Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nuther TYC Reform Bill Clears House Corrections

The House Corrections Committee passed HB 2807 by Madden, which is a major Texas Youth Commission reform bill, out of committee last night. The chair issued a press release this morning which I reprint here for interested readers:

~Omnibus legislation addresses major concerns and improves quality and oversight~

Austin, TX - Late yesterday evening, the House Corrections Committee unanimously adopted House Bill 2807 by Rep. Jerry Madden (R-Richardson). The legislation improves and strengthens the quality and oversight of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC).

"Over the past few months, we have thoughtfully reviewed the shortcomings that led to the deplorable incidences at the Texas Youth Commission," Rep. Madden said. "House Bill 2807 thoroughly addresses these problems at many different levels and brings this agency back into the trust of the public, parents, and most importantly, the troubled teens of Texas. I would like to thank Vice Chairman Scott Hochberg and the rest of the Corrections Committee for their patience and contributions in solving this difficult issue."

House Bill 2807 significantly reforms the internal structure of the TYC. It establishes an Office of Inspector General giving certified peace officers the power to investigate fraud by TYC employees. An independent Office of the Ombudsman will be established to investigate, evaluate and secure the rights of children committed to the TYC. Additionally, the state will require quarterly reports on internal audits of the TYC.

Juvenile Correctional Officers shall receive 300 hours of training before they undertake guarding duties and will face more rigorous criminal background checks before employment. The TYC will have one guard supervising every 12 youths, and age will be a significant factor when assigning officers to supervise youths.

From now on, courts will not longer send kids to the TYC for misdemeanors. A minimum length of stay shall be given to each youth admitted to the TYC with an indeterminate sentence. Long-term rehabilitation plans, reviewed at least every six months, will be created for each youth and a quarterly report will be sent to the youths' parents or guardians. For the first time, the TYC will be required to create a Parent's Bill of Rights.

An independent Special Prosecution Unit will be created to support local prosecutors when taking the TYC crimes to court and the state shall reimburse them for costs incurred during the prosecution. Independent of this legislation, the TYC is scheduled to be under review by the Sunset Commission in 2009.


Anonymous said...

More on HB 2807:

Anonymous said...

Don't look now, but about 50 kids showed up at one parole office in Houston on Monday after being released. Staff was so overwhelmed that most had to be rescheduled. Rumor has it that about 75 percent of Dallas kids haven't shown up at parole officer's door and are already violating parole...looks like lots of recommits soon.

Anonymous said...

My crystal ball is broken, so my ability to predict the future is flawed - but - I forsee that in two years we will see some of the worst "get tough" juvie legislation ever. By changing the law on committment to focus on the crime not the child we have gone from a system aimed at rehabilitation of the whole child to one of punishment.

The juvenile probation departments with which I'm familiar have (absent sex offenses) never committed a child because of the crime. THey have committed the child because of the efforts made in the past to help him and his family live within the law. Even though the child has not committed a felony, if he has been through deferred pros, probation and intensive supervision (monitor) and still is reoffending by, for instance, breaking into cars - he needs to be removed from the home. Rural resources do not provide for placement.

This will sufficiently frustrate enough communities that, by next session, the Lege will come down on kids like a ton of bricks.

Why do we have to do surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel?

Anonymous said...

we are now doing surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel because people believed the hype and sensation before taking a comprehensive look at reality. What would one expect when you take committed felons and the people who enable their behaviors and won't take responsibility for their faulty rearing over hardworking, taxpaying, honest state employees. I can understand the media falling prey to rumor mill, but elected officials did likewise when they catered to the aformentioned special interest groups and added injury to insult by humiliated voting constituents without substantiated factbasis as well

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:10 --
A "comprehensive look at reality" reveals that TYC is fundamentally flawed and needs wholesale reform.

As is clear from the posts on
Grits, not all TYC staff have always been "law-abiding." Further, it seems most of these folks made these mistakes many years ago, i.e., when they were young. It seems that you want to have your cake and eat it too: TYC staff shouldn't be fired for their criminal pasts b/c they have changed, but nor should complaining kids or families be given the benefit of the doubt.

Let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees. TYC was not working well for anyone -- kids or staff; this is an attempt to fix it. Rather than complain, why not establish a "special interest" group of your own? Unionize.

Please don't stereotype all parents of TYC youth as deadbeats and incompetents. Many of the parents that have come forward to testify before the legislature are law-abiding voters and tax-payers just like you who try hard to be good parents and providers. It takes all of the voices to make up a democracy.

Anonymous said...

the Texas State Employees union while well intended is a very weak organization. No objection to complaining parents and children when they tell the truth. My issue is with our elected officials and what they choose to believe. This fiasco has cost people their entire lives and careers.