Monday, March 12, 2007

Kimbrough to TYC employees: Stop talking to media

A reader who works at the Texas Youth Commission forwards this agency-wide email:

To: All TYC Employees

From: Dr. Linda Reyes, on behalf of Acting Executive Director Ed Owens

Re: News Media Contact

Date: March 9, 2007

Effective immediately, all questions and requests from the media must be forwarded to central office for a response. Special Master Jay Kimbrough has named a special spokesperson, Jim Hurley, to handle media questions regarding our agency. We appreciate his assistance with the large number of media calls coming in to the Texas Youth Commission. At this time, it is necessary that the agency have a temporary spokesperson who is close enough to the investigation to respond to media questions accurately without jeopardizing any work currently underway by law enforcement agents.

Please continue to forward media requests to Tim Savoy. He will prioritize the requests and provide them to Mr. Hurley.

"Please keep my name confidential," says my source. "I don’t think they want us talking to you……"

Indeed. I bet they don't. I hope that doesn't deter y'all from doing so.


Anonymous said...

I would like to hear from the victims of these youth who are incarnated for aggravated sexual assault against their 2 year old cousin, the store owner pistol whipped, the elderly woman who had her purse snatched and fought her attacker and was sent to the emergency room. Where are they, yes the agency has some problems but talk to any JCO at any facility and they will tell you this is a dog and pony sow that is creating a environment where the incarcerated youth now have all the power. They threaten staff by stating if you don't do this I will turn you in on the hot line phone. All of the JCO staff are afraid to confront and make these youth follow the rules based upon the tactics taking place with the "Boots" on the ground. Mark my words one of these facilities will have a riot and the blame will be pointed squarely at the facility and not the folks creating chaos. There is no accountability taking place right now and a lot of finger pointing, somebody has to wake up before all the good staff leave based upon the ignorance that is taking place as we speak. Lets take a closer look at TDCJ I am sure they have three times the issues they are finding at TYC but it's not in the news or the "Issue" that TYC is currently.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous missed the point!!!! When the State has the power to lock anyone up, they also take on the responsibility to keep them safe. If TYC cannot keep the youthful offenders safe, they need to let them go. Of course it is difficult, they're under staffed and over worked but.....If the State is going to make laws to lock them up then they have to come up with the money, people and management practices to take care of them. If the State doesn't keep the incarcerated safe, they're committing a far greater crime. It is never O.K. in the interest of society and public safety to subject anyone to cruel and unusual punishment. That's the constitution and I don't care what they did, even capital punishment must be humane.

Anonymous said...

Ed Owens and everyone else at TYC want to control the information the media has. Just like they control the ability of the incarcerated to communicate. When the victims and the staff have no voice, they can get away with anything! Every ex-con and everyone that knows a victim of the Texas judicial system goes to the polls and votes for representatives that get tuff and clean up this mess at TYC and TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

Nobody doubts the youth in TYC have committed serious crimes. They have seriously hurt staff members who are afraid to touch them for fear of being fired. TYC operates a corrupt system that puts staff and youth in great danger.

I agree the blame game needs to stop and get on with fixing the problem.

First thing that needs to be fixed is the staff to youth ratio of 12:1 of better

Hold youth accountable for assault against staff that results in serious injury.

Hold staff accountable for crimes against youth such as Agg. Sexual Assault

Transfers youth out at age 18 instead of age 21.

Have a special unit for the violent youth who injure staff or other youth.

Have expanded mental health services for the youth who need it

Getting the young adults (18-21) out of TYC will change the culture dramatically. Dropping the ratio of staff to youth to 12 or less will make a huge difference in the level of violence.

We have to remember the youth in TYC today will be out someday. I would rather try to help them change in TYC vs. dealing with them in the neighborhood. I absolutely do not want to pay to put all of them up in TDCJ-ID.

The Legislature under funded TYC. The board let the TYC administration run wild. TYC administration was corrupt and worried about their next sexual conquest instead of business. Professional staff got cutout of the pay raise. A GED holder gets more than a professional staff. Maybe some of the problems will get fixed this Legislature.

Anonymous said...

my problem with the anonymous comment is, Do two wrongs suddenly make a right?

Anonymous said...

SH -
Your prior unbiased journalistic blog content has kept us informed about problematic situations plaguing our correction systems. Unfortunately, you have now become part of the problem in reporting the facts that you do not fully investigate while packing in too much of the left sensation.

Investigate deeper and return back to your unbiased nature of reporting that provokes thought which provokes action. Your style has changed with too much sway to the bias and that in and of itself looses creditability in anybody’s frame of thought for solutions.

Take out the emotion, the killer bees scare is over.

tttt said...


Anonymous said...

anonymous # 5 ~ give Grit's readers some credit. This is a valuable resource for keeping up to date with what is happening in your state, but that doesnt mean we take all that is written here as gospel. Its a starting point for further reseach, and Grit's doesnt preech. Neither the 'left' or the 'right' have a monopoly on the truth.

Well done to whomever sent in the orginal TYC memo.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ anonymous #5, What are you talking about? What was 'biased' or emotional about this post? What facts should I have investigated before posting this memo from TYC, e.g.? I hear the complaint, but I don't understand what it's aimed at.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Grits...the post is the actual memo, not something made up to satisfy the masses.

You must understand that by keeping TYC employees at bay...away from the media...the powers that be are able to hide more of the truth. This is how government works in Texas...hell, in Washington too!

Honey, if you want whitewash reporting just click on the TYC or the TDCJ websites. We only get what they want us to see...the dirt stays well hidden. I personally applaud Grits for keeping us informed.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again .... another agency under TDCJ with problems!! When is the the LEGE going to start cleaning house in Austin..Adult/Juvenile Probation, Parole, Prisons...It's time to stop this group of money grabbing people in power who do nothing for the GOOD people in the trenches and even less to protect those that are incarcerated. Get a clue and fire the whole bunch! CSO

Anonymous said...

Kimbrough in Austin American Statesman

By Mike Ward
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
“Stung by the disclosure last week of an agency policy that allowed convicted felons to be hired if top agency officials approved, Kimbrough said that new background checks will be completed within a few days on all agency employees and independent contractor employees — more than 7,000 in all.
"No felon will be working for the TYC, and if we find anyone, they will be out," Kimbrough said, stressing that he immediately suspended the current hiring policy when he learned of it.”

After many years of faithful service it looks like I will be fired because I was convicted of a property crime about 35 years ago. When I was hired I met all of the legal requirements at the time, along with full disclosure of my conviction. I am now going to be fired because Mr. Kimbrough wants to do a little political grandstanding. Too bad I am just short of retirement and disabled. Due to my age and physical condition new employment will be difficult at best.

It is also very visible Mr. Kimbrough does not really believe in rehabilitation or he would have not issued such a broad statement barring felons of all types from employment at TYC. At the time I was hired, 10 years was required to have passed since you discharge from the felony. The burglary of a building I was convicted of occurred in 1972. All of my performance evaluations at TYC have always indicated I gave a 100%.

So Mr. Kimbrough, since you don’t believe in rehabilitation then just how are you going to run TYC with the youth’s best interest at heart? Lets not forget you have no problem breaking the offer of employment that was extended to me by TYC without cause. Last time I checked TYC employees must have due process before they are terminated for cause. I don’t think your opinion of political grandstanding qualify as cause! Your stance is a perfect example of why due process is required for state employees to be terminated.

What about Ed Owens? Does Ed get to stay? He was part of a sex scandal at TDCJ. The state paid out big bucks for the actions of Ed Owens and his friend. If I am such a bad thing for TYC then Ed Owens needs to go along with me. If your new employment rule is legal then lets get the sex perverts too. In fact isn’t sex perverts what all of this is about?

William Bush said...

Grits, glad I found your blog, it is very informative.

I was struck in this morning's reporting by events at the San Saba facility. First, 2 kids escape the secure lockup and get recaptured at the border; then, there is a small riot.

This morning, the TYC spokesman said this: "The kids feel like they are in control now" b/c of the investigations.

This complaint is not new and is virtually identical to ones voiced by TYC officials in the 1950s and 60s.

In 1973, the TYC executive director was forced to resign when it was found that officials had manufactured a "riot" at one of the facilities under fire in a major federal lawsuit.

The timing of these events, in a secure lockdown facility, should raise questions. All may be as it is being represented, but given the reason we're all paying attention to TYC right now, I'm not so sure.

So I would encourage reporters and investigators to treat today's events with skepticism. They need to talk with the kids themselves as well as direct care staff in order to piece together something approximating the truth.

If the current scandal stems from top and second tier officials covering up abuses, then it makes sense to bypass them and talk to the ground-level people. So far I haven't seen much evidence of that taking place.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

please don't lump Juvenile probation in with TYC or Adult Probation. It is a separate agency that takes care of business right.

Anonymous said...

Is this type of memo the way to get, "all the facts", or is it just an effort to "stop the bleeding".

It seems to an outsider that in order to really clean house, they'll need to find a bigger broom.

Anonymous said...

To get back to the original post...TYC has had a rule for years that the public information officer is the person that should talk to the media and that certain information (youth names, personnel files) is confidential - by law. Kimbrough didn't come up with this on his own. The old rule didn't prohibit expressing personal opinions. I have no idea what the "new sheriff" intends to do.

These youth are in these facilities because some judge in YOUR county thought they needed to be locked up for the protection of the public. Our legislature made the rules about why and when a child is locked up. TYC has no control over how many are sent or why they are sent or how much money it gets to try to handle what they get.

And, yes, these juveniles have rights and the state should do everything in its power to keep them safe. Yes, they should be treated in a humane, responsible fashion. Yes, those who exploited and abused teenagers in TYC custody shouldn't have gotten away with it and those who committed crimes should be in jail. Those who didn't do the right thing should pay for their failures - with their jobs at the very least. But that should include the people who set the budget and the DA's who can't be bothered to prosecute these cases or the cases against youth who assault staff.

All of you might also want to consider how much thought you gave to these kids, these staff or this agency two months ago.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous @ 12:05 pm: Very, very good point. There will be more like you, and I say get the ACLU involved. That's not right. I bet the owner of this blog can help with who you need to contact.

And to anonymous @ 9:38 a.m. We will always keep this trusted blog informed. We don't cry... we multiply. I'm sure you'll start seeing more activity (on this site and others)regarding the backgrounds of the new blankets.... you heard about EO, but wait, there's more.

Finally, regarding the San Saba incident, a close source of mine laughed when I described it as a riot. Kids wanting to play midnight football during their teenage years is classified as a riot? They never hurt -or- tried to hurt anyone , and for that matter didn't hurt anyone at all. They just need more outside time given they are in-doors 23/7. These are kids mind you, and jeeze, I might be tempted to play a little midnight football too if my conditions of confinement were like those at San Saba. It's truely an adult prision taken by the TYC in 98....

Anonymous said...

I dont think anyone is saying that these kids shouldnt be in the secure units. They just need to be given the protection from abuse that I would guess most suffered on the outside before they wound up there. They are young offenders but they are also vulnerable, and child abuse is child abuse no matter who does it.

Anonymous said...

To sunray's: Let me preface all of this by saying the two perverts from West Texas should face a lot worse than Jail and a few administrators above them were either incompetent or worse (just a personal opinion.)

Of course child abuse is bad (and you're absolutely right about that being a part of why many of these young people are in TYC) but way too many of them are sent to TYC because the counties don't have another way to deal with them. The State doesn't given them enough money for local residential facilities or mental health treatment or family serevices or drug treatment and when these teenagers lash out they create more victims. The counties send them to TYC - in hopes that they will get help or at least get away from their abusive family or just because they are tired of dealing with them.

The problem with that solution? The state doesn't give TYC enough money to deal with them either. The agency has to choose remote locations for our facilities because we can't afford anything else. And when it tried to use smaller, local contract programs because we couldn't staff the remote locations or because the youth was low risk? The State said no - that cost too much money, we have these big facilities TDCJ isn't using, move them there. (Now they pretend it's their idea to move them back to communities.) And when we said, those facilities don't work, we need to reconfigure them? The State said, tough, do more with less, we have to spend our money to figure out redistricting and school finance.

Now they say TYC is solely responsible for this mess. Okay. TYC needs to take some blame, but not all of it.

The other reason they come to TYC?Because they are absolutely too dangerous to leave in the community. These are the only ones that should be in TYC and the State needs to change the law.