Friday, September 25, 2009

Battered escapee was TYC alum

(SEE CLARIFICATION AT THE END) In 2007, the Texas Legislature changed the max age for Texas Youth Commission inmates from 21 to 19, sending 19-20 year olds who committed their crimes as juveniles to state prisons. But perhaps in 2011 - after the administration has had time to implement the Sunset bill and get its feet under them after a period of rough transition - lawmakers should rethink that decision..

Few criticized the move at the time, but in the next two years one heard increasing rumblings out of TYC - especially from the old-timers but also from then-Ombudsman Will Harrell - that this had been a mistake and that the move was sending lambs to the wolves, setting up those who were transferred for abuse or worse at the hands of older inmates. According to the Ombudsman, youth sent to TDCJ were "five times more likely to be sexually victimized, eight times more likely to commit suicide, and twice as likely to be attacked with a weapon or beaten by corrections officers,"

Which brings us to Joshua Barnes, the inmate who made a daring escape from the UTMB prison hospital in Galveston and was just caught Wednesday in Irving. Today is his 21st birthday and he's a TYC alum. I don't know why Barnes tried to escape, but looking at this photo taken at the prison hospital I think I can guess:


Yesterday I received an email about the case from a long-timer at TYC who writes:
I knew this kid. He was at Sheffield. This troubles me to no end to see him like this and making the news. He did really well in TYC but was one of those kids who needed our attention in the community. If they had not changed the law regarding aging out of TYC at 19 as opposed to 21, then I doubt this one would be looking at such a long prison term. This was a good kid. His parents gave up on him. His future is a shame. Take a look at TDCJ's Fugitive Watch web page. Take a look at this kid who looks like he was beat badly at TDCJ which is why he was at UTMB in Galveston. I think I'd run too if I took a beating that bad. He turns 21 years old tomorrow. This may not of happened if they didn't change that law in SB103. Take a look. Now, instead of a 35 year prison term, he's looking at adding 15-20 more years I'd bet.

We need to change the law and TYC should be able to work with these kids until age 21.
This escape has many folks questioning what went wrong, but it's quite possible that moving 19-20 year olds from TYC to adult prisons was a significant contributing factor that nobody's talking about.

CLARIFICATION: Whoops! Larance Coleman, the policy director at the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, emails to say my contact at TYC gave me bad information. He writes:
Scott, major problem with your post, check the public conviction data at DPS, he was received in TYC in 2001, he was out on the street and arrested for an adult felony (possibly the same year he was released) on 10-13-2006. This would have made him 18 and if he was not a determine sentence youth TYC could have kept him until he was 21, since the new law was not passed until 2007. Although I do not know his TYC status, it appears that TYC made the release decision and as an adult he has committed one crime after the other, often days after his release from custody. Thanks.
NUTHER UPDATE: And here's a response from the original emailer:
The kid was on TYC parole status at a foster care home when he absconded and burglarized some homes. He could have had his parole revoked and returned to TYC. Instead they put him in jail, and while there, it appears he escaped and was charged with that as well. It was his first time on parole. It's not like he had multiple TYC parole revocations. If that were the case, I'd feel different. If his crimes were not property crimes, and instead murder, rape and so forth, I'd feel different. The thing that bothers me is that I think we should have had another crack at rehabilitating him in a TYC program.
So there's the crux of debate - over what happens to parole revocations for those convicted as juveniles. My apologies if the original post mischaracterized Barnes' TYC-related status.

32 comments:

davidt5 said...

Prison may not be the place for 18-21 year olds but TYC isn't either. When you have kids 12-15 in a program with kids 18 - 210 yoa, you have the same problems, this time with the younger kids being victimized.

Before the legislature places 18-21 yoa kids with a TYC general population they need to totally restructure the TYC system to separate the younger offenders from the older offenders.

Pirate Rothbard said...

I think we already knew that bad things happen in prison before seeing this picture. I think we're really headed in the wrong direction if we put 19 year olds in the youth facility.

To stop inmates from abusing eachother, we're going to have to make prison less crowded. But we're also probably going to have to resort to more ad-seg. And of course the biggeset thing is properly seperating inmates.(likely victims from likely predators)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FWIW 8:37, earlier this year Prof. Bill Bush made this observation in Grits comments, which I just retrieved:

"this is an area where we could learn something from the past.

"In the 1940s, California and Texas both created state agencies (CYA and TYC, respectively) based on something called the Model Youth Authority Act, which was promulgated by a legal reform organization called the American Law Institute.

"Ironically, though, both CYA and TYC ignored the key feature of the Model Act, whose original intent was to create a separate judicial and institutional system for 'youthful offenders' between the ages of 17-21. Victimizers in the juvenile system, this age group became victims in the adult system. And rehabilitation proved nearly impossible in either system.

"For a variety of reasons, states ignored this provision when they adapted the Model Act to their own situations in the 1940s, but it may be an idea deserving of reconsideration."

Anonymous said...

Grits, I gotta say I disagree, there are plenty of young men who are 18-21 who weren't in the juvenile system that commit offense after they turn 17 or 18 and go straight to TDCJ. I think it needs to be consistent and stay the way it is. I agree with david5, 12-15 y/o kids don't need to be in the same facilities with 18 + y/o men.

Anonymous said...

You may want to fact check your post. According to authorities, this inmate staged a fight in the jail in order to inflict injuries on himself that would necessitate a trip to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter who caused the fight, the fact is the photo clearly shows harm.

TDCJ and TYC both have a duty to protect inmates from harm!

Anonymous said...

TYC allowed these youth to be beaten, which caused the problem in the first place. Youth need to be segregated by age groups. Administrators are the problem for allowing bad policy and allowing abuse by employees - "Raped by The State".

sunray's wench said...

Pirate ~ you know, every inmate in TYC and TDCJ has the capability of being a "likely victim" as well as a "likely predator", and it is not always so clear cut which group an inmate will be in at any one time. Trying to separate them by that criteria alone will be almost impossible.

What is not quite so impossible is creating transition units for youths aged between 18 and 21. It is also not impossible to change the law so that children do not receive definite sentences. Reassess children placed in TYC in the year before they are due to be 18, and decide then whether they are still the same person who committed the crime they are serving time for (which for some will have been at age 11. Tell me any youngsters you know who are the same at 18 as they were at 11).

Those who are still a danger to themselves and others should move to the trasition units, and those who are no danger to anyone should be paroled. Stop the conveyer belt into TDCJ and there might also be a drop in the prison population too.

Pirate Rothbard said...

Sunray you've just proved my point, 19-21 year olds often could be "likely victims" in an adult institution.


The main thing is I just object to the high cost of TYC vs. adult institutions. Not sure where all that money goes. The other annoying point is the very labelling of anyone over 18 as a "youth"

Boyness said...

TDCJ has an obligation to protect offenders from being abused. Looks like we have a problem here, what else is new?

Anonymous said...

If you people knew the facts of this incident it possibly wouldn't be posted on this blog. Stay tuned for the Final Report (after months of investigation of course!).

Retired 2004

RAS said...

An extra year of Resocioalization could save an extra 5 to 10 in TDCJ. What is the net expense to that? What are the chances of someone recommitting after a few years in TDCJ as a teenager; where Raped By The State takes a much more literal meaning, turning out a much colder, bitter person desiring revenge on society. If he is too scared to risk going back what are the chances of his children ending up incarcerated due to his alcohol, crack, or pain killer problems.The old system worked pretty well, it could be improved of course. Reducing staff turnover so you keep the good ones and keep them motivated, having varying programs on different dorms for different behaviors, having some kind of outside watchdog to keep management straight, maximize family involvement and maybe this kid could have been sent back to his family. If Pyote is closed the El Paso parents will have to travel 5 or 6 hundred miles each way to see their kids. Each trip will cost them 2 or 3 hundred dollars and probably a lost day of work.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day the boys were separated out by age and just before my time by race as well. The tyc aged us out just before our 18th birthday. Heres how it went down if you committed a prison offence crime in the late 70’s, I aged out of tyc in 9/21/1977. If you were between the ages of 17 and about 23 and had not been to tyc, Gatesville in particular, you went to Fergusson farm. It was called the gladiator farm and rightfully so. There were some exceptions like Bob Hays OBM. If you had been to tyc you would most likely go to Clemens farm down in Brazoria county. The idea was not to mix the first offenders with those offenders who already had a similar cultural experiance in tyc.

Before Morales v Turman the Hilltop school at Gatesville housed predominately white/spanish offenders from 17 to 21 while Live Oak housed predominately black offenders from 17 to 21. Sycamore was a predominately white/spanish high school while Terrace was predominately black high school. Hackberry was a predominately white/spanish jr high school while Riverside was a predominately black jr high school. Valley was for the younger kids and Mountain View was for the boys whom the staff at the Gatesville schools couldn’t handle as well as some violent offenders.

Prof Bush makes good points about the state continues to ignore many important history lessons.

RAS, your post makes good since. Legislators and tyc management can learn a lot from its people 'in the trenches' on how to better manage these kids in custody and what would work to re-socialize them back into the world.

Sheldon tyc#47333 c/s

Anonymous said...

Sheldon, you've got some cool stories, I'm hoping one day you'll open up and talk about whether you saw any prison rape.

Anonymous said...

Have you folks heard about the kid that killed the teacher in Tyler?

He was recently discharged from TYC due to his mental health.

I think the state dropped the ball on this one as well....

Anonymous said...

Grits,

This kid committed his crime in the community just before SB103 passed. He was convicted of those crimes on 04/29/08 according to the TDCJ offender search database that can be found at their website. He wouldn't have been sent back to TYC as a recommitment because SB103 was in place and Barnes was already 19. So yes - SB103 did prevent this kid from a TYC recommitment.

Anonymous said...

"Boyness"

Welcome to Boyness. Everything and anything that is hot, steamy, sexual and passionate about gay boys.

ORLY? Damn, sounds like you might just wanna go ahead and have a seat right over there... Mr. Hanson will be right with you and THEN you can see things from the "inside out" in the TDCJ ;)

Anonymous said...

That's the problem with TDCJ. I mean, what kind of post is that? We have some serious culture problems with employees in TDCJ if in fact that's a CO.

Boyness said...

Anonymous said...

"Boyness"

Welcome to Boyness. Everything and anything that is hot, steamy, sexual and passionate about gay boys.

ORLY? Damn, sounds like you might just wanna go ahead and have a seat right over there... Mr. Hanson will be right with you and THEN you can see things from the "inside out" in the TDCJ ;)

9/26/2009 06:48:00 PM
---------------------------------
Hide behind your anonymous shroud COWARD!

Anonymous said...

Can you now deny that this ex-TYC youth was not "Raped by The State"? If not bad enough abuses in TYC, move them into the adult system so they can be abused even more. Perhaps the kid deserved it; some will say.

Anonymous said...

I think we can say your depiction is off base considering a TYC employee of "long term status" voiced this concern.

Anonymous said...

Some other facts to consider. Twice he escaped from Potter County custody at 19 years of age, before he was sent to TDCJ. Once, he escaped from the courtroom during a hearing before being recaptured a few days later. A couple of months after that, he escapted from the Potter County jail while awating trial on his multiple burglary, aggravated assualt and escape charges.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9/25/2009 09:11:00 PM are you talking about kitchen ladies or matrons? The way I’ve seen some of the woman at today’s tyc dress it’s a wonder tyc don’t have a lot more prison rapes. I didn’t see any inmate on inmate rapes because that was frowned upon by most inmates. We fought all the time every day but didn’t rape each other. Fighting was entertainment for the dorm men. Some time guys would act like they were going to rape some fish but it was just to see if they would stay on the dorm or be segregated to the punk dorm. I heard it use to go on all the time in the black schools but when they desegregated, the white and spanish boys didn’t really put up with that animal crap. The dorm men use to talk about it all the time, how the black boys got more civilized with desegregation. The black boys were the most uncivilized predatory group of the three cultures, hell they even victimized each other. When my crew saw a white kid come into the school and he appeared as though he would become a victim to the blacks we protected him. The spanish boys did the same for their own as well. Not trying to be racist it’s just how the cultures broke down. We were just doing time and most of us wanted to get out.
Now Anonymous 9/25/2009 09:11:00 PM I hope I’m not being gullible by providing a straight answer to your question. I do have some cool stories, gatesville.blogspot.com. I think some other poster listed a gay website if that’s what you’re looking for. This is a tyc posting after all, so I’m making this disclaimer.
Today’s tyc dorm personnel present themselves as being punked out from their working conditions and with pedophilia being an employee benefit, and the likes. The dorm men from my day would bitch slap most of you tyc people for being sissy’s. On the other hand I have met some really great tyc staff that the giants whose shoulders you stand on would be proud.

Bottom line, legislative bs to the side, Barns is just another victim of the 120 year old prison cultures 87% recidivism rate. 2001 till 2006 says alot, y'all fcked him up. Or as tys would have it Barns is another prison prep school success story.

Sheldon tyc#47333 c/s
13%er

Anonymous said...

A clearly fuzzy cluster fuck.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what to say about all of this... I mean it really hurts to see a TYC brother beat so bad. I have to say that if ever being victimized you have the right to run. I mean who can take someones safety away. Now before you come back with these people to safety away from the streets. Know that they are serving there time for that. I just know that I have seen people in both TDCJ and TYC come out looking worse then that in photos. I dont claim to have the answer but I wish I did. Because I will never forget the day I got to Giddings and was on dorm 9 and watched as a 12 year old boy was raped anully and orally by two older boys. The gaurds just standing by watching. But then to see the same type of thing in TDCJ. But this time more people invovled. Prison no matter where it is TYC or TDCJ or county is everyman for themselves. But what most people dont understand is that an inmate has to blaence three sets of law. socities, imate, instatution.... I pray for you all...

respectfully,

concerned

RAS said...

Kids in TYC were a lot safer than in prison. They might get punched a few times, but that is almost impossible to stop. The perp used to get put on a BMP and kept off the dorm for 30 to 90 days. Now the most they can be held is 14 and most of them are given a Level hearing and they lose their priveleges for up to 30 days. They have to be given due process to take away their TV! They can't lose their Stage and very rarely is their release date extended. So TYC gets less safe by the day. There have been and probably still are scared/frustrated staff that use kids as enforcers to beat up the smaller problem makers. The more ineffective the system the more this will occur, if the staff feels that quitting isn't an option for whatever financial reasons. The other response by staff for self preservation is to not see or hear rule violations that if they confront them the staff could end up making a trip to the hospital, which is getting much more frequent.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, what about the 5 murders that recently released TYC youth have committed around the state in in the last week???!!!! This includes the teacher that was murder in his classroom in Tyler! Yeah I really feel sorry for these poor "choir boys" and the CoNextions program (the new resocialization program) is really working, right? I have soooo much faith in the Sunset Com. WHATEVER!!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody by now has mentioned that TYC does by SB103 now separate old kids from younger ones.

Anonymous said...

What about the 400 or so over 19 in TYCs care and custody? The determinate sentenced offenders get special license to stay in TYC! The courts just know to give them a timed sentence instead of letting TYC set the length of stay.

Anonymous said...

Wrong - the 19-20 year olds in TYC at the effective time of SB103 were grandfathered. The same thing happened in the '90's when they changed the law on sentenced offenders. Those who were already in TYC were handled under the old rules.

Anonymous said...

BTW: That was not TYC's decision. That came about as a result of a ruling from the AG.

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