Whitmire said the main cause of TYC's high costs are a bloated, central office bureaucracy, not just increased staffing ratios in the field. He also gave me names of several county officials who he said were supportive of changes he's proposing, and I promised to speak to each of them and follow up in future blog posts. None of those individuals were immediately available, but in the meantime, one of his staffers forwarded me a proposal
This is easily the most detailed analysis of a possible alternative system I've run across; the section on grants to counties in the Sunset report was decidedly scant. None of this is final, it was emphasized, but Griffith's suggestions are an example of the types of ideas being discussed behind the scenes.
Whitmire's office also forwarded me a proposal from 22 Southeast Texas probation departments estimating they could eliminate more than half their usual TYC commitments if the state gave them just 73% of the current TYC cost-per-inmate.
If these data are any indication, perhaps I've overestimated how much it would cost counties to manage these youth. Particularly readers in juvenile justice fields, take a look for yourself and see what you think.
There will always be a need for some version of youth prisons in Texas, said Whitmire, to house the "worst of the worst," but he thinks there may be "1,200 or so" at TYC right now who could more efficaciously be handled in local communities. Maybe he's right.
I've got other obligations this afternoon, but I'll post more on this topic after I've spoken with a few more people and had a chance to examine the documents sent over from Sen. Whitmire's office in more detail.