Monday, November 24, 2008

Can TYC make juveniles register as sex offenders?

From the Dallas News Crime Blog:

The Tarrant County District Attorney's office is asking the state Attorney General whether the Texas Youth Commission can make juveniles register as sex offenders.

The DA's question to the AG: "Does TYC have the authority under § 87.85(g)(3) of the Texas Administrative Code to require an offender to register as a sex offender, notwithstanding that provision conflicts with the juvenile court's authority under article 62.352(b)(1) and (c) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and the juvenile court has opted to exercise its authority to defer a decision on registration?"

See a copy of the letter from DA Tim Curry's office to the attorney general: tarrantcountyAG.pdf

From the DA's letter, here's the exact issue at question:
Specifically, your opinion is sought on whether section 87.85(g)(3) of the Texas Administrative Code, which authorizes TYC to require the registration of juvenile offenders who are discharged from TYC without successfully completing treatment, is in conflict with article 62.352(c) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which grants the juvenile court continuing jurisdiction on this issue. (Ed. note: links added)
Interesting question. It seems like, from this non-attorney's perspective, that when the administrative code and an actual statute conflict, the greater weight is usually given to what the Legislature penned as opposed to agency-generated rules. But it's hard to predict how AG Greg Abbott will decide because there's no telling these days whether the opinion will be a political statement or a legal interpretation - we've seen his office issue both in recent times in the guise of AG opinions, and lately anything related to sex offenders inevitably takes on a highly politicized air.

Making the matter more difficult, the TAC language in question specifically declares, "If the duty to register has been deferred and the youth is discharged from TYC without successfully completing treatment for sex offense, the PSW shall register the youth." However the Sunset evaluation report on TYC (pdf) criticized the agency for failing to provide sex offender treatment to all youth for whom courts had ordered it. Page 16 of the Sunset report (p. 23 of the pdf) declares:
of the 284 youth TYC identifi ed as in need of sexual behavior treatment programming in fiscal year 2007, only 46 percent were enrolled in such a program. Furthermore, only 50 percent of the youth enrolled that year completed the program.
What's more, in FY 2008 the agency only used 61% of its specialized treatment budget, say Sunset staff (p. 16). In other words there was money available to pay for treating more kids, TYC just couldn't get its act together.

Given that, here's my question: If youth fail to complete required sex offender treatment because the agency is not fulfilling its own responsibilities, should youth be placed on the sex offender registration rolls over the objection of the judge in the case? That seems to be the crux of the dispute, and to the extent that's what's happening, youth are being punished because TYC's not doing its job.

I'm curious to learn more about exactly how and when TYC adds youth to the sex offender rolls and how frequently that happens over a local judge's objections.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

50% of 46% isn't an encouraging number. - BB

Anonymous said...

Why would anybody want to keep track of sex offenders?

Anonymous said...

No youth is placed on sex offender registration over the objections of the committing juvenile judge since the juvenile judge has continuing jurisdiction. A juvenile judge makes the initial registration determination and unless that judge issues another order the registration will occur or if it occurs the judge should be able to set TYC's registration action aside under continuing jurisdiction, which is the question Tarrant County should ask. Additionally they should be asking about how the federal law registering sex offenders affects juvenile offenders.

Howard A. Hickman

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Howard, it does seem like the law gives judges sole authority to make that decision then TYC's TAC claims they can do it on their own. Do you not see any conflict in the two provisions? I do.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the issue is. As far as I'm aware, the committing judge issues the order for deferred registration, and TYC simply follows through with making sure the youth registers if he doesn't complete treatment. The committing judge retains the jurisdiction over whether the youth registers or not and can reverse his decision if, for example, the family petitions for that after the youth completes an aftercare SO program. TYC is simply following through on what the judge ordered by making kids register.

Anonymous said...

I'm really interested in the factoid that TYC isn't using all of the treatment budget. That's inexcusable, particularly given that we're losing good treatment staff to better paying jobs outside of TYC.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent topic. It is the youth who pay for TYC's failures to provide treatment and sex offenders pay a heavy toll.

Anonymous said...

Having worked in one of TYC's more notorious units, which happened to have a sex offender program, I can proudly (tongue in cheek) say that the program usually had the weakest Case Workers on campus, often undegreed. These persons made the program so difficult that only certain students could get through it. These students were either pets, or extremely bright.

I recall one such young man, who completed the program and went out and reoffended shortly after release.

Note, this is only anecdotal and does not reflect the trus nature of sex offender behavior, but it points out how poorly trained the CWs were on that unit.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The issue, 9:28, is two-fold. First, the law authorized judges to put kids on the SO rolls, not TYC, whose authority to do so comes from the TAC but apparently is not authorized under law. The question is whether they assumed more authority through rulemaking than is really theirs.

Second, if TYC is not providing SO treatment services, it's not the youths' fault if they haven't completed it by the time they're released. TYC shouldn't punish kids by putting them on the SO rolls when the reason their treatment didn't happen is TYC didn't provide it.

Anonymous said...

grits

I agree there is a major issue with the sex offenders and Deferred sex offenders who go to the general programs. There is nothing that resembles sex offender or chemical dependency treatment for that matter. I was at a meeting where the powers to be at the time actually said we must educate the judges, to the general programs having treatment programs....So is it a lie to send out a letter with my signature, saying the youth completed SO treatment, when he only went to a general program and didn't really do much while in it.
The deferred youth should have the opportunity to go through a real TYC treatment program and if they fail, well registration occurs.
Or, maybe TYC needs to bring the issue back to the Judge for a ruling based on treatment recieved and the youth's participation.
We often see youth who fail SO treatment on Probation and get a second chance with TYC on the deferment only to be sent to a general program, because they failed treatment while on probation.

As far as qualified treatment staff, that has already been covered as restated by 3:35.

Ham2mtr

FleaStiff said...

I don't really know if there are any treatment programs for sex offenders. Don't most of those prison programs involve reliving the crime from the point of view of the victim and isn't that simply a way of entertaining the offenders? I don't think any statistics exist on the effectiveness of these treatment programs so I don't see how valid decisions can be made on committing funds to them much less using those funds.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FleaStiff, lots of research exists on sex offender treatment and recidivism. You simply don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

We were told I believe that if our nephew completed the general Resocialization program, since at that time this new one was not out, and he attained a phase A4B4C4, then he would not have to register as a sex offender when he got out. We were told that this Resocialization addressed offense specific behaviors. I went down and saw my nephew many times while he was in TYC and he was not in any "treatment program for sex offenders" I know because I am a licensed therapist, (an LPC)and though my practice is not in the area of sex offender treatment, I have many colleagues who are licensed in this area. My husband and I don't have any children and we agreed to take my nephew as he was not allowed to go home because there was a 'potential victim' in the house. Note please that the potential victim was his 13 year old sister, and there was never an incident described of his acting out sexually in the home. He was charged with indecency with a child for having sexual contact at age 15 with his 13 y o girlfriend. The original charge was sexual assault. Personally I think it is crazy to punish kids for normal experimentation with sexual activity, but that is another story. The 13 year old 'victim' did not testify against him because she said what happened was not against her will and thus he was pled down. The good news is that my nephew got out of TYC and has completed their joke of parole program. He had to do community service, which he had done in under 2 months and be enrolled in school or spending 40 hours per week doing something "constructive." He had his GED when he left TYC, but chose to go back and get his regular diploma. He is enrolled in community college and has not had to register. I shudder to think of what would happen if he did because it would most certainly impact him when he goes away to North Texas in January. Now that he is off parole he is allowed back with his parents. Ironically we found out after he was with us that TYC could have done some reintegration plan and allowed him back with his folks in the first place, but this was never done. I asked about him being able to attend sex offender treatment once he was on parole and was told that since he had not had any primary treatment, he was not eligible for services unless we wanted to pay for them. It was certainly screwy the way TYC handled things. He supposedly received treatment through Resocialization, but did not really have treatment, so he was not eligible for aftercare. I am just grateful that this has worked out in his case and he did what he needed to do to get out. He was in there for a little over a year.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like, if the TYC is so bad at doing its job and the kids are suffering for it, the judges need to stop sending them to TYC and find some other alternative that can actually rehabilitate them. But what other options do they have right now?

Anonymous said...

11:20 a.m. I work in TYC and the first thing that came to my mind was why the hell did the judge send a kid like that to us? What county are you from? Smith? Williamson?

I had a 13 year old that came in from Smith county. He was charged with Indecency with a child at 13 years old when he was caught jacking off by his sister and didn't immediately stop. His luck would have it that he actually had to register for that offense. No priors either.

Glad to hear your newphew is doing so well, but honestly, if that's all he did and had no priors, he got screwed by that judge too.

Anonymous said...

Grits,

TYC does not decide who to place on sex offender registration. The committing judge makes that decision and once that decision is made TYC is obligated by another statute to classify and register. In cases where a judge orders a youth to not register if he completes treatment, the judge has the authority to change that decision. The judges and prosecutors receive notice before a youth is released and can schedule whatever action they want to. Under Resocialization a youth would have to complete treatment before release to parole so the youth would meet the completion of treatment requirement in the order for non-registration. Under the current lack of treatment program unless a youth completes the specific sex offender treatment program (which would not be possible under the old sex offender treatment program because it required more time than the current 6 month commitment allows)the judges's order would require registration. It would not be TYC ordering the registration but the committing judge who failed to act after the release notification.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

To clarify the TAC, that rule just implments the judges order or in the cases where there is no specific order the statutes that require registration if there is no judicial action

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

TYC is not using all of its specialized treatment budget simply because the legislature put totally unreasonable restrictions on who could probide SOTP. TYC had to close several of its SOT Programs because there is a severe shortage of SOTP-qualified providers in the state.

Anonymous said...

Bottom Line! Juvenilles should NOT be placed on the "sex offender" registry, PERIOD! Are they not the "children" we are trying to protect? What is wrong with people these days? Our entire neighborhhod played "doctor and nurse" when we were young. This is normal. Got caught a couple of times, grounded for a month, and no more "doctor and nurse". My goodness, no wonder the jails and prisons are over-crowded!

Anonymous said...

While I am not a licensed therapist, I did notice at San Saba/John Shero, there seemes to be a concerted effort to keep kids in the program as long as they could, to make kids go back through the specialized treatment at least three times and then make certain that licensed therapists were the last people to deal with the kids.

Thank God I am out of that horrible world. I have often wondered at the final fates of those adults who became upwardly mobile in TYC due to their abuse of kids who were incarcerated.

Anonymous said...

Some of those upward bound staff were promoted by top TYC management, knowing they were involved in sex abuse of confined youth. HOW can they and those that covered for them get away? WHY doesn't the public step up and demend they be placed in prison, friends of the governor or not!

Anonymous said...

11/25@9:35 pm - surely you jest! I hope you are not so naive as to really believe what you said! While there are always exceptions to "prove the rule," these kids were not sent to TYC for "playing doctor." A 17 year old who has sex with a 5 year old is not "playing doctor"! A 16 year old who gets his 13 year old sister drunk and then has sex with her is not playing either. A 17 year old who puts a knife to the neck of a woman and rapes her is not playing doctor, either. How about a 15 year old who molests numerous children he babysat for? Or how about the 15 year old who molested his 2 and 3 year old siblings? (he became a cause celebre in TYC, BTW). These are your more typical cases of sex offenders in TYC.

Anonymous said...

Grits, your lit review on sex offender treatment effectiveness is severely lacking in depth. Sex offender treatment has been shown to have some effectiveness with offenders who are not serial offenders. For the sexual predator, there is no treatment paradigm that has, as yet, been developed that has any effectiveness whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Currently, there are no treatment programs being implemented at the Texas Youth Commission - Not effectively. The new illogical, asinine rules make it impossible to deliver services to the juveniles. The PA's, caseworkers, psychologists and jco's s cannot provide implement programs. They have no control and there can be no treatment without control. Common sense is dead and I mourn it's loss. The new policies have stripped staff of their ability to to do their jobs. The new management might as well have placed the staff in straight jackets, pushed them in a pool and ordered them to swim. They are drowning, believe me. I am a tenured former TYC employee. It makes me sick to watch what is being done to the Texas Youth Commission. The resocialization program was effective in the early days as were the specialized treatment programs. Why, because there were consequences for negative behavior, and no I don't mean physical violence. The youth at the Texas Youth Commission are out of control. The staff are abused by the current management and the kids and the kids, each other. Th majority of the staff spend their days just trying to put out fires, not get fired and live to tell about it. Back to sex offenders, It's potluck on the youth being released to live among you. Some got a bad rap and are not a threat, most are in need of intensive therapy and are dangerous. At any rate, they are not getting much treatment, if any. The staff, for the most part are doing the best they can. The current regime remind me of the SS during WWII, but they are no where near as smart. I've never seen such a confederacy dastardly dunces, with severe cases of little man/woman complex. Unbelievable!! They employees are afraid to open their mouths and I understand why. I do hope that some of them will decide to speak up. I hope Lawrence Young, PSA Mart, will file a grievance. He did not deserve to be demoted. Ms. ghetto fabulous is a cruel joke. She should be demoted. Of course there are some rotten apples among the frontline employees but I contend it is the current management. As they say, the fish rots from the head. I support the staff and am sorry for what they are having to endure. They need their jobs. I hope someone somewhere will take some action. The new guard, I mean from Govenor Perry on down are responsible for making a mockery of juvenile corrections in Texas. SOS. My hats off to all of the decent hardworking citizens that are still working for the Texas Youth Commission. They are to be commended for having the fortitude to stay. committment

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 12:45, those links werent presented as a comprehensive lit review. Fleastiff said there's no such thing as sex offender treatment and I just pointed out that's not correct. The truth is there are relatively few "serial sexual predators" compared to the number of people, e.g., on the sex offender registration rolls. In many instances there are treatment options with demonstrably positive success rates on recidivism. Do they work for the worst of the worst? No. But that's not the point I was rebutting.

Anonymous said...

In response to the title of this post - One thing is clear to me: TYC will do whatever it wants regardless of what the law or anyone else says. Watch as this agency brings back the old guard for their own arrogant self-satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

What if you found out that your 16 yr. old neighbor had brutally raped a 21 yr. old male crippled man confined to a wheel chair? He did not have to register and was out in 6 months. He failed to complete sex offender treatment, he repeatedly exposed his penis to youth and staff and instigated numerous altercations. He never showed remore for his crime. Would you be relieved that he did not have to register.

You are a caseworker on the SO dorm. You are attempting to conduct group but all the kids are watching the 13 yr. old boy committed to TYC for raping his 3 yr. old sister, masturbate. Some of the boys are laughing and exposing themselves and the others are angry. Two boys begin to fight and another boy is about to hit the 13 yr. old that was masturbating. They ignore your attemps to intervene, you call security and end up having to restrain one of the boys. He struggles and both of you fall. He has bruises on his face and his nose is bleeding. You have a twisted ankle. The boy calls CPS hotline and the omsbudsman and reports that you abused him. The camera is unclear. You are in under investigation, you missed 3 days work and had to return on light duty. Your supervisor wants to know why your paperwork is not done. He also wants to know why you released another one of your students to regular population without him knowing his offence cycle. Your supervisor tells you that the Ass. super. wants you to be given a written reprimand. What would you?

You are a P.A. You are short 12 staff and everybody has been working overtime. You are in meeting most of the day monday, tues. and wednesday. You miss the 4:00 wed deadline for turning in your overtime justifications. There have also been 3 fights on your dorm and your security referrals are up. You have more boys on your dorm than the other PA's and less staff. Your supervisor demands an explanation and gives you a reprimand. A few days later a coworker tells you that there is a rumor that you are going to be demoted. three days later you are. What would you do.

This is not fiction, just slightly altered. It happens daily through out the agency.

Anonymous said...

Cased should be evaluated on an individual basis. Certainly a 17 yr. old that had consentual sex with a 14 yr. old should not be scarred for life. At the same time we must be diligent about monitoring pedophiles. One pedophile can damage many lives, and often their victims end up offending themselves, thus creating a devastating cycle. I live in a very small town. A local minister was able to abuse at least 40 boys over a ten year period before being exposed. Many of the boys mothers refused to believe it happened, causing more harm to their children. Two of those boys assaulted their younger siblings and were sentenced to TYC. Forty boys were identified. The police know there are more.

Anonymous said...

Grits:

Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 62.053 requires TYC to register every youth who has been adjudicated for a sex offense. This requirement is automatic and does not require a specific order from the court requiring the youth to register. The requirement to register a youth is mandatory unless the court orders that the youth is not required to register or defers the decision pending completion of treatment for the sex offense while the youth is in TYC under Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 62.352.

It would help if people stated the law correctly. TYC is required to comply with the law. If a you has a duty to register, TYC is required to register the youth. If the court does not want the youth to register, the court must issue the order.

Anonymous said...

1103: What you state is true. But this has gone on in TYC for years, it is not new to this regieme. Institutions differ somewhat, but generally, the management of TYC has been haphazard for ten years. Without drastic change, it will continue.

The Dragon said...

If Texas chooses to implement more of the Adam Walsh Act then this whole discussion become moot as the AWA requires registration of juveniles as young as 14:

This taken directly from the USDOJ website.
Under AWA §111(8) it is now mandatory for certain convicted juvenile sex offenders to take the necessary actions to comply with current state and federal sex offender registration requirements. In order to be required to register as a juvenile, three criteria must be met:
1) The offender is 14 years of age or older at the time of the offense.
2) The offender was adjudicated delinquent for that offense.
3) The offense was comparable to or more severe than aggravated sexual abuse (as described in Section 18 USC § 2241), or was an attempt or conspiracy to commit such an offense.

While I, as a registered sex offnder, recognize societies desire and need for security, the AWA is a travesty of justice which seems to further encourage islation and segregation of sex offenders - when they have the same needs as any other offender trying to reintegrate into society.

Anonymous said...

My son wa at Crockett. His caseworker at the time was Brenda Lawson. She was good with him , held him accountable for everything he did and went through his crime with him with the information she obtain of his arrest report not his lies. She kept up with me and let me work back into his life even when he didn't want it because of his denial. She went the extra mile and also intergratted his family when it was time. I dont' know what happen to her but TYC should of kept her around. Lance's mother.

Anonymous said...

Some of the youth who are sex offenders come in lying about their offense . They still sexually act out. You wouldnot believe the notes and stories we here who is gioing with who and who has kiss who when staff was not looking. Its a nasty place to work but someone has to do it. As far as a decent program I have yet to see one in TYC. Most of the caseworkers are not qualified and the ones that are are so overwhelmed with their caseloads they can not concentrate on on;y the sex offenders. Believe me you want them in a program and you want them to register.

Anonymous said...

3:51 I don't respond to people bashing when its on the blog, but this time I have to say. Bless your hearts, we know what you say is truthful. All were so happy he left CRTC. We feel your pain.

Is it true or things have changed with progress, but sex offenders are never cured no matter what age?
I beleive that they should have to register for the communities safety. I would want to know if my child was sitting in school with a sex offender from TYC or anywhere else. I think we are giving these kids to many "rights" after committing the crimes. Why do we need to protect the offender? We should be protecting the Victims.

The Dragon said...

10:51 It is NOT true that sex offenders are never able to control their actions (never cured).
Recidivism among sex offenders, at approx 5%, is the lowest except for those who commit homocide (from US Department of Justics Statistcs).
Your child is quite probably safer sitting in a classroom with a treated sex offender than at home where most sex offenses occur - in excess of 90% of all new sex offenses are committed by someone with whom the victim is familiar, with family members being at the top of that list (again, from Depart of Justice Statistics).
For everyones safety, please take a look at these and other FACTS before "painting us all with the same brush".

Anonymous said...

You Crockett trolls need to go somewhere else. Please. We are tired of hearing about it.