What Mike Ward didn't get is input from some of the 300 plus employees assigned there regarding the program. Several Correctional Officers sent us input on the program, and how it works. The employees don't bad mouth the administration, and are generally satisfied with the support they get from the admin there. The objections from line staff centered more around the structure of the program itself, and the fact that it was centered on the Clemens unit to begin with. Through open records, and from Correctional Officers assigned there, we have learned the following. Some of which is contrary to what Mr. Ward presented in his story.See also a slideshow of pics from the Youthful Offender program that accompanied Ward's article Monday, and Grits' own discussion of the suggestion to model youth prisons after TDCJ's Youthful Offender Program.
1. The Clemens unit is #1 in the state this month for discovery of contraband items, to include cell phones.
2. The Clemens unit, built in 1893, and the add on housing areas in 1972, is basically falling apart from the inside out in the South Texas salt air. Violent YOP offenders are housed in cells that frequently come open on their own due to being outdated and un-repairable, and staff as well as other offenders have been assaulted as a result.
3. YOP offenders must be kept separate from other offenders, and the design of the facility makes it nearly impossible to accomplish that feat on a daily basis.
4. YOP offenders are not assigned jobs, and therefore do not work in outdoor hoe squads or garden squads as stated by Mike Ward. But maybe some labor wouldn't hurt.
5. The program itself is poorly constructed and doesn't take into account that many of these teens have long (40+) year sentences and are housed with offenders serving 5 years or less. Any teen will succumb to peer pressure. The teens come from the streets, many are prone to violence and have no concept of the programs content. Many are continuing disciplinary problems, but cannot be sent anywhere else in the state due to the nature of the program.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Facility age, design, and programming deficit hinder success of youthful offenders at TDCJ
Over at The Back Gate, a blog run by TDCJ corrections officers, staff at the Clemens unit have many critiques of the Youthful Offender Program - which houses Texas youth certified as adults - that didn't show up in Mike Ward's recent Austin Statesman article promoting adult correction models for juvenile offenders. Said the blog: