Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reader poll: Time to Abolish TYC?

I'm working much of the day on other projects so I thought it'd be a good opportunity to post a reader poll regarding Sen. John Whitmire's suggestion to abolish the Texas Youth Commission, expanding on the so-far successful strategy of giving grants to county juvenile probation programs to manage those kids in the community or pay for residential care (i.e., treatment and/or incarceration) at a location of their choosing.

The question: "Should the Legislature abolish TYC and give grants to counties to manage serious juvenile offenders?" The possible answers: Yes, No, All but those with determinate sentences, and Don't abolish, but downsize.

Please vote in the reader poll in the sidebar and tell me the reasons for your vote in the comments to this post. I'm curious what Grits readers think about the idea.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes it is crazy to have an entire state state agency manage 10 facilities. The juvenile probation commission has oversight of 40 or 50 simular facilities, so just add those ten to thier list. TYC has 250 central office employees and several millions tied up in salaries in Austin alone. The juvenile probation commission has 70 for the facilities mentioned and 145 departments.
Not to mention the savings to the state, funds going to programs and treatment instead of the Austin bureaucracy is our best chance to change the future for those kids within the system.

Anonymous said...

The Austin TYC offices are a complete waste of state funds. They have little to do with actually handeling youth and do spend vast amounts on usless projects and people with no real jobs or needed functions. They are a void and only inferfere with field activities.

Anonymous said...

I voted to "downsize" b/c it was the closest to my actual thoughts on the question.

What I think is that IF the decision is made to abolish, it must be done carefully and gradually, with some planning for the youth currently under its authority and for whatever will take its place.

Another option would be to keep it but fundamentally revamp its mission and scope of activity.

TYC's original mandate in the early 50s emphasized community-based prevention and re-entry activity, but then it was phased out in favor of managing youth prisons ("training schools" in that era's parlance).

BB

R. Shackleford said...

Abolish.

Anonymous said...

why do you geniuses think that counties or contract programs want to take on this issue? I don't see any of them clamoring to do so! reminds me of the old saying that "anything is possible if you're not responsible." bulletin board intellectuals/idiots shouldn't be allowed to dictate policy for state, county,non-profit, or for profit facilities or their programs.

Grits, poll some of the counties and see if they're willing to take on the worst of the worse. Bet the answer is a resounding "NO".

Anonymous said...

Downsize this agency to house only those who have murdered or raped someone.

Tyc is not helping these kids and everyone that works there knows this. Get these kids some real help somewhere.
As a former employee and I am not disgruntled I retired from what I am hearing from well educated people in TYC it is in a bigger mess now than ever has been. No treatment , no education, nothing but kids running the show. I believe in CRTC the Advocacy group saw for themselves what was really going on.
Its time to stop wasting money and time.
But we all know if they sunset it, they will just put some new lipstick on the pig with a new name.

Anonymous said...

I vote yes, abolish the agency and stop wasting our taxes. The money is best spent in county. As a former employee, I saw waste, theft and abuse. Nothing has changed since February of 2007. Here's an example: How is it that agency with what, a third of its former population, can still be ringing up the JCO overtime? Things that make you go hmmm!

Anonymous said...

Many employees of TYC have very little education above those they serve. Big problem. Kids can't learn from these supervisors and simply 'do time' for the cause. Abolish and give to the county, no way can things be wrose than the current TYC.

Anonymous said...

Abolish TYC. Do away with indeterminate sentences in Texas and sentence every little thug bastard who victimizes his community. If they can't handle probation, send them to TDCJ. TYC is doing nothing but wasting out money. We have a DA candidate here in Dallas who is running againt the current DA and is saying Juvenile Justice is getting very out of hand in Dallas, and it is, and he's going to do something about it. He's got my vote. He also wants them sentenced.

Anonymous said...

If I worked in that agency, I think I'd be looking right about now. I really don't think you guys are going to survive this session this time. It all comes down to one word: Leadership. It just isn't there.

Anonymous said...

What is even more sad than the uneducated employees, most teachers were at the bottom of their classes and work at TYC because they can't work for a real education system. The kids pay heavily for all this mess in TYC.

Anonymous said...

Lets have another poll, if Senator Whitmire was in your voting district would you vote for him?

If a certain Ex-Director still worked for TYC the good Senator would leave this agency alone, but wait she was sent packing. Still wonder why her old employer TDCJ has not come calling for her to come back, HMMMMMM

escalante blogger said...

For me, we should vote for the abolish!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's abolish TYC and treat those juvenile offenders with mental health problems in rural counties like Cass County in the community.

Oh wait - there are no treatment providers out in the boonies.

And for those who say - "let's only put the most violent or repeat offenders in TYC," it's already happened. Go look at the data on committing offenses at the Orientation unit and you will see that TYC gets youth who have committed a) violent crimes, b) sex offenses, c) multiple violations of parole.

And that is all TYC is getting.

I've also heard from more than one parent the positive impact of TYC has had on their kid and how well they are doing. I've also heard from more than one parent "Thank goodness my kid is in TYC, because if he was still home he'd have been killed already."

But those stories and anecdotes aren't interesting or deemed newsworthy by the Statesman or Dallas Morning News. No wonder the big newspapers won't pick up a positive TYC story such as this:

http://www.courier-gazette.com/articles/2010/10/05/flower_mound_leader/news/680.txt

Anonymous said...

One good story out of hundreds of bad stories won't save TYC's butt. The agency has chosen through its disasterous practices and criminal culture that it has over-lived its usage. Pack-up and move out. Make room for something that actually works and doesn't rip off the state. TYC has cut its own throat.

Anonymous said...

11:00- can you identify something that "actually works"?

Anonymous said...

"There is always a well known solution to every human problem- neat, plausible,and wrong!"

H.L. Mencken

Anonymous said...

You can't just lock up juvenile offenders and not educate them, no matter how violent they are. It's both state and federal law that they be educated. Counties are not going to deal with the population in TYC, because they can't. They will try to push them off on the local public school systems, and they can't deal with them either. So, you will be right back to a centralized state-run system just like TYC.

Anonymous said...

TYC should be downsized substantially taking only determinent sentenced. The agency has not and cannot provide adequate treatment/care; chosing to switch between muntiple modalities - which have never been implemented with fidelity. Even now, the aggression replacement training cannot be implemented correctly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 10/14/2010 10:38:00 PM
Go Tornados, These kids need fans so if you’re in the aria on a Friday night come out. You may see Iron guardians there.

BTW the local tyc parole offices, at least the one in Dallas has a food pantry and a clothes closet. Please consider donating to these efforts. These kids need nice clothes for interviews and jobs as well as food and toiletry items. Many are thrust right back where they came from but with the added stigma, and psychological issues that go along with time spent in tyc. If you want to do something beyond anonymously ragging on a pathetic agency in a blog while not getting your hands dirty this is a great opportunity to really help a victim of tyc.

Y'all know how I feel about tyc

Sheldon

Anonymous said...

TYC is failing because the agency is focusing only on the treatment phase of the program.First staff need to be taught how to properly manage kids behavior.This means that front line staff needs to be properly trained.What hurts TYC these days is that Program Directors in Austin never do any follow up on programs to ensure that staff are following the protocol for the program.How often have Program Directors demonstrated how the programs are suppose to be run.All they do is present the program to staff and never present the program to the hard to manage kids.I agree their are to many key people who need to leave their offices in Austin and start spending time at ionstitutions.I not talking about takeing a tour of the institutions.I talking about demonstrating their program for the staff and youth to observe.If the protocol for OJT is not followed by all staff,manageing students behavior wiil always be difficult.This means all students have be awaken daily the same at all institutions,mail passed out the same way and etc.Front line supervisors need to be held accountable to train their staff properly.Inter Personal Skills Training should also a priority.There are to many staff that haven't been taught how to properly communicate with young adults.You can put these young people any where you please.The problem will remain the same unless staff are properly trained.It doesn't take highly educated people to do front line work.It takes proper training.Wars are won or lost by how well the higher staff executive staff prepare font line soldiers.

Anonymous said...

What communities do you think these students will be placed in if TYC is abolished.How will there movement be monitored.Who is going to train these people who have never worked with deliquent kids.Have the success rate been reported since TYC no longer gets non violent offenders?What are people in the communities saying about these rules.How many community based programs will be built or near the Rich neighbor hoods?Kids are going to be placed in high crime neighbor hoods.How many of you TYC abolishers want these projects in your neighbor hoods.We have enough sideline complainers.

Anonymous said...

You have sideline complainers because YOU are not doing your job. TYC is a disaster and you are part of it. YOU are to blame so don't project your failures onto the sidelines. You think you are not replaceable, but watch for your next job.

Anonymous said...

The counties can handle this population? No matter what you say about TYC, folks here do have years of experience dealing with this volatile population. Not just anyone can survive encounters with this population. In many ways these young offenders have a level of cleverness unmatched by your average citizen. With rare exceptions, TYC has learned how to keep them behind the fence. I'm not sure the counties could keep track of or possession of this slippery bunch.

Anonymous said...

If you think that they are gonna divide up TYC's budget among the counties your kidding yourself. They would take SOME of the TYC and send it to the counties, don't forget their 18 Billion short! Another unfunded mandate. And TJPC has so few employees because they don't really run anything, they just make rules, think commission on jail standards. They have no clue on how to effectively run facilities, just on how to make rules on running facilities,

Anonymous said...

Who diaagrees that properly trained ront line staff would eleviate a lot of the problems that TYC is faceing?We have enough treatment programs.Who teaches and trains staff how to properly manage their behavior?You have to treat students behavior patterns before you start advanced treatment programs.Manageing Behavior gets kids ready for specialized treatment .You don't put your head in a lions mouth before you confront their behavior.I can't understand how Rehab Services can't recognize this issue.

Anonymous said...

True that, 10:45. TJPC doesn't "run anything." They have a few staff, probably less than five, who have EVER operated a detention or secure residential facility and that experience is at the probation department level.

IMO, nor does TJPC want to be merged with TYC and have an operational role related to institions.

Through a process of elimination I'm coming to the conculsion that TYC needs to be abolished since TYC will never be able to fulfill it's mission (becase it's primarily an impossible feat.) And because the past and current culture is way beyond repair or correction. (Is it possible that Sheldon has been right all along)?

So - it comes down to local departments taking on more of the load by expanding programs and utilizing their own facilities plus specialized contract placements. Give locals 1/3 of TYC's money and TDCJ about a third to gear up to house the 1000 or so crazies and unreformable. The lege can then "save" 1/3 for itself.

Yes, the time has come to burn down the village (TYC) in order to save it.

Anonymous said...

TYC has burned itself for the past several years. It doesn't understand youth tretment, youth control, employeee training and relations, management or rehab. TYC is a complete failure but refuses to see the truth. The state and most citizens know TYC is a ruse and it needs to be completely burned to the ground, buried and restarted as a separate/changed agency. Fire all but perhaps ten people and fire all the leadership/nose butt suckers that surround them.

Anonymous said...

YES!

Anonymous said...

With this new TYC Treatment Program the youth can now do what they want without effective consequences.

Anonymous said...

5:50 a.m. is right on folks. TYC can't possibly recover from all this. They have an absolute weak and ineffective administration today. You really can't expect an introverted leader such as their current ED to lead that agency out of this mess. I recall a comment made on here about how Nedelkoff or whatever his name was came in like a lion and left like a lamb. Well he handed this TYC to another lamb, who has done nothing but further the run and fear. TYC is needed, but it needs a stand up leader and not this coward that refuses to address the facts.

Anonymous said...

If TYC is abolished, it will actually be alright for the children in the larger cities. Unfortunately, the children in rural areas or their communities will suffer. As they are suffering now in fact.

In Houston, if a child commits a burglary and is found true; there are various treatment options for that child prior to placement in TYC. The only children from Houston that go to TYC are the damnable lot that is most likely unsavable.

In most rural areas your options are three fold. Deferred prosecution, Probation or TYC. So your average rural burglar will most likely be sent into the loving arms of those kids of the damned from Houston that I just previously spoke of. At least at this current time TYC has halfway houses as some sort of intermediary from the hardcore institutions.

Basically Whitmire is saying, I want to do what is good for Houston, but screw everyone else...

Being from the Panhandle, a land already utterly neglected by the state in regards to juvenile affairs I say shut your trap Whitmire.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Or the rural areas will just do adult certifications on every child that commits a felony over the age of 15 just so they can get them out of their community.

Abolish TYC. Make TDCJ larger. Simple equation.

Anonymous said...

SUCK IT RURAL TEXAS!

Love, Whitmire

Anonymous said...

Houston losers. Thugs, druggies, illegals...you all suck big time. Stay dow south and possibly move the area to Mexico. SUCKERS!

Anonymous said...

The only vote I want is the one that votes Whitmire out of office. The TYC debacle has been political since day one and will continue to be as long as John Whitmire is at the reins. Every ED, with the exception of one, since 2007 has run up against the same obstacles with Whitmire. Abolishing TYC will not solve the juvenile justice problem in this state. When politics are left out of the system and trained personnel are put in the system, then TYC will work!!!

Anonymous said...

I've worked in the education department of different TYC facilities for a ten year period. I now work for an independent school system which operates the education department for the county JJAEP. The education systems in the TYC facilities did a much better job. All subjects are not offered in elective fields at the JJAEP, and students returning to their local ISDs are sometimes delayed in graduating. TYC was able to give the education that enabled many kids to earn their GEDs.

I agree with others who have stated that positive opinions concerning TYC are not wanted. I also agree that the Austin officials are the biggest money drag and the least productive of any department.

It is my personal opinion that Whitmire is still trying to get political mileage out of TYC.

I saw good things happen for students, and I believe this could be the situation again under the right management. Unfortunately, the right management is not in place. Does anyone know how to get it there?

JTP said...

Politicians in Texas have always evaluated criminal justice programs in terms of financial cost vs. results. The measure of sucess or failure was and is the rate of ricidivism. The high profile media cases of people released from TDCJ or TYC, committing violent acts always stimulates the question of how to control criminals both in the lockups and when they are out on the streets under parole or probation officer supervision.

As far as TYC goes, the question becomes what does Texas society owe Juveniles who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The answer has always been partly to offer every opportunity for change before giving up on them. This has included some programatics and education. So the first question is do we still believe juveniles are different and deserve more programs aimed at stopping their criminal lifestyle. If the answer to that is yes, then it seems the next questions are at what cost and provided by who? In the upcoming session, the budget is going to force some tough decisions. Should TYC be spared and actuaally be given addittional funds or should the funds be re-distributed between TJPC and TYC.

My suggestion would be that only the worst of the worst failures from Probation Juvenile Courts and TJPC need to determine what kid meets that criteria. Once that kid is cut from Probation over to TYC, the resources need to be in place at TYC to handle these kids. Right now that's not the case, mainly because there is such a defensive attitude about protecting the Connextions sacred treatment cow. There has been such a focus on positive rewards and a defocusing on quick and sure consequences that the Connextions program has become like tits on a bull! In my opinion, Connextions might have a chance if CO Administrators were willing to add a corrections component to TYC. That might look like graduated privileges to were when you enter a TYC facility, getting out of your locked dorm room is an earned privilege. That can quickly progress to earned freedom's including progressive movement into less restrictive dorms. There is no youth esprit de corps in TYC, i.e. no pride from being part of another peer group that has earned recognition as a group for "earning" privileges and not having them handed to you for just breathing. If that component is added, along with an increase of staff ratios of 1 to 6 or 1 to 8 instead of the current 1 to 12, you might just see some results. I say downsize and reprogram. This may mean changing out some of the Administrative leadership who are unable or unwilling to sacrafice the sacred cow.

Anonymous said...

With this new TYC Treatment Program the youth can now do what they want without effective consequences.

HOW TRUE!!!

The kids are running the farm.

Anonymous said...

The only vote I want is the one that votes Whitmire out of office.

ME TOO!!! Let me be the first to cast him out.

Anonymous said...

TYC does not fully realize how much Whitmire has helped the agency. Thank you, Sir.

Anonymous said...

When Connextions was chosen as THE program at TYC, was it not identified as a "best practice" and "evidence based" program? So - what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

I do not favor abolishing TYC. Now, I digress. I resent the potshot taken at the teachers of TYC. I have a relative who teaches there. He taught in various large public school systems and then retired from the public school system after approximately 35 years teaching. He could have done a lot of different things, but thought he could do some good at TYC. He and many of the other teachers work very hard to educate the kids there. Because TYC is not able to get a janitorial staff to come in, he and the other teachers have to stay late to wax the floors of the building, vacumm, etc,. and clean up. Whitmire's plan might be just fine for Dallas, Houston, and Austin, but just in case someone here didn't know, Texas is more than those large metropolitian areas. The kids who live elsewhere will get no help.

Anonymous said...

I also worked for TYC for many years and never seen a teacher do manual work. The youth clean the schools. What TYC did you work for? More misinformation about a failed system that only hurts youth and rips off the state. The teachers and JCOs hate each other and work to make the system even worse for the youth.

Anonymous said...

WHAT? I have never known a teacher to work 10 seconds past quitting time. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

TYC should be revamped but not abolished. There are many great direct care staff that do wonderful work but there are more that are terrible and refuse to work appropriately with the youth. I do think TYC will need to upgrade its requirements for the direct care staff. TYC will also have to downsize. I think the determinate sentence statutes are really good and keep many youth from prison. Otherwise those youth will be certified and sent to prison. The problem is that they then get out. A 15 year old comes out of prison at age 23 on a 10 year sentence. They will be a worse threat to society.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that TYC has no common sense when it comes to general offenders. They are not teaching the youth anything but how to cheat and lie. The youth are extended beyond their original date and can be extended until age 19. The youth in TYC can refuse meds, education, and anything else as long as they sign on the dotted line or the JCOs will just write down "refused to sign" and that passes the test of course there are alway witnessess. If these youth are in their communities their parents still have to make them go to school, take their meds or they, the parents, will be punished by the law. How does TYC get away with this. No wonder these kids go no where fast. They are not taught anything by the staff of TYC. I think general offenders should stay in their own communities and have the communities services pickup the grants for this kind of care. It would be a much better deal for the taxpayers and the youth. The counties (all 254 of them) could make arrangement for the more aggressive and determinate youth offenders. The probation office could get more involved and hire quality people that know how to handle these youth.

Anonymous said...

WOW....someone with common sense. Right on the button. Care to apply for TYC ED?