(Those interested in the TYC hearing can go here for the live feed - scroll down past the very important item "to Study the Practice of Breeding White-Tailed and Mule Deer")
In the introduction, Bush returns to a theme he's repeated often in reaction to various reforms by the agency and the Legislature in discussions here on Grits:
juvenile justice agencies and policymakers have often repeated past mistakes - almost verbatim. Consensus among juvenile justice practitioners and experts had held since at least the 1940s that juveniles are best rehabilitated by individualized care, delivered close to their families and communities. However, this approach rarely has been put into practice, largely due to perceived costs, which suggests a third lesson: juvenile justice requires sustained support, resource investment, and vision. Many of the worst abuse scandals and missteps have stemmed from meager budgets, and the inadequate services, poorly trained employees, and unqualified administrators that result.Lots of good stuff in Bush's report. For example, how many TYC employees knew they owed their jobs thanks to do-gooder activism from the Texas chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in the 1880s?And who is surprised that even then rural communities bid to subsidize youth prison construction because they were "eager for the anticipated jobs"?
These perpetual problems have been repeatedly unearthed by the press, only to be reburied again once the public's anger has passed.
Equally familiar were claims by employees and their legislative champions that a reform statute passed in 1947 "would result in the inmates 'taking over' the institutions." They didn't, of course, but we've seen the same ridiculous claim made in response to virtually every proposed reform over the last year in dozens of Grits' comment strings.
I didn't know that the practice of "indeterminate sentencing" dates all the way back to 1913. Or that TYC's then-lone facility in Gatesville was under control of the adult prison system until 1909. Certainly the accounts of segregated TYC units for blacks and the rise of separate girls' facilities was all new to me, too. Bush details the juvenile side of the important cycle of prison reforms in the 1920s, spearheaded again by women's temperance and Christian groups (like the YWCA), whose efforts ultimately ended the practice of using youth prison labor as contractors for private businesses.
I'm looking forward to reading the full thing more carefully when I get the chance and may have more to say about it then. Certainly the TYC saga already has provided plenty of fodder over the last year and a half for Bush's 'history repeats itself' theme, so I'm equally looking forward to future installments of this multi-part history.