The TYC has entered into an agreement with The Moss Group to assess the sexual safety of youth in all TYC facilities. Andie Moss and her staff and team of consultants are reviewing all of our policies, procedures, and practices on paper and then visiting all facilities over a five-six month period. When they visit facilities, they are talking with youth and staff in focus groups and observing our operations on all shifts. They have already spent time at Turman House, Giddings State School and Corsicana Residential Treatment Center. This is a great opportunity for us to have an independent assessment of the culture at each of our facilities as well as the safety of staff and youth. I am confident that all staff and youth will share whatever is on their mind with them—it’s important that you do, so that we can continue to improve what we do and our outcomes.This contract comes on the heels of a federal survey released earlier this year which found that
Two Texas Youth Commission facilities - Corsicana and Victory Field - reported among the highest rates of sexual abuse of all secure juvenile facilities: respectively, 23.7 and 24.6 percent of youth at those facilities claimed to have engaged in sexual contact with facility staff, while 13.7 percent of youth at Corsicana said they'd been sexually victimized by other youth in the past 12 months. See Table 5 on page 8 of the pdf.At least when Townsend is asked by legislators down the line what was done in reaction to this damning federal report, she can tell them one of the units (Victory Field) was closed and these consultants were hired to suggest improvements systemwide. If they come up with some good ideas, all the better. One wonders: If Dwight Harris had been that proactive, would the Youth Commission have ever gotten into the mess it did in the first place?
Also, "Approximately 95% of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female staff. In 2008, 42% of staff in state juvenile facilities were female."
It should be noted that, under the law, any sexual contact between youth and staff is considered per se abuse, even if the youth consented or sought out the contact. However, 8.9% of youth at Corsicana and 11.7% at Victory Field reported that staff sexual misconduct involved use of force (Table 6).
In other TYC news, regarding mandatory interim budget cuts at TYC, Townsend writes:
I am very pleased that our target was adjusted to $18.8 million. This means that our target was reduced by $2 million. Our plan to achieve the adjusted target is primarily through savings that have been and will continue to be achieved through our reduced populations. We will continue to manage our position vacancies as well as reduce administrative costs such as office leases and operational costs related to lower populations and reduced travel. There is no plan to close additional TYC facilities or to implement a Reduction in Force.