Thursday, April 28, 2011

TPPF: Reinvest savings from juvie corrections merger in community-based programs

Marc Levin and Vikrant Reddy from the Texas Public Policy Foundation have an op ed out today encouraging combination of the Texas Youth Commission and Juvenile Probation Commission, with the caveat that part of the savings should be reallocated to community-based diversion programs. The legislation, SB 653, is on the Major State calendar in the House today. The column opens:
Legislation that sunsets Texas’ two juvenile justice agencies could bring a brighter future for the state’s most troubled youths. The Sunset Commission has advised that the Legislature consolidate the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC).

On April 13, the Senate passed Senate Bill 653 which implements the broad contours of the Sunset Commission’s recommendation.

Now, Texas House of Representatives members must seize the opportunity to further strengthen this legislation by reallocating part of the savings, enhancing community-based programs and incorporating outcome-oriented performance measures to assess results.

The consolidation of the juvenile agencies should not be considered a public policy “experiment,” but rather a continuation of proven reforms enacted in 2007 and 2009.

The principle behind those prior reforms – and the principle embodied in Sunset’s consolidation recommendation – is that juvenile justice must shift its emphasis from incarceration to rehabilitation, emphasizing education, employment, and victims’ restitution.

Studies have found that re-offending rates are lower when youths are kept in their communities, closer to their families and social supports such as schools and churches.

In most instances, non-residential programs including drug courts, victim-offender mediation, and probation supervision and treatment are most cost-effective.

For some of the most serious offenders, residential settings near major metropolitan areas from where most youth offenders come can both protect public safety and maintain contacts with the youth’s family which is critical to successful reentry into society.

The results of moving towards community-based solutions for holding youths accountable speak for themselves.
RELATED: See this fact sheet on the merger legislation from TPPF.

UPDATE: The merger bill passed the Texas House with a number of amendments. Rep. Sylvester Turner opposed the bill, arguing that the agencies are working well and that the bill creates a "super agency" that because of its structure may shift costs down to the counties. The House, however, sided with Reps Madden and McClendon and approved the legislation on a voice vote.

52 comments:

Tyler said...

Representative Ruth Jones McClendon's surname has two c's.

Anonymous said...

While does the enabling legislation for the new agency have three County Chief Probation Officers on the oversight Board? Why isn't there a Institutional Superintendent, parent of a system involved youth or young adult who was previously involved in the JJ system?

Anonymous said...

I sincerely appreciate the fact that at least one of our elected officials has the appropriate foresight to "see" where this new, yet very old, politically mandated train wreck is headed. I just hope the previous politically mandated restructurings of TYC have been cleared from the track...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for the copyediting Tyler. I corrected it in the post.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

This new super agency is just another attempt to cover the abuses of the tyc culture. Every so often the state has to do this. Has been the practice regarding Texas youth corrections for 120+ years. This new move is important to cover up for the wide spread pedophilia that’s been going on over the last 25 years. I keep saying, watch how fast this legislation flows through the process.

“Why isn't there a Institutional Superintendent, parent of a system involved youth or young adult who was previously involved in the JJ system? “
Our politico’s would never put an alumni on this board because an alumni knows how tyc staff are making it harder for the likes of tyc people to get away with the abuse/waste of tax payers money. I wish I could be on this board, any idea whose campaign fund I would need to contribute large sums of money to make that happen? I’m sure it would be a gratifying experience, almost as gratifying as the sounds made by a supposedly tuff dorm man pleading for mercy as he’s being plummeted by the children he has abused. Those teenage memory’s still bring a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

Chief Probation Officers are direct supervisors over secure correctional facility's superintendents in counties so I'm sure they would be appropriate to advise for facility issues.

Anonymous said...

Having Chief Probation Officers or Institutional Superintendents for that matter on the Board is a clear conflict of interest. how does the Leg expect there to be thorough monitoring of Departments when the monitors will be inspecting their "bosses". Even if they "abstain" from votes that effect their county their mere presence on the Board will intimidate agency personnel.

Anonymous said...

Three chiefs on the board is a 'no-brainer'. Who better to give insight and expertise in the day to day operations of department than a chief. It will bring a checks and balance to the new department and not allow the new executive director to push an agenda or philosphy that may not be practical.

This has overwhelming support except for a couple of whiney chiefs, and of course TJPC.

Anonymous said...

4:48- I wonder if the Chiefs supporting this move would also support having their employees sitting on their local juvenile board. The only agenda I am aware TJPC pushing is for the welfare of youth in the JJ system and community protection. By every measure they have done a great job at both responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

The employees work for the Chief and report directly to the Chief..that is an obvious conflict of interest!

Chiefs do not work for TJPC and they do not report to Vicki!

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the elected officials and citizens of the jurisdictions represented by the " no brainer " Chiefs would think of them using valuable funding to lobby legislators about being on the new agency board. Those dollars could have been spent on services for victims & youthful offenders.

Anonymous said...

Decisions made in Austin have an impact on local communities. Shame on any local official that would oppose the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer being involved with legislative issues that impact the day to day operations of local juvenile probation departments.

Had the Chiefs not been actively engaged this legislative session, advocacy groups would have run wild with the merger bill.

Thanks to those involved, the field came out stronger.

Anonymous said...

5:27 - Wow, we certainly wouldn't want anyone advocating for reform, oh wait... Wasn't that the purpose of the merger. i guessl unalteral control is a no brainer isn't it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know? Was reform the purpose of the merger? Because the advocacy groups made it very clear that consolidation does not constitute reform. Two years from now, we will see the reform movement in full swing.

And what is the purpose of reform when juvenile crime has been dropping steadily for quite sometime. Obviously something right is being done on the local level.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good things happen at the local level through a partnership with TJPC. No one can pinpoint specifically why crime is dropping. It is a national phenomena after all.

Anonymous said...

I want to know what changed between the 81st & 82nd Leg sessions. 2 1/2 years a go the Probation field fought against a merger proposal, now everyone seems on board with the idea.

Anonymous said...

I think the majority felt the merger was inevitable, so embrace it and work side by side with Madden and Whitmire.

Juvenile crime has been dropping since the mid-90's. Crime has been dropping nationwide since the mid-90s. Go back and see what happened in the mid-90s and you will have your answer. It is not a phenomena.

Anonymous said...

mid- 90s' ; TJPC aggressively advocated for increased funding for local departments and continued that leadership through the decades. I hope the new Executive Director will work as hard as Vicki to promote local needs.

Anonymous said...

So the question remains, why the need for reform?

Anonymous said...

Currently no true evaluation of program effectiveness exist.
Longitudinal offender recidivism is not measured. Victim Services are only present in a small number of departments. Research / Evidence based services are not uniformly applied. Level 5 Secure programs are not scrutinized as rigorously as SB 103 mandated TYC programs to be monitored. Reform = being open to opposing views of effective program delivery.

Anonymous said...

Reform also means accepting the fact that transparency should be a mandate. After all the School systems & Probation departments belong to the citizens not the Superintendents & Chiefs. Since most of the youth in the JJ system have mental health problems Chiefs should welcome the help of advocates.

Anonymous said...

Have the 160 Juvenile Boards signed off on the new system that will encourage / emphasize that a larger number of high risk youth be handled locally? Do the Commissioners Courts realize that a greater financial burden on JJ will be on their shoulders. Existing $ will have to be diverted to Institutional care to ensure compliance to State & Federal mandates. have the no brain Chiefs discussed this matter with their elected officials instead of lobbying for power on the oversight board

Anonymous said...

'Evidence based practice' is the most overused term in the business. In fact, it would be foolish to suggest any program without first mentioning it's evidence based. Ironically, seldom does anyone produce evidence. And when they do, the research is usually provided or funded by the group/foundation/ organization that is responsible for the program.

It is easy to manipulate outcomes when dealing with people, particularly probationers. They is why it is foolish to tie funds to outcomes. Those pushing a particular program will no doubt have postive outcomes.

In a recent powerpoint presentation by Mark Levin, he introduced the term 'probation officer quality'. Is he actually suggesting that the quality of a probation officer be determined by the outcome of his probationers? Give me a break! If that is the direction we are headed as a profession, I want all misdemeanor, first time referral kids with two parents. No gang bangers, high risk kids for me, I want to be successful.

As far as mental health, you can't paint those kids with a large brush. Mental Health comes in many shapes and sizes. I go into the homes of probationers all the time! Hell yes their depressed, how could they not be! The only solution many times is removal from the home. Advocacy groups are saying keep them in the home, while many probation officers are syaing, if we could only get them away from their family.

If your going to voice your opinion on the future of probation, then at some point in your life, you should have a managed a caseload; otherwise, you will never fully understand what we deal with on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

"This has overwhelming support except for a couple of whiney chiefs"

Dear 4:48,

If whiney means that a Chief differs with your opinion, then not much else can be said...EXCEPT I certainly hope the new JJ department's board (more particular the Chief's) has a balanced approach and does not call those with opposing opinions "whiney."

Anonymous said...

Sheldon, have you sought counseling for PTSD? You seem to be crying for help as you plummet through your memories of being pummeled. I'm just sayin....

Anonymous said...

I remember a bunch of whiney Chiefs, Charlie Hawkes, Charlie Cole, Bill Anderson, and Amador Rodriguez. We owe our great JJ system to these leaders. They helped created TJPC and they believed in strong standards that help protect the community by treating offenders in the best methods possible. I tip my hat to the whiney Chiefs, past and present.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if those strong minded chiefs that demanded 3 chiefs on the board are mature enough to handle if a board decision doesn't go their way. And then I wonder if a chief that has a differing opinion than the strong minded "boardchief" spending the next several years trying to ruin his or her career?
Most chiefs have things to do and couldn't be in Austin every other day. Most chiefs didnt have Maddens right hand girl to lie to for 6 months. Most chiefs work and worry about what they can do kids have a better chance. Most chiefs are supportive of the commission and can't imagine the BS the strongminded chiefs have been spreading since they lost the hotline debate.
It's all going to work out , just beware of the folks that are driving to Austin every other day they have revenge and themselves as thier agenda.

Anonymous said...

Strong minded, ugh - that's a laugh, more like narrow minded. Their quest to be on the TJPC board in the past and their lobbying to be put on the new agency board is an attempt to alter the pro-active standards that help make our JJ system strong. They have bullied their agenda through the legislature. Shame on JJAT & TPA for following them like blind mice.

Anonymous said...

JJAT and TPA did not follow them like blind mice!! JJAT and TPA led the way!

Anonymous said...

Was TPA mentioned by name in the bill?
Hell no it wasn't ! Was the president of JJAT or her little band of hinchmen at every meeting Marsha, I mean Madden called for ? Hell yes! If anything TPA was poorly represented on juvenile issues this session and JJAT is all over it. It's the greatest scam of all times how JJAT is and has worked this to try to get thier princess to be the queen of it all! TPA and most chiefs across to the state are to blame for trusting people to have the interest of juvenile offenders and of the state as the guiding principle to what was going on! Think back to all that was said, it's on tape, was a single program or plan ever mentioned about the kids! JJAT and thief little power group are running this show through Maddens office, if you don't think so then you need to make the drive to a meeting or two and see whos always invited

Anonymous said...

LOL. So you are faulting JJAT for having an influential role in the legislative arena? LOL

Shame on them!! How dare they meet with legislators regarding the merger and how dare Madden listen to professional probation officers over advocacy groups with no practical experience!

You must be one of the whining chiefs!

Anonymous said...

Professional probation officers are open to opposing views from every arena including advocates who often have witnessed or experienced the worst things our system offers. Professional probation officers are not afraid of transparency and inclusion with stakeholders , including family members and advocates. Professional probation officers do not use terms like "whinny" and they don't use silly terms like LOL.

Anonymous said...

When you fault JJAT and TPA for successfully accomplishing their objectives, it comes across as whining. I am sure if the advocacy groups would have got their way, they would not be apologizing.

Anonymous said...

The new agency assumes a huge responsibility - the new Executive Director will need Professional probation officers and advocacy groups to work together to forge partnerships that drive MH & education services to the local communities. Regardless of who sits on the board - stakeholders, including prosecutors, judges and the defense bar will have to agree to a localized system that keeps serious habitual offenders in the community . I hope they buy in to the new system, Chief JPOs really have little influence in the bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

First I said shame on TPA for not being as influential as JJAT. The problem with some of what happened was just like the few post on here, you disagree and your whining. Anyone who dared to have another opinion than those voiced by the JJAT Austin group were lied about and misrepresented every way possible. In fact it's that attitude and lack of respect for others and differing opinions that call to question the merit of having chiefs on the board.
The JJAT Austin crew kept fires burning by lieing to the field anytime the 3 chief issue was reported to maybe be in trouble, by blaming TJPC or a chief when they knew TJPC was on record everywhere as not opposed it. But thier zeal to constantly paint TJPC and Ms Spriggs as the evil oppressors the JJAT Austin crew continued to go door to door at the capital blaming TJPC.
So yes your correct JJAT was very successful and influential in Austin! Honest, not so much!
It's the short memories of elected officials that made alot of this possible because most of them forgot how JJAT did the same thing two years ago.
Again congrats for your "win" I'm sure you and Toby are both very proud of the bridges you burned in this important session for the troubled youth of Texas!
What? Yeah remember it's suppose to be about making a better system for juvenile offenders in Texas !

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how you seem to equate 3 chiefs on the board as a loss for youth. It is those type of comments that make the field skeptical of advocacy groups.

To imply three chiefs on the boards will be detrimental to youth is insulting and doesn't help your cause.

Anonymous said...

Equally amazing how for two sessions you have yet to recommend any changes in standards or codes or ask for anything other than chiefs on the board.
Now with all the many problems within TYC it would seem logical for someone to request maybe facility superintendents on her board or this new board. You guys have focused on the TJPC board, is the advisory council not addressing issues? But please go ahead and explain for me the many or even a few of the great things to come for youth by having 3 chiefs on the board.
But I am somewhat joyful that after several years of this debate in your 9:05 post you mentioned the "youth".

Anonymous said...

What you fail to realize is that it is not entirely about the youth. Very seldom does public safety or victims get discussed. And in the event either is mentioned, it is only in passing.

An earlier poster suggested that we must find a way to keep serious habitual offenders in the community. Why is that? If a juvenile commits a serious crime and continues to engage in that behavior, he must be removed from the community. Many times, advocacy groups lose sight of that.

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code spells out our mandate. While rehabilitation efforts play an important part, it does not alone define the role of a probation officer.

Anonymous said...

12:49 - The whole purpose of the merger was promoting a new standard of JJ in Texas. a model that emphasize local / regional services. Did you not realize that meant local communities would take on a bigger burden? There aren't that many general offenders left in TYC. How do you propose shutting down three programs this biennium and more in the future, if you don't keep a higher risk youth somewhere close to home. Was Chairman Whitmire & Chairman Madden sold a bill of goods or our you just very nieve

Anonymous said...

I believe the majority in the field agree with that concept. I think for the most part, the field has lost faith in TYCs ability to rehabilitate youth. Secure residential facilities close to home is the way to go. Many departments began implementing that concept a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Since, according to an earlier poster, JJAT lobbied so hard - what is the plan? For math sake , let's say that within the next twenty-four months, we reduce the State JJ Institution's population by 2/3 down to 500 youth. Where are the other kids going? We don't have capacity for a 1,000 kids in our Level 5 programs. who will serve the seriously mentally ill and sex offenders. Does JJAT have a plan? I guess they can be housed in the Ft. Bend County, Travis County & Tom Green County facilities.

Anonymous said...

Does JJAT have a plan? What does that mean? It is not JJAT's responsibilty to come up with a plan for local departments. Plans are developed locally by chief's, juvenile boards, probation officers, counselors, educators, etc.

What works for one department may not work for another.

Advocacy groups want to come in and say once size fits all. TPA and JJAT have always been strong supporters of local control.

Anonymous said...

"TPA & JJAT have always been supporters of local control"

I understand , as long as you get that big fat State Aid & no expectations of performance

Anonymous said...

2:53 - Speaking of local control , what became of the move by the Hopkins County Chief to squash Standards that had local financial impact. Did JJAT & TPA support that?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks the purpose of the merger is about reform must have forgotten they are in Texas. This is all about $$$

Anonymous said...

Most Chiefs did not support a merger for a multitude of reasons.

My view is that the front end of the system (local juvenile probation departments) is primarily taking care of its responsibilities. The back end (TYC) is where the problems are but keep in mind these are the worst of the worst juvenile delinquents in Texas. They aren't going to be easy to deal with and the recidivism rates are going to be higher for TYC youth. Most local juvenile boards and chiefs have begged for the state to fix this part of the system to no avail. Maybe it was lack of funding, leadership, structure or all 3. Fact is it isn't, wasn't and shouldn't be local boards and departments jobs to fix it. The state should have taken care of that.

Many local chiefs saw the writing on the wall that the state was going to combine the agencies regardless of input so instead of fighting it (again for the 3rd time), they embraced and plans were put into place to ensure that local departments at least had a stronger voice in the structure of a newly created juvenile "TDCJ". We've seen what has happened to our adult probation counterparts. There once was an Adult Probation Commission by the way.

So there you have it ... that is why local boards, departments, chiefs, and JJAT pushed so hard for 3 Chiefs to be put on the big Board. Maybe some individuals had selfish reasons to support it but what would those reasons be ... really? Think for a second about how much work it will take if you are on a newly created State of Texas mega juvenile agency Board of Directors. Go ask a local school board member how thankless their jobs are. I suspect it will be similar if not more difficult.

Now, whether the right 3 get placed on that Board may be something that can be argued (better not be 3 that want to micromanage) .... and should juvenile referrals make a turn for the worse then veryone better watch out!!

Good Luck to all (victims, offenders, families and practitioners) in the juvenile justice system in Texas in 2012.

Anonymous said...

It is so funny that TJPC was originally pushing hard for the merger this session and asked for the field's support, then when they saw their power dwindling in the bill they backed way off. When you say "most chiefs did not support the merger" I say BS. There were 3 that were vocal, Tarrant, Brown and Bexar, and the vast majority of the rest of the state were silently cheering it on. And the post that claims JJAT was at all the meetings and spending money goin g to Austin all the time, I ask was it not true that at least 2 of the three I just mentioned also were there all the time? What about their taxpayers? I admire everyone who went to Austin and fought for either side. I just HATE the bickering going on here.
I'm not a member of JJAT, TPA or TJDA or ACA but what I saw was a sincere interest in getting things right by the top 4 of JJAT and noticeably absent were members of TPA and TJDA. Toby Goodman way outshines any other lobbyist in the field, At least the members of JJAT have experience in the field, a far cry from the advocate groups who think they know it all but, like TJPC, have no practicable hands on experience.
As for the chiefs issue I certainly do not wish to be a part of the board nor the advisory group, but I applaud the ones currently serving on the advisory council and certainly wish the 3 chiefs that will be selected to the board all the best. I support the concept and believe I have previously heard that most of the boards across Texas have practitioners on them already, thus this is not a new concept. The 3 vocal chiefs against the concept of chiefs on the board must be getting orders from TJPC who should be scared right now that true experts will be now serving on the oversight board. I suspect once the new board is in place the new agency will have to provide a more accurate accounting as to why standards need to be created all nilly willy like in the past.
Local control is a GREAT thing and I totally support the idea. Gov. Perry supports a decrease in federal oversight and the local county agencies in turn support a decrease in state oversight.
I hope for a NEW director that has true hands on experience in the field, not a bureaucrat that will mess up the system.
As a middle of the road county we and everyone I have talked to at conferences support the effort of the 82nd legislature in making Texas a better state. One day people will refer to the "TEXAS MODEL", not some rinky dink state as a model.
I close with this remark, remember, IT IS ABOUT THE KIDS, not us in the field.
Sincerely,
Old and ready to retire!

Anonymous said...

Dear "OLD AND READY TO RETIRE"
Sounds like you are level headed and would be great serving on either the advisory council or the board. I am like you, have no desire for either one but I also agree the ones serving are doing a fantastic job. I do belong to JJAT and TPA both and believe the leaders of each organization have the best interest of their membership at heart. I appreciate the hard work and dedication they put into getting this new department off the ground. As for the posts that were derogatory towards those making the trip to Austin..... sounds like you were one of them also otherwise how would you know what was occurring?? You sound like a little kid that didn't get his/her way now you want to bad mouth others. Grow up or get out. I for one am ready for a change and like "old" said have heard all but a very small majority voice the same opinion. Most are too scared of retribution to speak publicly their opinion.
I just wonder who is paying the chief of Tarrant county to lobby so hard against consolidation and for TJPC??? The Tarrant County taxpayers??

Anonymous said...

Local Control does not mean NO ACCOUNTABILTY. Everyone across the state will tell you we need SOME standards to operate by. It's the useless ones that get in the way of a department's operations that has everyone so upset. 80% of the latest round of changes were usless and should be thrown out.
JJAT and TPA both listen to the field and react accordingly. Both organizations are made up of the field and therefore should voice opinions about what is going on out there.
I for one am GLAD the merger is gonna happen finally and hope the new director is chosen wisely. The 13 member board with chiefs on it should perform a nationwide search for candidates since the current 2 don't seem to have what it takes.
PL

Anonymous said...

wonder what caused all those people to change their minds and support the merger???

http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/tyc/responses/chart.htm

Anonymous said...

http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/tyc/responses/chart.htm

Anonymous said...

Well back to the real world. Funding is being cut everywhere. The kids with mental health issues will run our neighborhoods soon. At least 3 chiefs on the board will have knowledge of the real world.