogical demands. In reality TYC has only really been truly in conservatorship since January. I see alot that has been done since then and many things in the works. The legislature is to blame for asking unqualified people to do things that only those with significant amounts of experience can dream of pulling off in several years time.

Whitmire is an absolute idiot for thinking that dimitria pope had the qualifications to manage TYC, nonetheless oversee the development of a new treatment program.

So everytime Whitmire opens his mouth, blaming the agency for resistance to changes in programing, recall the likes of Bronco Billy and the Pope, and let him know.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. The last two weeks have been awful. We've had near riots or "alerts" about riots for two weeks now. One man in a "near" riot had a golf ball sized chunk bitten out of his arm. We have been told not to really confront youth at all. We have been told that as long as the youth are not hurting anyone to leave them alone and let them act like the teenagers that they are. I liked being a teenager and I agree with the fact that some of the youth's actions are just them being teenagers. When I was a teenager I didn't think my mama knew anything and I went against the grain in my house. I never bit my mother. I never told another woman that I was going to put a hit out on her children either. At our facility we have a new gang coming up called the "Certified Soldiers". The only way to get jumped into the gang is to assault staff using whatever means necessary. I've never laid a hand on a child in the three years I've been with TYC. No restraints. I've also never been scared when entering the facility either in three years. Staff talks about how kids have taken advantage of the Milling and Cabinetry class by sneaking nails, peices of wood, and various other items back to their dorms to make shanks. Students are saying that they are going to "shank" this person or that one "whenever 'cause I don't care". Across the street is just as bad. We have a brother facility staying with us because of "IKE". A visiting staff has put a "hit" out on a staff from our facility. Two dorms have been out of control because no one will or can (I don't know which) confront youth's negative behavior. Three youth from one of those dorms climbed up to the roof of one building while out in rec and tore all the shingles off to throw at staff while up there. As of four p.m. two youth were still on the roof and had been since early that morning. We need a change. I like my job. I don't feel safe anymore. The kids are free to make threats to us and we can do nothing about it. One staff had urine thrown on her. The youth told another staff that it was urine that she threw on the woman. Either no one told the woman that she had to give her shirt over to the ADO or no one would come and help her out so now the youth can't be held accountable for their actions because the woman went home to change and shower. The investigating team says that the woman could have poured her own urine on the shirt so they will not go forward and hold youth accountable. One staff was accused of doing something to a youth so he was put on suspension pending an investigation. Six months later he finds out that the investigation never started and the student that made the allegation has been gone for four months.

What do we do? The youth are running the facility because the ACLU has said that the students need more freedoms. I think priviledges should be earned and not exploited or manipulated. I don't know if all of the crap going on at TYC is all necessarily connected CO. The ACLU is in on this too. If the Missouri plan is as good as you say it then what is taking so long getting it to us? Because in the meantime we have nothing. If we had something in place we could at least take some first steps.

I'm the type of person that beleives in right and wrong and beleives in ethics. If my captain tells me that we need to storm the hill and I feel that everyone would benefit from it, be more safe, and that it's ethical, I'll storm the hill. If everythings not kosher and all it wuold do is cause more problems I'd have to tell my captain that he needs to find another soldier because his military is not right for me.

The reason why a lot of staff do not just pack up and jump ship is because they either have no other employment opportunities available to them without uprooting family or because they think that we truly can turn out some law abiding citizens from TYC. We have turned out law abiding citizens from TYC and I beleive we can do it again. Give us the tools we need to do it.

TYC Educator

Seperate the Wheat from the Chaff said...

BDWaco:

I have talked to OIG Criminal Investigator in the Waco area and you need to go talk to the OIG there now. He is in the Mart I admin building and tell him you are bdwaco. He will help you and your wife get justice if you want it. I will pray for you.

Anonymous said...

This is REALLY indirectly related to this string, but I know it will be of interest for some: according to a recent TYC email, Ron Stewart (Asst. Supt. at CRTC) is reassigned to be Interim Supt. at Crockett, and Jeff Berry (acting supt. or some such at Al Price) is now Asst. Supt. at CRTC. If memory serves, Jeff got the heave-ho under Laura Braly (current CRTC supt.) while they were at Mart I, with some input from good ol' Billy Humphrey, I believe. This could be interesting...

Anonymous said...

Wow even the teachers are worried about their safety

Anonymous said...

9:44,

The difference now is that Chip will take care of his little Berry, and Braly may be the one getting the old heave ho. There will never be any consistency at TYC as long as they keep moving around the field Administrators.

Anonymous said...

Well here is food for thought on the email about Stewart and Berry. Maybe they are moving all the upper management that they want to get rid of to Corsicana, so when they shut the doors on that place next August, they can legally get rid of the ones that they don't want!

Now, now this is just what it is FOOD FOR THOUGHT and Nothing ELSE. Humors thoughts only! Dont run with it as truth, please. Just in fun.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Read carefully what Dr. Brantley and BB have said, and then read the comments of most of these "resisters." Most of them have never seen small, well-controlled facilities. They have been working in large institutions whose physical layout speaks "penal institution." They cannot see the Missouri model working because all they have ever known is what they are working with now. Penal style facilities produce penal institutional behavior in both the "inmates" and the staff. Philip Zimbardo demonstrated that pretty conclusively back in the late '60s. Google "Stanford Prison Experiment." It's a classic.

In short, there is no way the Missouri model would work in facilities like Mart. It is a contradiction in terms.

(Note to those of you who want the masturbators arrested - public indecency is a misdemeanor. These kids are in for felonies.)

Old Salty

Anonymous said...

WHAT SHOULD WE DO THEN OLD ASS sALTY - TAKE AWAY TURTLE PRIVELEGES WHEN THEY INDECENTLY EXPOSE THEMSELVES? SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE VERY FAMILIAR WITH THE ISSUE

Monkey Slap said...

I'm gonna unleash my Ninja Turtles on your ass if you print in all CAPS again.

Grow up.

You know as well as we do that you slapped your monkey around just like these kids are doing. The only difference is you didn't get caught. Kinda "hard" to do when your entire cell in visible to everyone. But when you reinforce the "shock value" of it all, you just poured gas on a fire. Ignore it consistently and see what happens - CAP MONKEY SLAPPER. Umh Umph.

Anonymous said...

I think the Stewart/Berry issue is indeed related to this string, because it is a key example of how very clueless CO is most often. Lord help Crockett! Ron Stewart has to be up there as one of the most incompetent administrators we have at TYC! The optimistic side of me hopes CO is just giving him enough rope to hang himself, so to speak, but the pessimistic side of me thinks the optimistic side of me is pretty dumb for being that optimistic.

10:39, I think you're probably right. Chip will protect his little friend. Good ol' boys, they are.

Anonymous said...

2:42 am

There is a big difference in what normal teenagers do in private and a TYC youth masturbating in the classroom - we are talking indecent exposure here.

Anonymous said...

"Ignore it" 2:42????

Anonymous said...

Ok, heres one for you all who seem to think, kids masturbating in class is fine and dandy and its only a misdemeanor.
Hell if they can whoop it out and its ok, hell let them start just having sex with each other in the classroom. We can work around that, no problem. Same damn thing, where you have a partner or not, its having SEX WITH YOUR SELF!
The next one of those that do it in my room, I am going to TRY TO FILE CHARGES against them at least I have tried to stop it. I bet the public sector will agree with me, this has to stop!

Anonymous said...

So you file on a kid for a misdemeanor - what do you suppose will happen?

Yeah, it's nasty, but, kids don't get time in TYC for misdemeanors any more.

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott,
Why don't you create a site entitled "TYC Administrators I Don't Like," for those who always seem to want to air out their personal grievances against people they don't like? Then, whenever someone makes an off-topic ad hominem attack on someone else, move it to that other blog.

Anonymous said...

1:56 it may not do anything in TYC and I don't know what it might do in the public sector as far as another charge against the kid. I feel certain that the public sector would feel differently about the situation. I will speak to a judge whom is a good friend of mine in my town and get his input on the situation. But the main point would be to send a message to the kids that we are not going to tolerate this behavior in education. I don't know how this would work out with the ones who are sex offenders and sent to TYC for those crimes, might be a different ballgame for them to get peg again for exposing themselves to others.

Anonymous said...

charging youth with misdemeanors for sex offenses while in TYC would have an impact on their level of risk when evaluated prior to leaving TYC. This may ultimately lead to higher levels of parole supervision.

Why shouldn't misdemeanors committed in TYC be prosecuted? If they are 17 years old and they commit a misdemeanor and they are a sentenced offender then ship em out. Prosecute them and move them on to TDCJ. If you are still willing to commit significant offenses when you are locked up, being given a second chance then move on. If this was the norm in TYC this type of behavior would go away.

Anonymous said...

You know movement towards the Missouri model has very little to do with TYC administration and much to do with the legislature. Once the legislature gets on board with the financial support for smaller facilities, then the TYC administration can be held accountable. Until then the legislature should be held accountable for ignoring the recommendations of the blue ribbon panel.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with you but have to take exception to the latest moves made by this administration. Placing ill equipped leaders over some of the institutions is not acceptable and has little to do with the ledge.

Anonymous said...

"There will never be any consistency at TYC as long as they keep moving around the field Administrators."

First the complaint was that new facility leadership is coming into TYC from out of state agencies and that CO should hire from within.

Now the complaint is that CO is filling facility leadership positions from within TYC but now they're "placing ill equipped leaders over some of the institutions".

Sounds like the lege and CO aren't the only ones who don't know what they want. Neither do some of the employees on this blog. The title of this string suggested that we should be discussing the Missouri Model and some of you are talking about masturbation in class. I agree it's an issue but if you cant follow simple directions and post about the Missouri Model, why should the kids follow simple directions to keep their "monkey" tucked away til they get back to their rooms. Even after the discussion goes back to the Missouri Model, you take everyone's attention back to discussing masturbation. Ever think that the kids are doing the same thing? Trying to get everyone's attention?

Do you even hear your coworkers talking about riots or staff assaults? Shouldn't your coworkers safety be your first concern. I know, next you'll say that masturbation is an assault of your eyes right?

Anonymous said...

If "it" hits you in the eye, it could coded as offensive contact. Just kidding!

Anonymous said...

TYC has long suffered from a leadership vacuum. The previous administrations (Dwight, Steve, etc...) did not due enough to develop management from the talent pool. That's why back 2000/2001 at an administrators conference when asked who would be eligible for retirement in the next five years almost all of those in attendance raised his/her hand.

Then you have the period of micro-management that happened when Dwight became Assistant Exe. Director and everything became about details and numbers. Everything became about appearances. Also due to growth and poor development some person were promoted to his or her level on ineptitude... For some in management it did not appear to matter if their subordinate knew what they were doing as long as did what they were told. Those who were competent but independent thinkers were seen as a threat in the "good ole boy" system.

Tyc has to look to the outside if it is going survive. Hopefully, find people who can think outside the box (Missouri Model) but can understand TYC's history (old system and current) and help TYC adapt.

TYC has some excellent management prospects in the field (many diamonds in the rough). Also, when considering potential manager they need to look beyond "blind ambition" or those who simply want the power and perceived prestige of the position.

To do this TYC needs to find and mentor managers who believe in the rehabilitation (ethical) of youth. People who believe in "possibilities" but can balance it with the "harsher realities."

Go back to programs that are less about who has the power and control (control in an illusion) and more about tapping into motivation of the youth through a program that focuses on "peer accountability" and development on social skills.

Anonymous said...

Let me preface my comments that a kid masturbating in a classroom is highly offensive and if not addressed could escalate to worse behavior at its worst and shows a definite need for attention by the youth at its best.

Most of the post's focus on how the kid should be punished but now how the behavior should be addressed.

Many staff and campuses have forgotten how to develop and run a good program. Too much emphasis on the us against them mentality. I understand that in general terms this is how it is (how it is set up with any environment of incarceration) and staff need to work together to survive. Problem is the "team" trying to get results without knowing how to play the game. Security, 225's, Level II's, convicting a youth, are tools but have nothing to do with the finesse of the game.

The best programs and staff have always had staff who facilitated a "positive peer culture" by finding what motivates the youth they work with and helps them develop pro-social ways to meet their needs. Example, if a kid wants to be a leader...teach how to be a leader that can benefit the group. Otherwise, he may become a leader that works against staff purposes.

Guess, what I am getting down to is that peer accountability via group, huddle ups, etc... will do more to curb this kids behavior than charging him. Peer pressure is more likely to keep him in line.

I say this from personal experience of having a very similar situation. By the time the kid got through with the huddle up he never "whipped it out" during the rest of his stay in TYC.

BDwaco said...

First of all, I'd like to thank the many folks who extended well wishes to me and my wife. The blogger who said the agency is trying to run us off before we could file a lawsuit is right. Last Friday I submitted my letter of resignation. I could no longer allow my wife to be placed in harms way every single day because of the uncaring attitude of Mr Barton and the ODS's underneath him. The ladies in HR forwarded my reasons for leaving to Mr Walters in Austin, and I laid it all out for Curtis Simmons, Charles Barton, and whoever else I could think to contact. This in my opinion is why TYC cannot retain competent help. I am not claiming to be the worlds best JCO, but with my military background, the fact that I am an ordained minister, and my genuine care and desire to help these kids I feel I was a definite assett to TYC, and the way I was treated, and my wife was treated is an absolute shame.

I do plan on contacting the OIG tomorrow. It may be a case of closing the barn door after the horses have fled, but I guess it won't hurt anything.

Thanks again, y'all

Anonymous said...

bdwaco,

You did the right thing by leaving. You will find another job where your talents and experience is valued, and you will be much happier. Take it from someone that knows. I too had to leave TYC after a 10 year career that I devoted my life to. It is a bitter pill to swallow at first, but there are other jobs out there where you can work with youth and actually have leadership that cares about you and the youth. God Bless You.

BDwaco said...

Thanks 4:52.

I truly hope I can find something else in the field to do. As it is now I guess I'll go back to my previous profession, which is welding.The sad thing is, I'd been trying to break in to this profession for nearly 5 years when I finally got the call to work in Mart. Thanks again to all the people here who have offered me encouragement and took the time to listen to what I had to say. God Bless you all

diogenes said...

I just got back from training on a portion of the new program we're getting in TYC. I can't wait until we have some kind of coherent program instead of the chaos and uncertainty we have now.

My main concerns regarding the Missouri Model have been mentioned here and there in other posts, but may have been lost amongst the other comments.

1. Will the legislature pay for the change to the Missouri Model and keep it funded at the levels needed to operate it properly? This includes paying for the quality staff and administrators to run the program, even if it means a massive reboot on staffing.

2. Will the changes include a spectrum of options based on the needs of the youths? Step-up & step-down facilities, a privelege system that is actually funded and implemented logically, and a means to hold the violent youths accountable for their actions.

It's not that I don't want to change, I'm just afraid that if we tried it'd get hosed up like eveything else for the past 18 months and the budget will get slashed every year just so some admins can get a bonus check or the lege can score votes for re-election. I don't want to see history repeat itself again.

Perhaps this is an oversimplified idea, but the only way out I can see is two-pronged. On the one hand, we give "Old TYC" all the support they need to function now. Program, funding, etc. Don't aim for perfect, just something that will work and keep everyone safe. Treatment would be nice while we're at it, but operational safety first. While this is going on, we decide what we want the "New TYC" to be and start building it from the ground up. Smaller facilities with the full spectrum of restriction and privelege levels. Interviewing, hiring, and training a new cadre of staff and administrators from wherever you can get them. Yes, even some "Old TYC" people can transfer over if they have the skills and mindset needed for the new program. When eveything is in place and ready to go, make the change happen. Any "Old TYC" staff who aren't suited for the new program can be transferred to another state agency more appropriate to them (most likely TDCJ) or given a separation package and maybe even a referral for job skills training in a new field.

No, this won't be cheap, but if you want to do this right, you can't do it cheap.

In other words, it's like the story my officemate from Sam Houston likes to tell. When a tiger is attacking you and your first rifle shot didn't work, you feed him your left arm while you use your right arm to reload the rifle to shoot the tiger again, and you'd better hit this time.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Chip is there to protect the old dogs.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the recent article you posted of the interview with Jerry Madden, it all remains in doubt whether the lege will be willing to pay the money necessary to make it work.

Anonymous said...

Perspective people.

Nedelkoff would not/should not make changes at the institutional level at this point. He brought in some higher level administrators. the new ED will be the one to clean house at the regional and institutional level. This is how it should be. the new ED will have to put some of her own people in place at the middle level of management. Ones she believes can do the bidding of Gadow and Smith.

think the current administration has been hesitant to make institutional level/regional development changes. this is something to be left to the permanent executive director.

Anonymous said...

It's the top two Gadow and Smith who will be looked at (or should be). This is how any real leader goes about conducting business. The smaller fish do not make the changes and course of direction, they generally follow the biddings of those above them.

Anonymous said...

"The smaller fish do not make the changes and course of direction, they generally follow the biddings of those above them."

Come on now. You don't really believe that do you? Anyone who works in this field knows that its those people (from those who report to CO executives, down to facility administration) who deter new direction. They're usually the ones who have the most tenure in the agency and dont want things to change. They'll do whatever it takes to prevent those underneath them from getting the opportunity for promotion. They'll only look out for their administrator friends (who wont bid for their positions).

A good leader should recognize where the dead weight is hiding and unfortunately its the people who have the most power. Mid-level management are the most powerful employees because they're the ones who work in the field with the staff. CO can only create policy and procedure. Its mid-level management who are responsible for practice and they guide whether it will be a good or bad practice.

Anonymous said...

Exactly my point. But you cannot completely clean house. Conservator has put a plan in place, has people in place he thinks can do the job and now the new ED will come in and take a look at the institutional level. Gadow and Smith will not be going anywhere soon. Regional directors, superintendents, assistant superintendents are next.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that with Senate Bill 103 TYC moved away from some of the central tenets of the Missouri Model. Longer periods of commitment for serious offenders, age of majority at 21 both exist in MO. Now in TYC we are close to being down to only 19 year olds and we are pushing kids out...how does that fit with MO?

Anonymous said...

8:12pm what new policies are you referring too, the new CMS? Direction, what direction are you referring too, the new programs put in place, or are they in place? Leaders we have none and have had none for quite some time, Administrators at the Institutions can only follow the lead from CO, when CO has no clue where their going or where they have been. If we attempt to deter from this mixed signal we have been getting???

Jackline said...

Hi Nice Blog .If your time is less valuable, then it is probably less worthwhile to employee time attendance.

Anonymous said...

My friends like to play it and buy aoc gold. If you have money to buy age of conan gold, you will find it is very useful. Earning conan gold is not so hard. Try your best and then you can get it. I buy cheap aoc gold, just because I like it. So simple the aoc money is.