Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Violence rates in youth lockups went up after 2007 juvie reforms

At the Texas Tribune on Sunday, Brandi Grissom and Becca Aaronson had a story about rising violence rates at state youth lockups since the 2007 sex scandal at what was then the Texas Youth Commission:
10 years’ worth of data on the number of physical and sexual assaults and pepper-spray incidents at youth correctional facilities across the state indicates that this serene atmosphere is often disrupted by violence among the youths.

Overall, the rate of confirmed youth-on-youth assaults has more than tripled at the secure juvenile offender facilities statewide in the five years since lawmakers approved those reforms. Attacks on staff members have also increased.

The data do show progress for the reform efforts, including reductions in violence perpetrated by staff and in all types of sexual assaults. Cherie Townsend, executive director of the juvenile justice agency, acknowledged there is room for more work, but she said that reforms are making the facilities safer.

Advocates and experts, however, say the rise in youth-on-youth assaults and attacks on staff indicate there is still critical work to be done.

“It’s really disappointing,” said Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that advocates juvenile justice reform. “The implementation has not been what we hoped for.”

In 2007, following reports that staff at what was then the Texas Youth Commission had sexually and physically abused youths in their custody, legislators passed laws intended to improve conditions at the lockups. They gave counties incentives to keep low-level offenders in their communities, where they could be close to treatment services and support systems. Only felony offenders who had failed at other programs would serve sentences at secure state facilities. Lawmakers also prohibited the incarceration of anyone older than 18 at the facilities.

The average daily population at the secure facilities has dropped to about 1,200 in 2011 from nearly 3,000 in 2007.
Several factbites from the story were downright stunning: "The rate of confirmed youth-on-youth physical assaults at state secure facilities grew to 54 assaults per 100 youths in 2011 from 17 assaults per 100 youths in 2007."  And, "Staff assaults by youths have climbed to 37 confirmed assaults per 100 youths last year from a rate of 10 per 100 youths in 2007." Notably, "The data do show progress for the reform efforts, including reductions in violence perpetrated by staff and in all types of sexual assaults." (See various charts and data collected by the reporters in this interactive format.)

Grits suspects, though, that the massive decline in youth prisoners explains most of the increased violence rates, which are reported not as raw numbers but as assaults, etc., per 100 youths. That's because the pool of youth in 2007 were much less serious offenders, as a class, than the smaller group of more hard-core kids who go to youth prisons under the new regime. If the rate of youth on youth assaults tripled and the number of youth incarcerated declined by roughly 2/3, then there are roughly the same number of assaults today as in 2007, just concentrated among fewer prisoners.

In prison as in everywhere else in life, a small subset of offenders accounts for the majority of serious misbehavior, and those troublemakers are precisely the type of youth that still end up in TYC despite the expanded emphasis on diversion, probation, etc.. While youth violence went up, it's also true that the proportion of youth incarcerated for violent crimes as a percentage of the whole increased substantially over the same period. If the number of prey dwindles but you keep most of the predators, you'd expect the violence rate to go up because reducing the number of victims they have access to does not in and of itself reduce the violent tendencies of those who remain. That's not to excuse rising violence rates, but I think that's what's driving it. Possibly the staffing ratios and policies from the ancien regime weren't adequate for the types of offenders who now end up in TJJD lockups, and certainly the data call into question whether programming at the units is working to change youth behavior. Good reporting from the Trib.


A Texas PO said...

I also have to wonder if there was a sudden increase in incident reporting after the 2007 reforms and if that may have had an effect on the data. Were there really that many more incidents, or did staff just start reporting more incidents?

Anonymous said...

The question now is, what will change with the merge? The merge was to make this a model new system. If we want to agree that both agencies could improve, its clear from all the testimony TJPC problems were mostly standards and "unfunded mandates" while TYC was almost a system completely out of control with issues from top to bottom.

So with that what will change, you can't keep doing what you have always done and really change. If your planning on taking the best from both agencies where and how do you do that. It would be foolish to just think that all in TYC is or was bad, likewise it's no smarter to think all in TJPC was perfect and good.

I think maybe the thing to do in both agencies is to de-centralize the seemed power and authority. Shrink the staff in the old TYC by about half, then look for further reductions in the combined staff. These reductions can be one from TYC and one from TJPC, find the very best and if it ends up being more in one area from one agency thanthe other so be it.

Take the saving from the intitial TYC reduction and pass that through to the front lines, probation departments have always been able to meet the challange. The kids committed are suppose to be the bad offenders, JDO's need to first get more money, they still rememeber the raises handed out in Austin. With this new tougher population TJJD needs to at least double, maybe even triple the manpower the kids see during the early phases.

That is at least a start...

It is what is, we are where we are, but to keep doing the same thing will not get us anythink but the old thing, back in the news!

Anonymous said...

Great data analysis Grits. Yet with this 120+ year old culture of cover up who really knows whats going on in that world but those who live in it. Staff have been whining about their fear of the children so I wonder why the youth on staff assults are not higher. Have you tried to convers with these people who work there, hell Id want to beat them too. After going through the expence of changing the name do you really think our little protected class of workers are going to report the sexual devient tendecys they have with the children in custady? Who dosent like getting off on a staff.

diogenes said...

Some other factors to consider which may have contributed to the increase in violence:

1. The prolonged uncertainty as Resocialization was removed, but no other true program was implemented for about 2 years. Stop-gap programs were put into place, but because the juveniles didn't know for sure what was expected of them to go home, there was less "buy in" and less enthusiasm to work the program, especially when they also saw other juveniles being released for seemingly random reasons.

2. The effects of staff morale cannot be understated. Facing uncertain futures, morale dropped even further, and less staff were giving their jobs full attention. Juveniles were not supervised as closely or consistently.

3. The changes in disciplinary hearings combined with the new release procedures created the concept of "I go home regardless!" among the juveniles. I had several come in to my Security unit after having assaulted someone, and when anyone mentioned that they would get a disciplinary hearing, they scoffed and recited the mantra.

Anecdotal? Yes. We were too busy trying to keep things together. I know it seemed to me that both the number and the seriousness of the assaults on both juveniles and staff increased greatly every time there was a new change that came out of Austin, especially as disciplinary hearing dispositions were curtailed and release dates were attached more to running out the clock instead of working the treatment program (such as it was).

As Texas PO mentions, the reporting system may also explain the increase, as were were told to document everything and duty officers had to call the abuse hotline any time any injury occurred, no matter the cause or severity. I once had to call because a juvenile stubbed his toe on the bed. That took about an hour to complete because of all the information we had to provide (name, age, TYC#/job title, etc of all people at the location of the incident, who first reported it, if the medical staff examined the youth, and so forth.

Lia Lilleberg said...

awesome post i will be back

Anonymous said...

And just think, now all those assaults on TYC will be occurring in the county detentions centers since there is little to no "TYC" to send these youth.

Since we don't here of these problems in county run detention centers, why doesn't someone suggest keeping TYC kids in county detention centers? Seems logical, these same kids behave and don't cause problems in the detention center why not make the detention centers serve an institutional role. Each county then bears the repsponsibility and risk of dealing with its own youth problems.

Anonymous said...

Look at the data on assaults, workers comps and physical restraints from July of 2007 thru September 2007. Tell me what you see!


Anonymous said...

At Giddings:

Since 2007, the rate of confirmed youth-on-youth violence at Giddings has grown 145 percent, to 81 assaults per 100 youths in 2011 from 33 per 100 in 2007.

The number of youth-on-staff assaults resulting in bodily injury has also increased at Giddings, to 72 last year from 18 in 2007.

72 out of 100! Assaulting seems to be the norm for these youth.

Anonymous said...

So, now that you have effectively doubled the youth population in the remaining facilities while staff shortages continued, did you really expect that the assaults would not also increase?

Anonymous said...

DOJ should come back to Evins. Boy would they be surprised to see how the culture has reverted to it's pre-DOJ levels. Assaults, attempted escapes, kids starting fires in security, staff bringing in contraband (those that bother to come in!), the overtime budget was exhausted within 3 months of the new fiscal year. And the administration is so well in control that the SUperintendent, Assistant Superintendent and the PS V all interviewed for the Superintendent job at Mart. Rats deserting a sinking ship? Hmmmmm? And the new TJJD is doing exactly what TYC did...absolutely nothing. Old Smitty and Chip sit around, slap each other on the back a tell themselves what a great job they're doing. The more things change... Perhaps the problems at Evins will soon be gone, though. Rumor has it that it's on the chopping block. Gee, who'da thunk it?

Anonymous said...

Assaults and all the other problems are the direct result of the lack of a viable program that not only addresses the kids' treatment needs, but holds them accountable and teaches them that they are responsible for their behaviors. CoNextions is, now and will always be an abject failure. Buying behavior with a Snickers bar and a slice of pizza is not treatment. Demitria Pope once characterized Resocialization as a program created by "a bunch of white women with PhD's". But at least they were "real" treatment professionals and had an idea of what a treatment program should be. The same cannot be said for CoNextions. Welcome to Loserville, TJJD...population you.

Anonymous said...

Evins received a 100 percent compliance rating.

March 2, 2011
Edinburg, TX – Auditors from the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections (CAC) announced today that the Texas Youth Commission’s (TYC) Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg received a 100 percent compliance rating with all mandatory standards during its recent audit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the media and the advocates focus on the youth-on-youth assaults, but of course they gloss over the fact that staff-on-youth assaults are down to zero. Typical.

Of course, this is what you get with a program with no meaningful consequences for youth.

Anonymous said...


I wonder if the reform itself has impacted the things that staff allow to occur. I ask this based on history, and not just in Texas.

I have no idea what currently goes on in the walls of the units, so let me just say that up front.

I do know that in Texas history, and as you read headlines in New York and other places currently where reform takes place, that history suggests that employees rebel against the reform by allowing things to occur that challenge the reform whether internal or legislated.

I wonder if there have been any recent studies on reform efforts and increased violence. One thing that makes this look more possible, and less like the curriculum or program is that staff assaults are down. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

A couple things were brought up, staff youth ratio's; prior to the reform the ratio's were 20 youth per staff or whatever you had. Since reforms the mandate is 12 to 1 ratio'. Now you will hear a lot of people saying this is not an accurate picture but they (CO) keep these stats weekly and they are pretty consistent. So if the staffing ratios are better almost double why have more assaults?

Another person posted that the populations at the remaining facilities doubled;
This is not accurate the populations were dropped artificially based on the reforms of having 4500 youth compared to 1500 youth, so when you closed facilities these facilities (that are still not filled to capacity as we speak) went back to their old totals with ratios of 12 to 1.
The elephant in the room the board and everyone else who had a hand in hiring the current leader of TDJJD is that for the past 3 years TYC never had any leadership nor did they have a program to address these issues and actually rehabilitate youth. This is pretty factual but unfortunately no one seems to care about this.
They did not even mention the workers comp rates ver the past 3 years with lower youh and higher staff ratios, let alone t he amount of overtime the agency spends. The next step would be to look at all of this specialized treatment they state that takes place and see if it is actually occurring. Have they ever had situations where a open 120 was opened by a case worker for specialized treatment but the groups were never held? This would really surprise you because this occurs regularly and CO may or may not catch this, and lord knows they have enough staff in Austin.
Great leadership and a clear path to success for the youth of Texas, luckily I can retire in a year and I will be content with the next chapter away from this mess.

Anonymous said...

8:18pm - I think you have something there. As I read through each post, it's clear which ones were written by TYC staff. The whining and complaining about poor leadership is starting already. The leader is the same one that they asked for years ago. They said no more TDCJ transplants,no more out-of-staters. The leader must be from TX and understand the staff, kids, residential operations and the TX legislative environment. In comes Cherie, the staff savior who "grew up" in TYC before becoming a Probation Chief. The problems seemed to start when Cherie didn't bring the old TYC mentality of "lock the little thugs up" and "don't tell about child abuse". Staff who were used to "NO" rules applying to them were then having their actions questioned by administration. Of course, the kids saw this as "staff vulnerability" and played on it. That is a result of reform measures, not poor leadership. Reform won't always be easy.

Then, the recession caused JJ agencies nationwide to cut their budgets by closing facilities and reducing staff. Merging the hardest to handle kids together in smaller numbers would most likely result in more violence. Because they're harder to handle, there are fewer success stories and the staff's daily workload will be more difficult because the remaining kids would probably be more resistant to programming. And, staff who were already resentful due to increased scruntiny and the reduced staffing that caused the loss of longtime friends and coworkers soon expressed an more anger towards administration and a justifiable fear for personal safety due to a more serious and violent population.

It's happening all over the country. JJ administrations are struggling to find the right "fix" but there's no magic wand. They and their staff seem to be expecting major progress too soon. I've been told that major reform occurs over at least a 10 year period with many different trials. TYC reform started in 2007 so this is the 5th year.

One thing that's for sure, JJ administrators need to stop reciting "the kids come first" when implementing reform efforts. Reform wont happen without staff buyin and TYC/TJJD staff are still hurting from the past 5 or more years. Cherie needs to take the time and focus on growing a happy and healthy workforce. The reform measures are already in place for the kids but it's hard for unhappy, unhealthy, untrusting adult employees to suddenly trust administration and put the kids' needs first. Especially kids who are not the most amenable to treatment and are violent towards them.

The time has come to address the staff's needs while taking care of the kids. Regardless of what's happened over the years, these people were loyal to their agency. They continue to go to work everyday in what can be considered a hostile environment between staff and administration. Residential staff don't make $100,000/yr so they're not showing up for big paydays. It time to stop pointing fingers at them first. It's time to move forward.

I am not from TX and I've never met Cherie. I work in JJ and see so many unhealthy workforces throughout the country in this field. Many police departments and adult corrections agencies are now focusing on developing healthy workforce plans. When will JJ join in the movement?

Anonymous said...

2/14/2012 08:47:00 PM said:

"Another person posted that the populations at the remaining facilities doubled;
This is not accurate the populations were dropped artificially based on the reforms of having 4500 youth compared to 1500 youth, so when you closed facilities these facilities (that are still not filled to capacity as we speak) went back to their old totals with ratios of 12 to 1."

Check the population at Gainesville, and then look at what it was 6 to 8 months ago. Then, do the math. And, Corsicana is filling fast.

RAS said...

Log on to the Texas Workforce Com. and look up jobs at TJJD. Five facilities list 50 job opennings (no more, no less) Evins wasn't listed I don't think. Wonder what the real vacancy rate is? The problem is that some of the kids think the program is a joke and that they are being screwed with for no purpose. The hard cores know that TJJD doesn't have any consequences that are more severe than they are willing to accept.

Anonymous said...

02/14/12 7:30 pm - Anyone who's been around Evins for more than 10 minutes knows that score is absolute fiction. All ACA means these days is that you pay the money and buy accreditation. But if the newspaper or Central Office says it's true, it must be. They wouldn't lie about it...would they? Go look, it's there if you will just see.

Anonymous said...

I really do not have to do the math, I said look at Gainesvilles population 3 to 4 years ago, look at their budgeted capacity. Gainesville can still hold a lot more kids as of this date. Most long term TYC employees remember when ratios were whatever showed up, all you new hires over the past 4 years are weak and used to this 12 to1 ratio, if nt I cannot do my job. Yep we do have rafting problems, they need to grow. Air and understand the history before they comment

Anonymous said...

Stop twisting my words. I didn't say they couldn't hold more. I said the population is increasing rapidly over what it was in the remaining units.

And, I'm willing to bet that before it's over with, they end up reopening some of the closed units.

And, by the way, I also don't work for TYC/TJJD. But, I frequent them regularly.

cowtownpolitics said...

From black to white, I am sorry about what happen to you as you walked your grand daughter home. I like your stuff, now I know why.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to this: Cherie Townsend is not the answer. She is the problem. We have no respect for this woman. She is a liar.

Anonymous said...

02/14/12 1:36 pm If the worst kids go to TJJD, that means that you don't have to deal with them. Anytime a kid gets to be more than his PO can handle, he's violated and sent to TJJD and you have no more problems. I'd bet if you put your head near the ear of another PO, you'd both be able to hear the ocean.

Anonymous said...

02/14/12 1:36 you are obviously clueless. PO's do not send youth to state facilities--- judges do. Youth can not be committed for violations of probation--- they must have been adjudicated for a felony.
That empty sound between your ears must be loud.

Billy R. Hollis said...

Dear TJJD/TYC Bloggers,

Stop complaining. Juvenile justice in Texas is what it is and isn't likely to change any time soon. If you want to make a change, you have to stand up for what is right. It isn't easy and will cost you. I know. I stood up at West Texas in 2005 and paid for six years, until I finally decided to retire early rather than wait around to get fired ( I was the Superintendent at Evins). But in my heart, I know that in spite of all the crap, I did my best to take care of kids (like I was supposed to) and I'd do it all again, with no regrets. It's easy to talk shit and do nothing and hide behaind a screen name or "anonymous". But to each his own.

Anonymous said...

A History Note:

Lydia Barnard is the “Queen of Cover-up” but in her defense I firmly believe she received her marching orders from Dwight Harris. Lydia Barnard was not a free agent, she was closely handled. The corruption ran all the way to the top. When things came out Dwight Harris bailed out before he had to answer any questions. Lydia Barnard had no personal motive to cover-up the West Texas affair. After many years at the TYC I started to see a pattern of corruption in the upper administration. State school superintendents were all cut from the same cloth and always covered for each other. Employee grievances against upper management were always found to be not true even if witnesses had to be intimidated into telling the right story.

Anonymous said...

Lydia knew what was going on and was a part of it...true; if you say otherwise you are either an idiot or simply uninformed. Bill was also a big part and he and Lydia were partners in crime. He got caught also, but jumped ship before he could be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

OH BOY, more TYC complainers.
As for the numbers the HOTLINE was implemented after the WT scandal with tougher reporting requirements. Both state facilities and county facilities have to report the slighest little thing which has let to the so called increase in incidents. Also, kids with mental health issues are the ones going to the state facilities because the county departments have no place else to send them. Kids with mental health issues mixed with other kids with mental health issues just create nitroglycern , highly volatile. THE KIDS RUN THE FACILITIES, both state and county BECAUSE of the reforms. Everyone is afraid of getting investigated.

Anonymous said...

Man-O-Man! The "River of Stupidass" runs deep when there is a TYC/TJPC/TJJD related posting. Surely, on probabilities alone someone can make a borderline intelligent contribution to these posts. Please tell me that the majority of these responses are not representative of the average person employed to work at TYC/TJPC/TJJD? If it is representative then there is much, much more that should cause grave public concern!

You have to ask yourself if these entities could even supervise a pet rock collection without screwing it up?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hey y'all, at least Billy has the balls to attach his name to his opinion, like it or not. In the interest of accuracy, maybe those posting as "Anonymous" while trashing others by name should sign their posts "Coward #1," "Coward #2," etc., to distinguish you from all the other cowardly anons and make clear to everyone exactly how pathetic you are. Plus it would let the rest of us skip over your tired, pointless carping about people who haven't even been at the agency for years.

For a while I eliminated comment strings altogether from juvie topics because of just this type of cowardly trolling. This string makes me recall why.

For those who think Cherie Townsend it the problem, you have short memories - think "Dimitria Pope." I do not believe there is a single human being on the planet who would satisfy all the TYC-holdover trolls. Christ Almighty could step into the job and you guys would still bitch. For all the complaints, notice how few suggestions have been offered in this string for how to improve the situation.

8:48, EXCELLENT point about the creation of the hotline - that could have a big impact on the increasing numbers. Hadn't thought of that.

BB, I don't see the data broken down by month. I do see that 2007 and 2008 numbers were pretty steady and the increases started in 2009 (except staff on youth assaults, which declined).

Anonymous said...

Grits you are correct about the comments and issues, you may be wrong though about the need to post

If you raise a question about anything, you pay a price. If you make a suggestion about anything you pay a price. If you mention even a practice that crosses a legal line, you pay a price.

There are few that have even spoke out and were labled "just a disgruntled employee".

You have a great web-site, only wish you would recognise there is a fire burning behind all this smoke! And until your ready to hire some of us, we have to keep working and trying. But there are real problems and a need for HONEST leadership. It might even come from Cherie, if she would step up and use the merge as a chance to start over!

Anonymous said...

As a JPO in a small county we send kids to the state facilities because we have no where else to send them. They are the worst kids so it is not surprising the incidents have gone up. With the updates in the reporting system, like 8:48 said the hotline, and total awareness of potential abuse allegations everyone is afraid NOT to report even the stubbed toe.

Anonymous said...

Grits I would agree with you to a point about some of these posts, but it is concerning to most why these issues are taking place. When programs are built upon the notion that you can do whatever you want with little to no consequences, it will continue. Not saying we should hang them up by their toes but you have to teach wrong and right. When you do not address these issues they just get worse, this is a role of leadership. Connections has been a failure since day one, the way it was rolled out, the lack of training, follow thru by leadership.

Anonymous said...

Right on Grits.

Anon, 2/14/2012 08:18:00 PM, you are historically correct in observation that in the past, staff have responded to reform efforts by allowing youth to riot, escape, fight, etc, more than usual.

One of the more embarrassing episodes in TYC's history was right after Judge Justice issued a court order in Sept 1973 during the Morales case. The order set out strict guidelines for use of force. Staff reportedly encouraged/allowed massive rioting to occur.

The whole thing backfired on TYC, and ended up with its administration and board of directors resigning in disgrace.

All that said, I am not sure that dynamic is in play in the current case. Not enough info to really know. But a good point.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Again, quotes from advocates who have NO CLUE how any facility truely operates. Work a week in each a small medium and large county facility. Work several weeks in a state facility. Then and only then can you accurately make comments and conclusions.

Anonymous said...

@2/16 - 12:49

Does a person really have to get in a car and go run into an oncoming train in order to comment on the ills of being in a train wreck?
And will creating 5 million more pages of policy and procedure really avoid future train wrecks?
If people so ignorant that they can't follow 5 policy and procedures what good is 500 more.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

Well Grits I just love the Juvi post. Its entertainment to read these cowardly lions implodes all over themselves, throwing one another under the bus, thrashing their boss lady. And with the merge to cover up their state sponsored pedophilia the infighting between the losers and the lost is just good clean American funniness. Not funny ha ha.

About the post. I think to call a fight at gladiator school an assault is about as asinine as one can get. Just goes to show how so many in juvi corrections are absolutely clueless. Some things historically never change. I’d be curious as to how many of these fights are actually staged by the dorm man. Now that’s a realistic stat not just some J O B justifiable bs produced for pin heads by pin heads.

12 to 1 ratios must be boring as hell holding a dorm these days. Back in the day if a dorm man couldn’t handle a 40 to 1 ratio he was considered a punk. Hell even the matron could handle 40 to 1 but since they weren’t a man it really didn’t count. We respected the matrons back then, how can these kids respect the hoochi mommas that call themselves matrons today. Oh you ho’s now call yo selves dorm men today, what a joke.

I would also like to remind you state emps of a history lesson of where a superintendent was pushing reform for these kids. He was murdered by having his car set up to look like an accident. He was replaced by a guy who was called beat’um Blair and all was happy in the land of state sponsored child abuse. Until the next attempt to clean up the agency. How do I know this, a guy in the auto shop at the time told me, he’s in his 80’s now.

And to the grown men shown in the trib picture abusing that poor defenseless boy. So we have a photo of what you people do to these kids before you take them to a back room to molest them. I wonder if any of you state emp pedophiles would like to try and restrain a grown man like you did that child? Then again ask yourself how it would look when you go to suck the workers comp teat because some old state boy sodomized you with your OC can.

Fighting at the states prison prep school is part of its gladiator program. It is what it is, so you people really ought to get over yourselves.

RAS said...

2/16 1:05 Have you looked the kids in the eye and listened to their tone of voice while enforcing policies and enforcing policies and enforcing policies( visualize that repeated another thousand times along with the face to face observations of the anger from the kids as well as the frustration, the impatience, the hopelessness from knowing that they need real help and they aren't getting what they need) Yes anyone knows that they don't want to hit a train head on with a car, but no one that hasn't been in a potentially fatal car wreck can say they know what it's like. Could you defend a kid that punched you in the face a dozen times from exagerated claims about the incident? If the answer is no then you don't meet TJJD's standards for JCOs.

Anonymous said...

RAS - you're sick.

RAS said...

How so?

RAS said...

Sheldon, what trib picture?

Anonymous said...

2/16 5:43 you hit it right on the nail. so called experts sitting in glass houses with no hands on experience can talk in theory all they want but when it comes to implementation they need to be the first ones to get to try it out. First, none of them have the courage to work with the kids face to face and second they would cringe the first time a kid acted out, turn tail and run. JSO's/JCO's work hard, definately for the money, and I don't care what Sheldon or other pundits say, most feel like they can make a difference by helping the kids. Again, Sheldon, you may have had a bad experience but have you worked with the kids currently in our system? Thought not. Get over yourself. All the other bad mouthers in this post you must not really care about making a difference.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to complain about the "violence rate" in youth lockups. But, the bottom line is that the counties do not want these kids back in their communities. Because of this the state is has to figure out how to work with what has been given to work with them and manage their behavior.

How many of the advocates complaining about these youth would want them in school with their kids or living in their neighborhoods.

Many of the limits placed on the state with respect to providing services to these students were caused by budget cuts. Yes, the number are down, but, the percentage of violent youth is increased and there are fewer resources to work with these youth.

Maybe the citizens of Texas should figure out how to provide services to these youth before they need placement in a State facility. It is easy to point the finger at State employee's, but, how about holding communities responsible for taking care of the kids they bring in to our society. Until then, the State is obligated to do the best it can with the limited resources provided to help these kids.

Also, Grits, it would be nice if blogs and other media published some of the good stories that happen. Like kids leaving state operated facilities with their GED, high school diploma, going on to college, earning trade certificates so they can get good jobs. But, I guess that doesn't sell.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bush,

I agree that there is not enough information to indicate that these numbers are related to pushback from employees at the reform or new leadership.

That said, anecdotally (not sure if I spelled that right), I'd hypothesize that there are no examples of a broken juvenile justice system being reformed where that has not happened. Gladys Carrion has been experiencing this in the last several years in New York. It seems to be a factor in California's reform efforts, and your historical look spells that out at each turn in the institutions in Texas.

Grits - working in the system at a local level, I'd say I agree with several of the reasons given for posting anonymously.

I feel more comfortable doing that so long as I'm not slinging dirt.

Anonymous said...

Some good points in the comment section among the usual drivel.

First, the point about building up staff morale and taking care of the staff is excellent. Staff morale is quite low and without an improvement and buy-in, all reform efforts will be for naught.

Second, the point about how the press typically ignores success stories is absolutely spot-on. I know of several youth who have left our facility and call their former caseworker, teacher, JCO, or whoever to update on how well they're doing. But as the reader said, the press, public, and advocates don't appear to be interested in those kinds of stories.

Tim Moss said...

After working 6.5 years at the Giddings State School I decided it was high time to hightail it out of there... and am here to tell you it's the BEST THING I've done in the past 6.5 years.

All those new stats can be skewed to serve whoever compiled them, but I know a few things AS FACTS:

Staff morale at the school is at dead rock bottom. The youth are given little or no consequences for their violent (etc) behavior. The "CoNextions" program is univerally reviled by the Correction Officers. The current Administration is incapable/unwilling to assert authority over deadwood Staff OR out of control youth. Veteran Staff are resigning in increasing numbers due to the increased youth violence, or have just given up in the hope that it will prevent them from being the next victim.

I tried to help bring about positive changes while employed there, up to the point of posting comments on this and various other websites, emailing newspapers, politicians, and even Dear Abby -- with negligible response or success. I even started a website (tdjj.yolasite.com) in an effort to provide a sounding board/forum for positive change to happen... and was informed that the site was "of no concern" to Admin.

Well, OK, but I'm not working there any more, and, as a taxpaying "civilian" I plan to go back to the beginning and take back up where I left off -- even more in-your-face than ever.

Bottom line is, THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN and people need to know this! Time, money, and lives are being wasted. Corruption, nepotism, racism, etc etc have helped turn GSS into the failed State Agency it is.

Check out the comments left here before this one. Read my blog. Read the Guest Book. Read the YellBox and decide for yourself: Is this REALLY the kind of juvenile "justice" we want here in Texas? I say it is NOT.

Anonymous said...

Tim Moss,Just looked at your website. While interesting it is full of nothing but whining with no substance. Was really kinda funny, you are asking for people to stand up and take a look at things but when people respond to you all you do is badmouth them?? Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I think the increase is happening due to a no consequence program that is being used.

Anonymous said...

Hey fellas,
Finally someone is standing up and taking notice at Giddings. Some VIP's interviewed staff and kids and wern't afraid to ask questions.

Anonymous said...

One thing that people need to understand is that if you use your name here and you are employed at TJJD they will retaliate against you in the worst ways. This is not fiction but fact. Everyone in Management and Administration want to paint a nice Rosy picture for everyone to see. They doctor up records and sugar coat things like a full scale riot to "Just a few students." Cover up assaults so people won't know that is happening. The truth is that Giddings is close to melt down. Administration and management don't care until things explode in their faces. Just the past couple of weeks several staff were injured including one severely. Not to mention broken arms and more. Staff is overworked and tired. Morale is in the toilet. It's not uncommon for staff to work three to four twelve hour shifts a week. Heh, TJJD has completely blown their budget on overtime and we were also informed that we will be given "Comp Days." Um, last time they did this most of us never were able to use the comp days period. (Well except the special nepotism and favorites) Staff have gone a full year without getting any vacation approved! Yet the special people get theirs. Now add the fact that youth are no longer held accountable for their actions. Act out, swear at staff, threaten staff, expose themselves to staff? Most cases they are sent right back before the incident report gets to security. The staff now have the youth right back to laugh at them. Often you hear them brag. "I'll be back in just a few minutes!" Even when youth assault staff they will be back within an hour or a day. If they actually stay for any length of them they are put on RDP and you guessed it! Back on the dorms to laugh at the same staff they hurt! Staff are tired. Constantly lied to by management and administration. Most are looking for work elsewhere and have developed an uncaring attitude I don't give a shyt is a common thing now.

Anonymous said...

If Giddings is so bad what about all the other ones? Corsicana??, Mart?? Others?? Who was the VIP at Giddings?? Whitmire? Perry? John Wayne? Someone tell us more.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wanna tell ya little fella....... Had it been ole Marion Robert Morrison he woulda taken em in dead.

Anonymous said...

Just Sad:
It is so sad that the people living in glass houses, can sit back and point fingers at the JCO staff, because they are on the outside looking in. Not once have you worked a 12 hour shift with the youth we have today (majority on meds). Staff are cursed at , threatened, assaulted, exposed to masturbation by the students and there is no action for the youth. It is easy to say that it is the staff's fault, but what about the reason they are locked up in the first place? TJJD is high restriction (prison) for juveniles. I like the way you throw the word youth around as if they are elementary students having a bad day. These are criminals whom kill and injur citizens everyday. Not only are we correctional officers, but we are tax payers as well. If I was in Wal-Mart and was assaulted you say send him to jail, but if I am abused in an institution it's o.k because I am a staff. So my question is where is my constitutional right to be protected from assaults? I can't even file charges without the blessings of OIG. You people come in with your surveys and then think that it's written in stone. No one wants to face reality, we need a program that focuses on changing the behavior so that the juvenile can be a successful reintergration back into society. Alcohol and drug is adressed, sexual offenders are adressed, capital offenders are adressed, but the general population is just being housed and released and will get out and kill somebody. The staff really need a viable program verses this cowardly bashing from people whom are not in the trenches. Everyone that works does not mistreat the youth, I can tell you that not one time does the survey ask the youth how he disrespects the staff and refuses to follow staff instruction. I could go on and on, but it wouldn't make a difference and there won't be a positive change until it does make a difference.