Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Important questions still unanswered by TYC State of the Agency tour

A commenter in this Grits post about the Texas Youth Commission's "State of the Agency" tour says "someone needs to ask the important questions that the dog and pony show doesn't address." I thought they're good questions, so I'll post them and see how many we can get askedin Austin tomorrow. Or if you happen to know the answers to any of them, by all means use the comments to chime in.

Also, maybe somebody at TYC can forward these inquiries to Ed Owens and Dimitria Pope so they'll know they need to be prepared to answer on the topics:
Where are the written policies to implement the "reforms"?

What did happen to all those suspended employees and what did that boondoggle cost? [Ed. note: Also how many were terminated over felonies they'd previously disclosed?]

Why are personnel being hired without job postings, interviews, and in some cases no juvenile justice experience or other job related experience?

Why are many contracts being issued without competitive bidding?

Why was an outside law firm hired to handle open records request when there were TYC attorneys available to handle the requests?

Why are there still 19 and 20 year olds incarcerated more than a month after SB 103 took effect?

Where are the review panels that SB 103 mandated?

How is TYC providing sex offender treatment without licensed sex offender treatment providers?
They're good questions I wouldn't mind knowing the answers to myself. I'd add to that:
Where is the reorganization plan for what happens when the Marlin Orientation and Assessment unit closes in August and who is in charge of the process?

Do you anticipate additional facility closures before the 2009 legislative session and if so what is the process for making those decisions?

For units that won't close do you plan architectural changes to eliminate open bay dorms and adult correctional design features, and if so were those projects funded in the state budget?
What other questions haven't been answered so far to your satisfaction from the TYC "State of the Agency" tour? Let me know in the comments. The agency's top brass will be in Austin tomorrow, so maybe we can get some answers.

UPDATE: More good questions from the comments:
When is TYC going to have a new rehabilitation program?
What rehabilitation program is TYC currently using? Is it basically the "Resocialization Program," which is a copyrighted program? If not, how is it different?

How are release decisions being made right now? Are youth completing the program (A4B4C4) or are they just released automatically when their minimum lengths of stay (plus disciplinary lengths assigned prior to 6/8/07) are complete?

Will AMI's continue to be investigated by Youth Care Investigators with a right to appeal the findings to legal?

Will there be changes to the use of force policy? If so, what?

Since TYC can't assign disciplinary lengths of stay through Level 2 hearings any more, what will be done to hold youth accountable for misconduct?

Will the OIG investigate cases of youth assault on staff and take those cases to court?

How many youth assaults on staff with injury have there been since March 6th?
I'm headed to the capitol soon for the event, so maybe we'll get some answers.


Anonymous said...

I don't know who is in charge of the process of closing Marlin and John Shero, but I do know that all positions except JCO positions are frozen throughout the agency until employees from those two institutions have a chance to request them. The HR people from various campuses are at those two institutions right now to facilitate that process.

Anonymous said...

What is going to happen to the volunteers with criminal records who were approved via previous policy? And when will we know what their fate will be so we can let them know the truth?

Anonymous said...

Will this meeting be available via live stream since it is taking place at the capitol? I for one would love to see this one!

Anonymous said...

Public school for teachers new to a district starts Aug. 6 or 8, less than a month from now When will TYC tell teachers if they have a job? If they dont tell teachers soon, the only teachers left will be ones that couldnt get jobs in the public sector. Does TYC want to fill its teaching positions with people that couldnt get jobs anywhere else?

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud when I read that DP is going around the state forming a committee everytime someone has a tough question for her & her little posse. Here are some excellent quotes about committees:

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. ~Author Unknown

To kill time, a committee meeting is the perfect weapon. ~Author Unknown

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours. ~Milton Berle

To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent. ~Robert Copeland

If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock. ~Arthur Goldberg

As an ex-TYC employee I have been following recent events with amused interest. I left the agency in part because it's the most immoral, corrupt, and incestous place I've ever had the misfortune to work. I visited almost all the facilities and HWHs and here's my biased conclusion: For every decent, hardworking, and caring employee at any one outpost you'll find 5 or 10 who are supplying/selling contraband to the kids, having "relationships" with the kids, taking pleasure in harming/humiliating the kids, and intimidating or threatening co-workers who disapprove. And if they're not doing any of the above you can rest assured they're having affairs with each other on a regular basis.

Here's to the decent folks, hope you all get new, better jobs in a normal place. And here's to the rest of you, you're finally getting what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

Well I can tell you that a suspended employees that I know of were given their termination papers on 7-2-07. They were given a letter stating that they were being terminated due to policy changes not due to job performance. Tell that to the next employer who calls for a job reference from TYC and is told that a person is no longer eligible for rehire, but can give no other information regarding the situation. This is what you get for doing the right thing and being honest.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how the CD dorms are running when all of the LCDC's that I know of were terminated for their criminal history? So, problems with the sex offender treatment, problems with the chemical dependency treatment, do the youth just get up in the mornings to mark another day off of their sentenced time? All that will teach them is how to count days, not how to become productive members of society.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1:01 pm...Unless I missed something, there is no one at John Shero from any other HR at this time. They (CO HR) will make their first appearance on Friday the 13th to hand out RIF packets. The week of the 16th, they will be back for individual interviews (if requested). Later in the month a crew from TDCJ will be at John Shero to recruit.

Meetings...the viable alternative to work.

Anonymous said...

4:04 You had to have worked at Hamilton!

Anonymous said...

I can answer your last 2 questions grits but first let me tell you a funny story about the richardson meeting.

Marlin employees were given their pink slips on Thursday. The next day in Richardson, during open questions, a lady is called upon to ask her question. She states her name and that she is from Marlin. Then she states how glad she is to finally see Mrs. Pope separating the care for males and females into different facilities to meet girls special needs. Mrs. Pope quickly answered the lady by placing her on the committee to help determine the girls treatment. The staff was ellated to be chosen to help guide the girls at their new program of success!

I guess the moron was ecstatic because of all the free time she'd be able to devote to this endeavor due to her new found lack of employment.

I guess stupidity is bliss and not ignorance!!!

As to your questions:

Yes, they have the money to rebuild the dorms into single rooms. Approximately 20 million.


If you (GRITS) wouldn't believe the crap they fed you about HB1 you would have seen where 3 more facilities are closing.

Where do I get this?


Mrs. Pope claimed I got this info from a blog site as she blew off my question. Do you actually think you are going to get a straight and honest answer from her or her committed group of cover up and kiss butt crew.

Try folling this link and look at what I believe is the second link down on the left side of the first page. I believed it is labeled as the LBB summary or such. Open this up in PDF and look at the page numbers on the document not in adobe reader. Go to page 139 on the document and it states that besides the 2 facilities going to TDCJ, 3 more facilities are anticipated to be closed.

If you look at the numbers on the right for youth commission you will see that 2292 is the magic number. This means we still have to drop another 800 kids. Also, their new hire numbers for education counselors and such, treatment people, etc. match up with 8 facilities and not eleven. If you actually pay close attention to the numbers you will actually see that these facilities aren't even funded for 08 much less 09.

I'm outa here! CO can KMA!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


1. When is TYC going to have a new rehabilitation program?

2. What rehabilitation program is TYC currently using? Is it basically the "Resocialization Program," which is a copyrighted program? If not, how is it different?

3. How are release decisions being made right now? Are youth completing the program (A4B4C4) or are they just released automatically when their minimum lengths of stay (plus disciplinary lengths assigned prior to 6/8/07) are complete?

4. Will AMI's continue to be investigated by Youth Care Investigators with a right to appeal the findings to legal?

5. Will there be changes to the use of force policy? If so, what?

6. Since TYC can't assign disciplinary lengths of stay through Level 2 hearings any more, what will be done to hold youth accountable for misconduct?

7. Will the OIG investigate cases of youth assault on staff and take those cases to court?

8. How many youth assaults on staff with injury have there been since March 6th?

Anonymous said...

The first question i would ask is why do Ed Owens and Ms. Pope feel qualified to be in their positions and I think the obvious answer to why staff in administrative and leadership positions are being hired without juvenile justice experience is answered by the fact that the people hiring them don't have any either...

second, do you really think six weeks after a new law goes into effect is too long to identify appropriate placements for violent youthful offenders with determinate sentences, some of whom haven't completed their minimum periods of confinement? Transfering youth to TDCJ takes time and getting them through the parole process with adequate supervision is also time consuming. the people working on the committees and completing the duties required to accomplish the movement of these youth have been working tirelessly for weeks and have some very difficult decisions to make.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:16 said it well. Grits, exactly what was Harris supposed to "follow up" with? TYC can't arrest, indict, or imprison anyone. I know about the allegations that WTX people had been trying to tell someone but no one took them seriously, but the fact remains that when the Ranger had the evidence, the two were terminated and the issue was turned over to the prosecutor. The prosecutor didn't act. The legislature knew about it, but they didn't pay attention until the session started. Why didn't the Ranger just arrest the two when he had the evidence? He had the authority to do so and I bet he wishes now that he had. The governor may have plausible deniability, but his people do not. They knew, too. This agency has been sledge-hammered for a terrible but isolated situation that didn't characterize the agency as a whole. As time passes, the picture will be clearer. In the meantime, our students and the staff who want to help them are paying the price.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

We've been through this about the summary. That carries no legal weight. The provisions you're citing about closing three facilities are not in the HB 1 budget - they simply aren't.

HB 1 is the LAW. The summary is just a summary, and it doesn't track what the law says. It's in error.

As for Harris, the fact is the agency was and is a shambles. High turnover, poor morale, inadequate facilities and confirmed staff on student abuse rates that tripled since 2002. WTX wasn't the only incident, we've seen similar stuff come out in Brownwood, Corsicana, etc., that nobody at TYC ever informed the Lege about. He ran the agency into the ground then left when it was time to pay the piper.

Does the Lege share blame - absolutely. But for policy and budget stuff. It's TYC's management's job to run the facilities.

Anonymous said...

Who is running this ship now??

How long does it take for a person to step up and be accountable?

Is it not a ploy to tell someone, "I'll put you on a committee" to keep from having to answer questions and making a decisions?

I want solutions not problems, once again who is running this ship?

Anonymous said...


in your last post you could replace
"TYC" with "TDCJ" and "Harris" with "Livingston et.al.". Interesting isn't it? Of course we will have to wait until the next legeslative session for any action.

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Me again, Grits, from 10:54 p.m....

Tell me again why the Ranger couldn't have arrested the two at WTX on the spot...
Most of the problems at the facility I worked in had to do with too many kids at one time and inappropriately-configured living space. You can blame that on Harris if you want to. Maybe he should have been more assertive with the legislature about funding. My view is that so many fingers are pointing at TYC now because TYC had no way to defend itself. Again, the catalyst was an allegation at WTX, and although there were some missed opportunities (e.g., too bad TDCJ didn't disclose certain personnel information before Brookins was hired by TYC)and horrible missteps, TYC dealt with it the only way it could. The criminal justice system dropped the ball.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I actually agree with you that the Ranger should have arrested the pair, and Grits was the only media outlet I know of to raise the issue in this post. And there's not doubt the rest of the criminal justice system dropped the ball. But I stand by what I said about Harris running the agency into the ground. I really believe that.

Anonymous said...

Grits -- So, we agree that the Rangers missed a chance and the DA in Ward County failed to do his duty. How do you get from there to the agency having been run into the ground? If so, wouldn't there be dozens more sexual mistreatment cases confirmed by now? There are lots of allegations, but very few -- if any -- confirmations. Could be the Rangers are just being very deliberate with their investigations, but I still say this emperor (JK) has no clothes. I have always feared that innocent people will be confirmed, just so someone can save face. Time will tell.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

How do you get to an agency run into the ground?

How about 48% staff turnover? How about confirmed staff on inmate abuse rates more than tripling in three years? How about the highest rate of worker comp claims of any agency? And the feds were already investigating physical abuse at two units BEFORE the WTX scandal broke. You can also make that judgment based on outcomes: look at how many TYC kids wind up in TDCJ. Finally, rather frequent comments from current and former employees like that from 4:04 above confirm that impression.

FWIW, I've been saying TYC was a broken agency on Grits since well before the Pyote scandal came out. You could leave aside all sex-related allegations and I'd still think the agency was dysfunctional. They're not improving things, and in fact arguably may be making them worse. But let's not kid ourselves everything was hunky dory before TYC had a conservator. best,

Anonymous said...

If you think there were alot of unanswered questions at the State of TYC meetings, you should have been at John Shero when Eric Young and Mary Woods brought their version of Smoke and Mirrors to the staff there.

Just for fun, I asked the same question to both Mary and Eric and got two different answers to my question. When anyone tried to get factual information out of either, all that they got was double talk and outright lies. When one of the staff confronted Eric about what he had said to us back in March, he said it sounded as if that person didn't trust him. They replied that it is hard to trust someone who has lied to you in the past. From that point on, after every question that was asked, he would look over at this person and smugly say "Trust, trust, trust".

The TWC staff that came along didn't appear to be very enthusiastic about being at John Shero either. One of them even said of one of the handouts they passed out, "It's a real sleeper".

When it was over, we got our packets, were told to make our choices for jobs(from a list that was incomplete)and be sure to bring them with us next week for our individual session with HR staff. Most of us left eith more questions than answers.

Anonymous said...


They old regime definitely did their part to bring TYC down without the Pyote scandal. And I agree with you wholeheartedly that this new executive administration (mostly from TDCJ) is and will continue to make TYC's situation all the worse. You'd think that at some point someone iin the legislature or in the AG's or Governor's office would realize that the ultimate victim in this drama is going to be the kids we're supposed to be helping. How can we allow this to continue?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know the confirmation rates went way up. It's hard to argue with numbers, but they don't tell the complete story. TYC is in my rear-view mirror now, so I'm going to leave it there. It was simultaneously my best and my worst working experience. I'm hooked on your blog, though, so I'll be reading for a little while longer.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Grits, I lied. I said I wasn't going to post anymore, but I just re-read 4:04 again, since you referred to him as one of the reasons you believe TYC was already in a "shambles." Do you believe all of that stuff? He begins those comments by saying he's biased. In my time of more than a decade in an institution, I didn't see any of that except maybe coworkers having affairs with each other and that was just rumor. Honestly: Five drug-dealing abusive child molesters who threaten their coworkers for every one decent employee? Can't you tell that is a disgruntled person? You should not base any conclusions about TYC from people who write in hyperbole like that. The dust is still swirling. Wait until it settles.

Anonymous said...

I noted with interest the attempt to rehabilitate the Harris era. Say what you will regarding its problems (and there were many) at least there was communication between the direct care staff and Central Office. In the current state of affairs we are told to not use the "R-word" (resocialization) but we have nothing to replace it with. We are told not to use restraint techniques called Handle with Care but we have nothing to replace it. We are directed to release youth who we feel are at risk to the community yet the directives come with threats attached but no documentation so therefore no one in Central Office can be held liable for the bad decisions they are forcing upon the field. Finally of course jobs are not posted just assigned and therefore what are the qualifications. How do you know if you might be a good candidate for a position. This is cronyism and I fear for the effects it will have on the youth entrusted to our care.

Anonymous said...

If you don't knoe Pope, you're not a good candidate,