Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Will new House committee oversee juvenile justice?

Commitee assignments haven't been made yet in the Texas House, but the Austin Statesman's Mike Ward reported yesterday that under a new, proposed committee structure contemplated in proposed House rules:
the House Corrections committee would lose its authority over the Youth Commission. It would be moved to a new Juvenile Justice Committee, which would also oversee the Office of Independent Ombudsman.

In the past two years since a sex-abuse and coverup scandal, the Corrections Committee has pressed Youth Commission officials hard to fully implement reforms — too hard, agency officials have complained. They have continued to drag their feet at being held accountable for continuing problems, committee members and staffers have countered.

The change comes as the Sunset Advisory Commission recently recommended a merger of the Youth Commission and the state Juvenile Probation Commission, a change that both agencies — and some aides to Gov. Rick Perry — have opposed.

Indeed, Madden's Corrections Committee chairmanship may be in jeopardy, Ward reported:
Word is circulating fast and furious this afternoon that Madden, a longtime supporter of deposed House Speaker Tom Craddick, may get the boot as chairman of House Corrections.
However, I'm not sure I agree with Ward's assessment that:
By ending the Corrections Committee’s authority over the Youth Commission, the agency could perhaps get an easier ride in the House this session. But that won’t help in the Senate, where the Criminal Justice Committee appears to want to keep the heat on the Youth Commission.

Opponents of the change say it is reprisal for Corrections Committee members, especially Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, demanding continued accountability from Youth Commission officials.

Supporters claim Madden and others have pushed too hard and should get the boot.

I'd imagine the change has more to do with greasing the skids for some version of a merger between TYC and the Juvenile Probation Commission, about which Madden had been skeptical, than some latent concern that Madden has been laying the whip too hard to TYC!

MORE: Ward has this update announcing that his prediction may have been premature:

Late word this evening of a push by House Democrats and some Republicans to keep the Texas Youth Commission under the jurisdiction of the House Corrections Committee. ...

Instead of having a Juvenile Justice Committee, a Public Safety Committee is being supported to have oversight over state law enforcement agencies.


Anonymous said...

To me, this represents an important shift--at least a symbolic shift. It stands for the notion that juvenile justice is a very different from adult corrections.

It is also in keeping with the Sunset recomendations in that that of will provide common oversight for both TYC and TJPC if the two agencies remain seperate.

Frankly, it never made sense to have TJPC report to one committee and TYC report to another.

Anonymous said...

Ward is dishonest again in his reporting. There is nothing that says Madden would not be on the new committee. Any legislator can engage in TYC oversight even if they are not on that committee anyway.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Frankly, it never made sense to have TJPC report to one committee and TYC report to another."

I'll certainly give you that!

It's also always been true that the Corrections Committee - which last year only had seven members - has always had a lot on its plate.

Anonymous said...

So this will dis-joint the Joint Select Committee on
the Operation and Management of the Texas Youth Commission?

Anonymous said...

Refactor tyc
You can’t take a tired old decrepit plow horse and beat it until it wins the triple crown let alone expect it to do what it’s supposed to do, like plow a row. How can even a house committee expect to whip into shape a 120 year old culture of covering up child abuse like tyc. Even in the bad ol days when gatesville was being closed the tyc duped the legislators into praising the child abusers of coryell county for a wonderful job they’re doing. Those people even got a citation.
The more former tyc students I meet and greet the more I’m discovering how good tyc is at covering up the failure to do their jobs.
The parbage in gatesvile was spread to the little boys home in giddings in 1981 while gainsville already had its own 60 year culture of child abuse with bwood doing all that it could to catch up. Now we have this merged mess of a child abuse culture born from these different ignorant rural worlds with people in Austin doing all they can to cover their failings. Which leaves little time to fix anything.
I have had the privilege to get to know a man who was at west tex for several years as a state boy and all I can say is the media was kind to tyc, and you west tex people know what I’m talking about. That place should be burned to the ground, have the ground plowed over. God has a special place for those cruel and unusual people of tyc west tex unit.
As I make more contacts with former tyc students and hear their chilling stories I have come to discover that the kids in the last 10 years have had it worst than any of the kids throughout tyc 120 year history of child abuse. These poor young adults think that the professional work world is a non team player environment where everyone is out to get everyone. Its worst than talking to kids with parents who degrade getting a college education. I respond that if I had emps like they experienced in tyc I would fire them. IMO the beatings were bad but I would rather have the beating than to be verbally abused and manipulated by stupid people I can’t do anything about. That’s the stuff that stays with a kid and scars them for life, and could go a long way to explain the higher recidivism rate over the years since MvT.

Problem solving is very difficult and that’s why not many people go into engineering. But when you throw in policies like affirmative action and low pay; well you get what you get. When I speak to potential juvenile delinquents I tell them you do not want to go to tyc because it will make you worse. Then I tell them why. The tyc team, if you can call them that, is an overall failure and should be refactored.

Sheldon tyc#47333 c/s

Anonymous said...

I can’t stand what tyc has done and continues to do in the most arrogant and weaselly way to the throw away kids of Texas. It’s a shame that its been allowed to go on for so long. All I can do is research and talk to people and be as vocal as I can be about that abusive culture.
Sheldon tyc#47333 c/s

Anonymous said...

Sheldon. there is a lot of bad things that TYC does not want out to the public. The lege wants it veiled and many just want it to go away..."The sex case at WTSS is enough", thats all they want to hear about. Keep up you research.

Anonymous said...

Spin, Spin, Spin, and confuse the issue until everyone forgets the real problems. Change this and change that and call it all fixed. What BS. The TYC show is pure snake oil. Don't waste your time following the TYC Traveling Snake Oil Show because it is all political spin. Our government is so corrupt. It doesn't matter who is on what committiee.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Henson, Off Topic here, but can you tell me if the Legislators met today on TYC? I have not been able to find that meeting if it was scheldued. I thought it had been.

Anonymous said...

This does look like posturing for the new committee on Juvenile Justice to oversee the consolidation and the new department.

Anonymous said...

Listen as a long time resident of the Giddings State School. 1995-2003. I have seen the bad of both sides. By the way I was a VOB so I had a 12 month stay. The sexual, verbal, and physical abuse is real. But at the same time there is good in that system. You have staff like Robert Tony, and David Davis, and Gloria Sandling, Ida Bresino, Mr. Sanders, Doug and Gloria Mach, Patti Homan and so many more. And they can tell you that things are broken. There is now so much chain of comand that there is no helping these kids. Now it is just about watching them. Get rid of staff and replace them with Camrras. I am sorry but that is just wrong. There are bad staff. But let remember its not always about the staff. These kids need help with so much more. These committees need to know that these kids need to re-learn. As David Davis used to say. "its all about the basics. If we start back at the begainning it can all be fixed." This coming from a student, father, and victim. Hope you guys understand my babble. Respectfully hopeful

Anonymous said...

7:30 and Sheldon,
I understand there have been and still are some issues but I think Sunset is on the right track. Lets start fresh, have probation and TYC work together and try to bring something good out of this mess. I have follow Sheldon's posts and there are no words to express the pain I feel for what you went thru. I do hope things have improved and believe there are some good people in TYC. Lets think outside the box, help the new agency develop and not remain "status quo".

Anonymous said...

probation is run by the counties, merging them TYC and TJPC is not the same as probation and TYC working together. The really scary thing is that no matter what it is a mathematical certainty that TYC will run the show at some point, there are less than 70 employees at TJPC, and 2500 at TYC. Where will the future leaders come from? Mark my word 6 years from now, TJJD officials will talk about what a poor job the counties are doing.

Anonymous said...

7:56, There are no leaders in TYC, so let's hope they come from probation.

Anonymous said...

There are no leaders at TJPC either, just smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

I would agree that the corrections committee has become to personal with the TYC issue. When you have a senator who places his own girl in a position of authority over this agency and then she gets the boot????

His judgment is swayed and he has become vindictive and is not looking at whats in the best interest of the youth or staff for this agency. If you recall back when she was leading (laugh) this agency he was in the shadows and rarely had a harsh word, I guess this was just a coincidence?

If TYC cannot move out of corrections then I would propose new leadership from both houses that have juvenile expertise and no agendas!!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused .... can someone tell me how TJPC and TYC not working together has caused the problems at TYC or with the juvenile justice system?

I just don't see it.

Anonymous said...

1/28/2009 12:36, I am not getting it either. As a TYC caseworker, I have had no problems with getting information needed from the probation departments. Everyone I have spoken to is always willing to assist and if I have questions about a kid, I can contact the probation officers and get more information. They have always been willing to help.
Prior to coming to TYC, I worked in a larger county detention facility and I just do not seem to understand how the merger would benefit either agency

Anonymous said...

Grits .... can you pass the last two comments on to the legislature please?

I will pose the question myself at the 1st hearing after a bill is introduced to merge TYC/TJPC. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Since you blocked the most current string I am going to comment here. I and many other pointed out long ago, though can't actually take credit because i am an anon poster, that lowering the age in TYC to 19 was a move in the wrong direction. California keeps them until they are 25, and they don't have blended sentencing options (determinate sentenced offenders). All states are moving towards older ages for rehabilitation and states like Missouri keep their kids forever, but in Texas we have to move them out in a hurry.

A DSO youth who is violent, and is in a facility where the staff actually do their paperwork, will have no problem getting rid of them by the time they turn 17.

Returning to 21 for the DSO's is the only logical decision and the legislature should be ashamed at their lack of foresight in this matter. While limited in scope, 50+ youth were thrown away last year, directly as a result of SB103. Put it to the numbers that is a likely 50 million dollars Texas will pay for incarceration and legal services during the course of these young adult criminals now doomed careers.

Anonymous said...

The lege has a bunch of idiots in it, but they are afraid to leave any room for the idiots in TYC to screw up worse.