Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Don't overlook problems at private youth facilities

Not all Texas Youth Commission facilities are run by state employees - several are run by private contractors, and so far they've received less scrutiny from the Lege than their state-run counterparts.

With TYC under intense scrutiny, Kathleen at Texas Prison Bidness wonders why Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut) hasn't drawn more fire for the Coke County facility it runs which has also seen sustained allegations of abuse:

Geo Group's Coke County Juvenile lockup may not be the absolute worst of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) scandal, but their problems reach back far and pretty deep, and it would be a shame for TYC to not address them while they are in the public eye.

Geo Group already had a notorious record when it won the contract with TYC. Then GEO Group was allowed to keep its contract even after the horrible 2000 lawsuit for sexual abuse of a girl named Sara Lowe in their custody that revealed widespread problems at Coke County Juvenile. An employee with a past sex offense conviction had abused and then stalked the girl, 11 other girls reported abuse, and in other incidents, two employees pled guilty to sexual assault. As a result of the suit, Coke County Juvenile stopped housing girls. But the story ended tragically, with Sara Lowe's suicide the day of the settlement.

With a record like that, you would think GEO Group would be worried about how they're going to weather this shake-up at TYC that's dealing with the employees of Texas Youth Commission so harshly. But with thousands of reports of abuse, misconduct and poor conditions at youth prisons across Texas, Coke County Juvenile is managing to stay out of the headlines (sometimes), maybe because they are not the absolute worst Texas youth prison.... For example, of over 2,000 reports of medical care problems across the state, Coke County Juvenile ranks sixth in complaints, with 95 reports of poor medical care, -- more than most, but again, not the absolute worst of the bunch. And Coke County Juvenile has only made recent headlines for firing one employee with a previous felony conviction --- an employee with a juvenile conviction for exposing himself to another child.
See the rest of Kathleen's post. She also has an item on immigration officials refusing to let a human rights expert visit with families being held in the T. Don Hutto immigrant prison in Taylor.


Anonymous said...

TYC contracts are the main reason Grits I am against privatizing TYC and/or social services in general. Some of the allegations that come out of the contract facilities like Coke County make the allegations at WTSS seem tame in comparison. Other than power to end the contract TYC has little to no control over the facilities. The state may not be the best solution but it beats privatized contracts where profit is the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Contracts are the exact reason TYC Has had problems in the past, they do not work and have never worked coke county couldnt handle the Females and they sure couldnt handle the boys thats why they are closing.
Someone said Ron Jackson has an investment in the Coke County Facility ???That sounds kinda strange ..