the state alleged that going back to 2004, “state-mandated documents that were required for probation officers to document and fill out and maintain in their files were essentially not being done.”Though the actions of Upshur juvie probation department were reprehensible, it's good to see that the TJPC was somehow able to tell that something was amiss, and even better that the Upshur Juvenile Board took responsibility and called in the Rangers after questions were raised. So often, it's not the offense but the coverup that gets government workers into trouble. It's one thing to not do your job for years on end; for that you might get fired. It's quite another to begin forging documents in criminal cases en masse, forging the name of youth, paretnts, etc.. Given the scope of the offense, a misdemeanor and deferred adjudication is a slap on the wrist, indeed.
[The District Attorney] said the state charged that when an auditor, or monitor, from the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission came to the county, “the two ladies would go back and forge and document the state contracts and state documents by signing parents' names, children's names, and essentially the whole document was forged.”
“The work just wasn't being done. Some of those documents were very important” because they helped determine “what treatment would be necessary for that child,” the district attorney said.
He said the misconduct went on over several years (2004 to 2008, according to the indictments).
Byrd had said in a news release last September that the indictments came after the Juvenile Board of Upshur County had asked him to contact the Texas Rangers to investigate the department.
“I believe that there was a member of the juvenile (probation) department that came to the board making various assertions and allegations — nothing specific, but there was enough said to the board that they felt that it would be appropriate” to call in the Rangers, he said Friday night.
“But for us asking the Rangers to do an overall investigation into the department, we probably wouldn't know to this day” documents were altered, Byrd said.
Is this going on elsewhere? I doubt it's widespread, but would also be surprised if this was an utterly isolated incident. In an ideal world, I'd like to see TJPC debrief the Texas Ranger investigators to identify the specific tactics, document trails, etc., that enabled them to discover the forgeries, then create protocols based on those investigative tactics to incorporate into routine records checks or agency audits. Going forward, they won't ever be able to say "We never imagined someone might do that," so they may as well put in front end checks and balances to keep such an embarrassment from happening again.