Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hinojosa: TYC needs oversight, training, segregation of kids by age

It'd be easy to rattle off several posts criticizing silly, ill-conceived or just plain spiteful legislation filed so far at the Texas Legislature, but hopefully a lot of that stuff is symbolic grandstanding that won't go far. Instead I've been waiting to see what good legislation shakes out that's worthy of support.

To that end, helpfully, past Grits guest blogger Isela Gutierrez of the Texas Coalition Advocating for Justice for Juveniles (TCAJJ) checks in with the latest in the juvenile justice front at the Lege. I don't folllow juvie stuff closely so I'll give you her version. Isela writes via email:
Great news on the legislative reform front! Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D) from District 20 (which includes Corpus Christi and McAllen) in South Texas has pre-filed SB 103, an exciting and important reform package for TYC.

As currently written, the bill would:
  • Create of an Inspector General office in TYC parallel to that in TDCJ, which means investigators are peace officers with criminal justice investigation experience and background, the Inspector General reports directly to the board, and investigates incidents of employee fraud as well as allegations of criminal activities, such as abuse and neglect.
  • Provide additional state funding to local prosecutors (for expert witnesses, inquests, translators, etc.) to prosecute crimes that occur in TYC facilities.
  • Requires that Texas Rangers randomly inspect one TYC facility/month and reports the findings to the Sunset Commission. This provision would expire in September 2009, the same month as TYC as an agency is set to sunset (meaning the state legislature has to vote to renew the agency's charter).
  • Requires 300 hours of training for TYC offices before putting them in the field.
  • Prohibits TYC from housing youth under 15 years of age with youth older than 17 years of age in the same dorm.
View the entire text of the filed bill.
Let me know what other good (or bad) criminal justice legislation you think Grits should be watching in the 80th Texas Legislature, in the comments or by email. Session doesn't start for nearly two months, and bills filed early don't necessarily have a better chance of passage than those filed in early March at the deadline. But it never hurts to get the lay of the land.

UPDATE: More from the Brownsville Herald.

1 comment:

essias1 said...

As a mid level manager in TYC I think we do well with limited resources. That said, I think the legislature needs to abolish TYC and put the money into local incarceration and rehabilitation efforts through local probation departments. They are much better equipped than TYC to really help kids. You don't do kids any favor by locking them up far away from home and with little or no incentive to change their behavior. Olus, following this approach would mean huge savings to the state of Texas and the tax payer.

I have not seen a commissioner or executive member on our campus in years. We exist and do pretty well because of a handful of good and dedicated people.

No sour grapes....this is just the way it is. Thats why TYC has so many problems retaining employees - no money and no leadership.