Monday, September 22, 2008

Jerry Madden on TYC, prison diversion

Dallas Blog has an interview with House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden about the Texas Youth Commission, prison diversion programs, and what to expect in the 2009 legislative session. Give it a read.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read the comments and they avoid the real issues like: Why is the Connections program taking so long to implement? what treatment is being done where it is not implemented? What is the purpose of reducing the number of facilities? Does that not increase the population per facility and increase the number of youth per staff? What exactly is going to be done with the increased Central Office staff size and the high paying jobs created by the conservators? Why after a year and a half are there still misdemeanor youth in TYC? What is being done to increase the effectiveness and staff of the ombudsman? What is being done to increase employee safety and reduce those worker's comp claims? etc. etc.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that Grits. That more information than I've gotten all year on what they're thinking.

Anonymous said...

What thinking?

All I see is politicratic doublespeak. This is positive proof that the people of Dallas need brain transplants if they keep electing this jerk.

Anonymous said...

And, if you believe what he says, he thinks ConExtions is a great success in the pilot at Al Price. Okay...

Anonymous said...

I wish they would just show up at Al Price unannounced and form their own opinion. But this will never happen, they might then know the truth.

To good to walk onto a facility said...

Yes I think that at least one of these guys needs to actually go to a TYC housing wing and see what it is actually like.

There is really nothing like having a bit of urine thrown on a senator... I tell you the first time a senator gets a TYC offender's urine thrown on them there will be positive change in TYC.

They have to actually go to a facility first.

Anonymous said...

What I read between the lines is that TYC will be right back where it was, because the bottom line is it costs too much money to do anything else. Any word on the trials of the two administrators that started the mess?

Anonymous said...

Hey 9:50

What are you talking about? What trial of who? I remember something long, long ago. But it's vague. Please remind us of those events.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hickman

What do you recommend to :increase the effectiveness and staff of the ombudsman" and why do you thing that's so important? You keep raising that issue here.

Anonymous said...

Give Mr. Hickman a job application. He must want to be the Ombudsman.

Anonymous said...

The trial of J.P. Hernandez has been postponed. Ray "XXXRayVijon" Brookins hasn't appeared in court yet.

Anonymous said...

Hernandez and Brookins will probably never go to court. Either they know too much or the cases are weak. Maybe it is a combination of the two. IF there were no problems with their prosecution then their convictions would have been front page news long ago.

I know people who work for TYC and they tell a much different story about how things are inside the current system. I know one lady who had worked for TYC for many years in the education department who quit her job because the kids are allowed to do as they please. She particularly found it unacceptable youth masturbating in class.

If Jerry Madden thinks TYC is much better he is one dumb guy! From what I hear he and other members of the legislature will get an October surprise form past and former TYC employees. Some of the TYC employees who are feed up with the politicians crap have documented an extensive data base of uncontrolled behavior by TYC youth to be presented to the media.

Anonymous said...

"The trial of J.P. Hernandez has been postponed. Ray "XXXRayVijon" Brookins hasn't appeared in court yet."

What no trial, what about the evidence? After all the victims are easy to locate. on the J.P H. side one is in prison out of Wichita Falls facing 30 years on 4 counts (aggravated assault, UUMV and fleeing aprehension. Another is seen in and out of El Paso county jail. Mostly property crimes, burglary. On old X Ray, his victim is in Tarrant county jail awaiting trial on armed robbery and DWI.

I'm not downplaying what they did and the need for them to get justice. Or the cover up by management that happened. But then what could you expect from Chip Harrison a man who abused / neglected a horse and got a JCO to take the fall for him. In exchange for losing the video tape of him (the JCO) chocking a youth till he passed out.

Anonymous said...

7:51 wrote, "documented an extensive data base of uncontrolled behavior by TYC youth"

So you documented it, what should be done? What's your point besides making TYC staff look bad? How do you think it looks to the Legislature when we have the lowest inmate population in years and JCOs still can't control them? All that does is prove Grit's point that you can't control them without shifting to something like the Missouri model.

Whitmire wants to destroy the agency and you want to give him the ammunition!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought Ron Jackson was the pilot for coNEXTions?

Anonymous said...

10:25,

If you read the statute on the ombudsman, you would note that the obligations of the office, which Madden was instrumental in creating, require more than three people and $300,000. The bill analysis recommended 18 people and $1.9 million. With three people it can not do its legislative mandate.

1:25,

I do not want that job. I would have to take a $30,000 pay cut.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Crap, Crap, Crap!!! Would someone please listen to all this crap? Why won't someone go to the Mart II facility and see how well (not!) that TYC is doing??? It is in such horrific shape it is unbelievable. Yeah they (CO)came this summer and "supposedly" helped us! Yeah right...whatever. We are in such dire need, we can't hardly even have school because everyone has quit! Brownwood teachers were asked to come help, and they were so scared they would not even stay more than a week. Everyone in charge just pretends that everything is okay. It is not okay,not at all. Every single aspect of the place is broken. The facility at Mart II used to be one of the finest in the state, now it is so broken I don't think it will ever be able to be fixed. So, whatever Jerry Madden has to say about how much better TYC is, or how wonderful that Conextions and the new MDT teams and all the other is is crap. We have not even had the training, but are expected to use it.Yeah, it started in
Sept. If this were the corporate world, it would be a joke--oh it is a joke--except to the dedicated people that go into that hell hole everyday to try to make a difference. It's a heartbreak to them! The place is screaming out of control, and screaming for help--when will someone listen--really listen?????

Anonymous said...

6:39pm,

I don't work for TYC and have never been to Mart II. However I am really disturbed with your post because I don't understand how state employees (public servants) can be put in this type of environment everyday. How did it get this bad and how long did it take for things to fall apart?

What do you guys need to fix the problem? You mentioned low morale, lack of training and inadequate staffing. Staff safety should be first so can someone please explain how it seems to be last at this facility?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you would complain about Mart II. You have some of the most tenured Administrators at the facility. C. Simmons, C. Barton, and G. Toliver, how can you go wrong?

Anonymous said...

adult probation is the next ticking timebomb! officers are leaving in droves due to excessive caseloads, low morale, retaliation by chiefs/administrators for speaking out and LOW PAY! Madden and Whitmire could care less, too busy drinking at Austin bars and then getting wiatresses fired when they refuse to serve a DRUNK!

Anonymous said...

6:52, I'm far away now, but it seems to have mostly to do with the youth feeling unduly empowered and staff having few tools to deal with them. The kids are mostly felons now, and some are very violent. Staff tend to be reluctant to address behavior for fear of injury, a youth or parent complaint, or an investigation by an OIG/SPU unit that has something to prove.

Release was always the biggest carrot to encourage appropriate behavior, but these days release apparently doesn't depend much on good conduct or completing a program of any sort.

Morale sank very low in 2007, when the whole world was convinced that every third TYC staff member was a child molester/abuser, and has never recovered. The legislature forced TYC do more with less session after session, and ran it into the ground.

Mr. Madden is whistling past the graveyard. There is little prospect of fixing TYC without a huge infusion of money for new facilities, which is not likely. But no other single thing will give TYC and TYC kids a better chance.

Anonymous said...

Mart II was built on a prison model, not on a "Missouri" model.

Anonymous said...

Mart first started going downhill when they had to absorb Marlin. Things then quickly progressed downhill when it was decided to put Mr. Walters at Giddings and move Mr. Berry across the dang state. Then to ensure that Mart would never be the same it was decided to dump more than half of the Coke Co. population into the then recently appointed and unprepared Sup. Curtis Simmons. Since then the facility been unable to recover to even a quarter of it's former glory.

Anonymous said...

Madden needs to take a close look at Autogov. Maybe legislature can take the money TYC is throwing away on that contract and give it to the Ombudsman's office.

Anonymous said...

How can someone take vacation (annual leave) twice in their 4 months of employment?

32 to 40 hours of vacation leave, you wanna talk about a diversion, wish I could qualify for this executive leave plan.

I'm still getting 11 hours of leave a month (earned) and never taking it off because of OT, cant complain about that, just this new diversion plan taking place at CO.

Anonymous said...

TYC has to have more flexibility with placement, to move youth from institutions to less restrictive environments close to home, upon demonstrating positive behavior and program completion (whatever program). Even Missouri has institutions. Texas would do well to add a layer of small low to medium restriction facilities which reflect a Missouri Model. As it is youth know they have no motivation to engage treatment programming until they have 12-18 months left in their MLOS/MPOC.

Anonymous said...

"Release was always the biggest carrot to encourage appropriate behavior, but these days release apparently doesn't depend much on good conduct or completing a program of any sort."

That's not what I saw happen this afternoon. Four months extended based on illegal conduct - Indecent Exposure. That's what we need. Those kids jaws dropped at Mart. And TYC actually did that and no one else. That's what needed to happen.

Anonymous said...

Mart I absorbed Marlin, Mart II absorbed ALL of Coke Co. That was after it had absorbed Al Price after Rita, then Mart I before Marlin came, and then Coke Co. All of this in less than 2 years. No wonder they can't get stable.

Anonymous said...

9:06: ...because Mart was so glorious under Chip and Jeff, right? Oh puhLEEZ! Wake up and see things for what they are.

Anonymous said...

Please explain "Jeff and Chip", who are they. Were they in some role at Mart?

Anonymous said...

Yes, they were the ones responsible for making Mart what it is today. The good folks in CO thought they did such a wonderful job that they decided to promote them. Now can you see why TYC is in the shape it is in?

Anonymous said...

I think that it is irrelevant how good or bad "Jeff and Chip" were. The ultimate failure has been in the Central Office. Like another poster I was receiving 11 hours leave per month when I left. The State had to fork out 3 month pay to me after I had moved to where I ma now. The fact is that the Legislature wants TYC to fail and will not make any effort to save it.

It looks like Madden and Whitmire will finally get their TDCJ-Jr. that they have been wanting for fifteen years.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So 11:56, you're telling us all the complaining that kids are never disciplined at Mart II doesn't correspond to what's happening on the ground? I'm shocked! Shocked! Okay, not really.

To 8:16 who wrote, "The legislature forced TYC do more with less session after session." Well last session they slashed the number of kids in half and left the same budget and staffing, right? So it's curious to me that people here keep saying things are worse than ever. LBB says the number of TYC inmates will go up in the future, so you'll never have more staff to deal with them than you do right now. If these complaints are true, it means the whole TYC model is flawed and unworkable under even the best of circumstances. No wonder Whitmire wants to shut the place down!

Anonymous said...

I have been to the missouri web site. www.dss.mo.gov/dys
They have several 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." If I have 3 years to work with a semi motivated youth, I do belive I can help him make changes. Today the youth don't have any motivation to work since they know we are told to get them out by the MLOS date.

When I was hired they asked me about discipline and treatment. I recall saying you must have a balance of both. One cannot exist without the other. Learning takes place when the person is willing to learn, is able to learn, the material presented is relavent to what needs to be learned, is timely and presented at the appropriate level. We seem to be forgeting that if one youth does not want to learn he woun't and if you allow him to make it where his peers cannot learn they woun't, even if motivated.
ham2mtr

Howard I miss calling you, I always got a straight answer to my questions.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire gave us Pope, and had no complaints when she was spending the budget on Central Office. He had no complaints when she and Bronco were trying to make it a Jr. TDCJ. She got rid of all the treatment-oriented managers at Central Office. Now he wants to close it down because she is gone, but the mess she created remains. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

"So 11:56, you're telling us all the complaining that kids are never disciplined at Mart II doesn't correspond to what's happening on the ground? I'm shocked! Shocked! Okay, not really."

Yes sir that's what I'm saying. We didn't have BMPs prior to 2000, and we managed. We didn't have pepper spray until around 1997, and we still managed. In fact, our cultures were a hell'uva lot better then compared to today. I attribute that to better leadership amongst our JCO supervisors that we had then vs. today. No one whinned like they are whinning now. I work with these people everyday and I sometimes just laugh when I read what they write on your blog site. And I can tell you it's only about a handfull that are posting their cry's on your site. The rest of us just site back and laugh at what these idiots post here.

Anonymous said...

There was a time in the agency’s history that 1 JCO could handle a dorm of 50 to 100 hard core offenders. These guys were pros at this work, and were backed by their supervisors. Prior to the Morales thing the state’s juvenile justice centers ran much more efficient. As long as decent hard working Americans/Texans allow themselves to be subjugated to liberal tyranny the thugs of the world will control US. As one former student on this blog said, let engineers run TYC, I would think they couldn’t screw it up any more than the partisan politicians and the social worker liberals have done already.

Anonymous said...

It also used to be embarassing as all can get to even refer a kid to security. I remember once in 1994 that we didn't have one referral to the security unit. We may have physically held someone after a fight, but we cancelled activity and went right into group, and those kids not involved were the ones who really prevented shit from happening. We need to take these new JCO's to the old school. Hell, if you complained like you're doing now back then, you were seen as unfit for the job and were walked right off that campus.

Anonymous said...

Hey I apologize that I'm just reading this but I was curious as to what Madden meant by this comment:

"Clearly we don’t have the criminal charges issue that was overwhelming in the last session, and there’s actions that have started to be taken against those people who perpetrated the criminal activities at the youth commission. So although I’d like to see those things going faster with the prosecutions, those things are at least taken care of."

Is he referring to Brookins and Hernandez? What is the status of those perverts? Please don't tell me that they are just simply going to walk away again? Something tells me the TYC is going to get blamed again if nothing moves on those cases, and that would be so damn unfair because we can't prosecute anyone. Let's go folks at the AG's office.... what's the freaking status of the case? Please tell!

Anonymous said...

"We need to take these new JCO's to the old school. Hell, if you complained like you're doing now back then, you were seen as unfit for the job and were walked right off that campus."

I somewhat agree, but if you are a "veteran" staff YOU are responsible for grooming these staff to take your place - role model, coach and train them to be as succesful as you were or are currently.Young, motivated staff that are knowledgeable and committed to the agency are the future of TYC and corrections.

You might be working "for" these staff one day- careful what you say!!:-)

Anonymous said...

Grits,
You still seem to be of short temper. It doesn't matter how many youth you have if you do not have a system in place to manage the youth. TYC has seen so many changes and they are implemented extremely poorly so no one really knows what the hell is going on. Again this is only partially TYC's fault. Kimbrough came in and cleared out far too many 2nd and 3rd tier managers. Then we brought in the Big Silo and the Pope who ushered in the likes of Bronco Billy.

It was only in the past couple of months that a qualified person has been put in charge of the implementation of the new treatment program. Changes in procedures are being administered without changes in policy. Everyone feels unsure what the hell is going on because no one really knows. Higher level administrators dictate changes without adequate forethought and appropriate implementation based on different needs at different facilities.

Basically JCO staff have been given extremely mixed messages on how to do their job with virtually no substantive changes to policy. When policy can be interpreted in such severely different ways there is a problem with administration. Nedelkoff is trying to stabilize a ship that essentially had its rudder ripped off and a bunch of people put in charge that knew a lot about battleships but little about sailing, with previous administrations.

Many positive changes are happening in TYC. There is a tide turning towards flexibility in rehabilitation. This is difficult to navigate, especially with such poor communication and implementation.

HamHead said...

"I somewhat agree, but if you are a "veteran" staff YOU are responsible for grooming these staff to take your place - role model, coach and train them to be as succesful as you were or are currently.Young, motivated staff that are knowledgeable and committed to the agency are the future of TYC and corrections."

Hell if you guys would quit running off the dorm when shit goes down, that may happen! I aint kidding you one bit. We have got to get staff that are balanced in their thinking, and quit being scared of these kids. That's what's happening now. Use the group process and stand firm and you'll see the difference. The problem I see is that these JCO's are quick to utlize security referrals as a means to punish or control. That's a sign of weakness, but more so to those kids than your co-workers, and that being, Man up. Deal with the problems and quit you're freaking complaining.

By complaining, you're just being like those kids. Quit being a coward.

Hamhead said...

Oh and I forgot to address this comment which is, at least, hilarious:

"You might be working "for" these staff one day- careful what you say!!:-)"

Yeah, I might be working off those calories after I consume them, as soon as they stay on the dorm - which they won't. I always craved chickens.

Anonymous said...

9:50 & 9:59...you just nailed it!

Anonymous said...

Jerry Madden does not mention the fate of Victory Field...he really should come check us out. We've got dedicated staff who do their jobs well,and coNextions is up and running.

We have an EXCELLENT program, free of all the problems I read about on this blog, yet they want to close US down? It just doesn't add up!

Anonymous said...

The worst thing that happened with SB103 is that the legislature tied the hands of TYC when it said that basically EVERYONE leaves on their MLOS. Although there were probably some abuses, most helped the kids.
A kid knows that as long as he doesnt hit someone, he can disrupt each and every program - every hour - and still go home on his MLOS. How ridiculous!!!
Thanks Lege!!!

Anonymous said...

9:50 & 9:59...you just nailed it!
When I was in Gatesville in the 70s we respected our dorm man and matrons. 40 to 45 little bad ass’ were kept in check by 1 man, this is true. Group kept many of us out of cic and at our levels for our normal gladiator activity. Having our heads knocked together helped to chill us out for group. 1 dorm man. If we had a dorm man or whatever and they showed the least bit of fear, well we just lined up to chew them up and crap them out, purely for our amusement. Are the kids any different today then back in the day, perhaps, IMO I don’t think so. I will guarantee y’all this you can’t have a punk or punks holding a dorm. Punks that are just by nature indecisive and weak in the heart, to use a biblical metaphor, or punked by a flawed management system. Either way you can’t have a punk or punks holding a dorm. After 120 years I would think y’all would at the very least have that one figured out by now.
Thanks for the shout out to engineers running TYC. Like Mr. Hickman I could not take the pay cut to run TYC, although what an ironic twist of faith, in a time when the state boys are running the show, a former “student” becomes the TYC ED. What would I do first reboot or power cycle. I think power cycle.
Thanks for the student designation as well but I was a student at UT, at Gatesville I was a state boy ,“G”, “G whitey”. The lowest form of human life on the planet earth, so we were told. I’m very proud of my success on the road from state boy to student to successful engineer, an ongoing process I humorously refer to as breaking norms.
Sheldon TYC#47333

Anonymous said...

As chance would have it, I had the opportunity to talk with three different people who currently work for TYC. One is from TYC Central Office and the other two are from one of the Mart Units. All three are looking for other jobs. The CO person has been with TYC CO for many years and is just tired of the insanity. The other two both have over ten years and are concerned about their safety and working conditions. They report the youth are in charge and do as they please with no fear. The school is gutted at Mart because school teachers and aids can find other work in the numerous school districts which are often closer to their homes. Many of the professional staff have walked out as well in the psychology department. Grits if you want to know just how bad things are go to work as a JCO or in the education department at Mart. You will actually know what is really going on inside of TYC instead of getting your information second or third handed plus a nice spin job. I am tired of a bunch of people who worked for TYC back in the day talking about how great they were. TYC is nothing like it was ten years ago. The place is full of hardened gang bangers that would make most of you pee in your pants if you were locked in a room with them. So many people want to voice their opinion on TYC when they know nothing about what TYC youth are like. Most of you have some vague notion TYC youth are a group of poor mistreated children who just need a hug. Most of them are violent criminals who would kill you without the slightest care. Since many of you think all they need is love why don't you be a foster parent to the ones released? You can show how it is done. Volunteer at TYC and make a difference. I would like to see how long you last working with the population at Mart. Until you have walked in the shoes of a TYC staff member at Mart I think you should show a hell of a lot more respect for them and what they go through for you r ungrateful butt!

Anonymous said...

"what an ironic twist of faith, in a time when the state boys are running the show, a former “student” becomes the TYC ED"

The new ED of TYC has a criminal record! What the HELL is going on? The Ombudsman has a criminal record that required a policy change so he could keep working. Current policy doesn't allow a person with a know criminal history to work at TYC. Even a Full Pardon will not do these days to allow you to work at TYC. Wow what fuel for the law suits!

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of us are saying we are great. What we are saying is that before the big move to treating youth like inmates, working conditions were far better for all of us. The program was entirely different from what people who have only worked here 10 or 12 years ever knew. People were not working back-to-back 12s, because most of the YAS jobs were filled. People usually got to take vacation when they wanted, as long as they put in for it 3 months in advance. There were relatively few staff or youth injuries. And guess what, we had killers, rapists and gang-bangers back then.

We are now reaping the whirlwind for the culture of intimidation that pervaded this agency from about 1994 on.

BTW, I still work with these kids every day. I'm not big, I'm not intimidating, yet they usually do what I ask them to do. I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

1:42...my guess is that they respect you because you treat them fairly and with dignity. I bet you also have integrity, and you are a good role model too. I'm almost positive that you are fair, firm and consistent when dealing with the youth in your care. Amazing how that works isn't it?

I've been with the agency, as a direct-care employee for 11 years, so I am positively 100% CERTAIN this is the recipe for success for working successfully with TYC youth.

Anonymous said...

What is Madden thinking?

Anonymous said...

Someone finally hit the nail head. If you treat youth with respect, you usually get respect back. Those who abused youth, restrained twice as hard as they needed to, and ignored other abuse and corruption brought about the implosion of TYC. What about those who sexually abused youth and still walk away? How about those who covered for their administrator sex abusers? Why didn't some of you complain when all this was taking place. If you chose to look the other way...you were part of the problem!

Anonymous said...

We had a culture change back in the mid-90's. Slam-'em, bang 'em, and make them behave. Pencil whip the treatment, to make a show, since everybody knew that what these kids really needed was not treatment, but discipline. De-escalation skills and group skills fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, the majority of current employees have less than 12 years with the agency, so they have know nothing else. It is time for another culture change.

Anonymous said...

To 9/29: many people did report their suspicions to their supervisors. The problem is that a key person in the management chain chose to dismiss their concerns, and blocked efforts to have a full investigation. What is really outrageous is that there was no resident investigator assigned to WTSS. That was a recipe for disaster, as subsequent events proved.

I'm concerned about the fact that following the scandal, the investigative staff was actually cut by Ms Pope, and now, almost a year after her departure, it still has not been restored. There are currently only 6 abuse investigators covering the entire state, including contract programs, and only 7 criminal investigators covering the same territory.
This leads me to believe that no-one, particularly the legislature, is really interested in protecting kids from predators and innocent staff from bogus allegations.

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