Thursday, March 08, 2007

TYC scandal shows the politics of crime and punishment

State Rep. Sylvester Turner and his staff deserve a lot of credit. He was the first elected official to give a damn about the Texas Youth Commission sex abuse scandal, said Brian Burzynski, the Texas Ranger who began investigating the allegations in February 2005.

Alison Brock, Turner's chief of staff, began shaking the bushes in late October 2006 and immediately thereafter the prosecutor - who had previously expressed no interest in the case, who even squelched attempts to pursue misdemeanor indictments while sitting for months on felony sex abuse allegations - all of a sudden wanted to prosecute. Burzynski described his frustration at the system's failure at today's joint committee hearing:
When I interviewed the victims in this case, I saw kids with fear in their eyes. Kids who knew they were trapped in an institution where the system would not respond to their cries for help. Perhaps their family failed them, society failed them, and TYC definitely failed them.
He said he promised each of them, "The Rangers would not fail them," and that this would not happen again. "I made that very clear."

"I can only imagine," he said, "what the students think about the Ranger who was unable to bring them justice." It's a good thing Sylvester Turner and Alison Brock were there.

Don't ever let anybody tell you that law enforcement isn't political.

What does it say about the criminal justice system that, with all the sex offender hype going on last year during the campaign season, Texas' elite state police couldn't get an alleged pedophile running a youth prison indicted? It makes you glad we have three branches of government, huh?

UPDATE: See more on Buryzinski's report, and coverage of the hearing from the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas News, the Brownsville Herald, KEYE-TV (with video of the Ranger's testimony), and the Washington Post. From the blogs, see Capitol Annex, Texas Politics, the Texas Observer blog, Kuff, Patricia Hart at BurkaBlog, and Rep. Peña's A Capitol Blog. though the best blog headline of the day goes to In the Pink Texas: "T Why C." Here's information about the new 24/7 TYC Abuse Hotline discussed at the hearing.


Anonymous said...

You will not see Rep. Sylvester Turner waving a political flag or hiding behind a political party, rather, he stands for what is right whether for TYC or TDCJ. Alison Brock, his tenacious Chief of Staff will not stop until she has ferreted out the truth regarding any circumstance that tramples on the rights of people in this state. Together they represent the kind of team that we are proud to have representing Texas.

Cheri Lincoln, Vice-Chair

Anonymous said...

Representative Turner's staff are 110 % committed to justice in this state. Alison Brock is a champion of the truth and I'm glad this blog has recognized her. If there were more like her in government, things would be better.

Anonymous said...

The last time I looked Lemuel Harrison the Superintendent for the West Texas State School was still drawing a monthly check (he is just suspended), the current Assistant Superintendent at West Texas State School Ayo is currently working. And the folks that allowed them to promote Don Brantley, Linda Reyes, the #2 and #3 staff in charge at Central Office in Austin are still in charge. What ground has been made in all of this, just allot of Senators beating on their chests with the House Members stating "Amen". Give me a break, one staff resigned (Dwight Harris), one board Chairman resigned (Pete Alfaro), and one JCO staff at Coke County was found to be a registered sex offender was fired. Keep pounding on those chests.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, there were still several bills pending in the Legislature that would banish registered sex offenders from Texas urban areas. Yet here we have evidence - per the Houston Chronicle - of over 6000 (that's SIX THOUSAND) allegations of sexual assault by state employees. Clearly our politicos have their priorities misplaced. What will they do now that they have to deal with real issues rather than simply pander to the fears of their constituents and showboat for the cameras?

Anonymous said...

"It makes you glad we have three branches of government, huh?"

Yes. And also that we have two parties.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Turner I say thank you!

Anonymous said...

My name is chris. I am 18 years old.. . I was in al price sjcf in beamont texas for nearly 13 months. Al price had alot of violence and riots and such but never did i witness sexual abuse and i knew EVERYTHING that happen on campus. i did hear many stories at the MOAU facility and heard about Evins and giddings SS and VFCA being known for sexual activity. im just here defending the JCO staff in APSJCF that help me get out thanks

Unknown said...

If y'all have faith in this system of incarceration for kids then can I buy some niavity from you?

Nothing will change (except temporarily) until WE THE PEOPLE decide to change it.

Texas is hard on crime, great, but children are not little adults. TYC and our legislatures aren't the only ones who have forgotten this. Our prosecutors, police, judges, and some teachers have also. And believe me, TYC facilities in TX. aren't the only place we warehouse kids until they are seen by a judge or for trial. Juvenile Detention Centers are no better.
In 2007 its tragic we allow people with similar temperaments as Ms. Ratched (One Flew Over the Coo-Coo's nest)to protect our children.
Some of the kids in juvenile facilities have never even been tried or convicted of ANYTHING! Didn't the Germans do something similar?