Friday, July 13, 2007

More detail on secret TYC plan to privatize prisons for 10-13 year olds

Thanks to Jim Hurley and Mark Higdon at the Texas Youth Commission I've got more news on the secret plan to transfer TYC inmates aged 10-13 to privatized contract facilities. Neither the media, TYC employees or even as it turned out Mr. Hurley were aware of the proposal until recently, even though the process already is quite far along and contracts could be awarded (according to the RFP) as soon as the next week or two.

The RFP declares successful bidders will "commence services" no later than October 31, 2007.

Here's the request for proposals for privatized detention centers for TYC youth aged 10-13. Fifteen bidders responded, and multiple contracts may be awarded. Potential bidders were privately notified in April and bidding closed on June 4. There was no press release or public statement about the decision, nor were employees internally notified.

Here's the list of companies and nonprofits that submitted bids to operate detention centers for young offenders, according to information forwarded from TYC:
  • 4M Youth Services, Inc
  • Alliance Adolescent and Children's Services Sulphur Springs, Texas location
  • Alliance Adolescent and Children's Services Arlington, Texas location
  • Byrd's Foster Group Home, Inc.
  • Cornell Corrections of Texas, Inc. dba Abraxas Youth and Family Services, Inc
  • Cornerstone Programs Corporation
  • Eckerd Youth Alternatives, Inc
  • Every Kid Counts, Inc
  • People Need People
  • Renewed Strength, Inc
  • Rosalyn Rufflin/Lifestream Behavioral Health Residential Treatment Center
  • Southwest Key Programs, Inc.
  • Totally Fit Ministries, Inc.
  • Youth Services International, Inc. Tyler, Texas location
  • Youth Services International, Inc. Eagle Lake, Texas location
I'll have more to say on this subject when I've had a chance to go through the RFP and its numerous attachments in more detail, but wanted to put the link out there for folks with an interest.

One positive note - the RFP mandates smaller facilities with less than 48 youth per site, and staffing must be 1-6 during the day and 1-12 at night. But that doesn't explain why the services must be privatized - that should have been happening at TYC's existing facilities all along if the Legislature had ponied up the necessary funds.

I don't know where this idea came from. I've never even heard it floated that Texas should privatize detention for 10-13 year olds. It certainly has nothing to do with the scandals that launched the reforms. The Legislature didn't mandate it, that's for sure. How can this idea have gotten so far - an already-closed RFP with 15 bidders - and nobody knows anything about it?

This one, my friends, doesn't pass the transparency smell test. That's a huge change. We're talking about farming out 21% of TYC's most vulnerable charges to bottom-line oriented private contractors. How can this have remained a secret? A commenter correctly pointed out:
So they just did a 6-stop "State of the Agency" tour and forgot to tell employees they were moving 10-13 year olds into contract care?!! When did they plan to mention that, I wonder? After Geo Group received the contract?
No kidding! That almost begins to seem like intentional deception by the TYC administration. Not only top brass but every potential vendor in the state new about it. However, the TYC employees whose jobs would be affected, the parents whose kids would be moved, and advocates working to improve the system had no input in the decision. I don't know whether state legislators knew about the policy shift, but from this RFP it appears to be a fait accompli.

I'm seriously beginning to wonder if anybody at TYC's top management has a clue what they're doing, or if we're just witnessing an extended amateur hour by a bunch of folks who have no business running a state agency.

These were easily avoidable mistakes. TYC simply MUST implement a process to vet new policies and privatization initiatives through stakeholders. Please, TYC management - I want y'all to succeed, but you've GOT to get your act together over there, folks.


Anonymous said...

Same game just better liars! I would like to know if any of the prime movers are connected to the bidders. Does Whitmire’s law firm represent any of them in their effort to win the contracts. I have maintained from the beginning this was a play to take the heat off the governor and take TYC contract in one move. I appears I was right on target! Follow the money and it will lead you straight to the truth every time. As I have said the people involved with the destruction of TYC and countless lives don’t care about the kids in TYC, that was all a show. The real reasons were hidden from the public. It is all about the love of money and how can I get more of it regardless the cost in human suffering. May God curse you and all of you descendents for the evil you have done to the children in TYC and the people who worked there. May your ill gotten money destroy you, as you have destroyed others. So might it be Lord, hear your servant’s cry for justice. Bring them all low that they might see the great wrong they have done so they might turn from their evil ways.

Anonymous said...

You get an AMEN on that one!

Anonymous said...

Another Amen, 5:25 p.m. (minus the curses). Let's watch this. You can always follow the money.

Anonymous said...

Anon 525 just wants them to be brought to a place in life they see what they are doing is wrong. The curse is probably the only thing that will get their attention and make them look at their own lives. When you are flying high everything looks good. So I will add an Amen with the curse added for their own good!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to point out to GRITS that if you look back at your blogs toward the end of the sessions to one of your direct links to either the conservator's plan or the joint committee plans you will see noted in one of them a past due date at the time of release for a contract with I believe Bell county for 40 younger youth in contract care.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that that the words "intentional deception" would be used to describe the actions of the current leadership of TYC. And phrases like "makes me wonder if anyone over there has any idea what they're doing?" are being uttered by the same person who just yesterday chided posters as being "cynical" about their comments regarding Mr. Ed and Ms. Pope. Could it be that Grits is begining to see that there is more to what is being posted herein than simply sour grapes and cynicism. This executive administration has transcended any mandate that the legislature ever intended and they are doing so with a complete and total disregard for ethics, morals or anything remotely resembling responsibility to the agency, the youth, the staff, the citizens of Texas.

Privatization in TYC has been tried before and failed. Is it going to take video of a 10-13 year old youth (male or female, your choice) being molested by a bargain basement, $7.00/hr. contract care staff to open our eyes to what is taking place here?Ed, Dimitria and the rest of their TDCJ imports are so out of their depth, they shouldn't be allowed to manage an ant farm, let alone living, breathing human beings (and most especially youth).

CNN and ABC News reported today on the now infamous "150", who are going to have their TDCJ paroles stopped. The ABC News report clearly stated that (according to Jim Hurley) that Mr. Owens and Ms. Pope knew nothing about these releases, and blamed caseworkers and superintendents for the snafu. Maybe I'm wrong, but if you're in charge of anything, you are responsible for whatever happens within it. No passing the buck! No shifting blame. That's why they pay you the big bucks!

Something must be done to curb this wholesale carnage. This is a situation that probably needs to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. No one in the lege, the AG's office or the Governor's office is going to do anything about it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Coryn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ya know what Grits?

I have been thinking that I need to apologize to you for some things I stated in another post.

BUT, this just proves I was right and YOU should not be repeating the lies told to you by CO as God Given TRUTHS without some sort of viable varification!

When I wrote that the summary stated that 3 additional facilities were anticipated for closure; YOU restated what CO had told us in that the summary was in error and that HB1 did not state closure of any facilities.

What you apparently did not know and TYC CO did not tell you is; I was referring to the OFFICIAL STATE OF TEXAS WEBSITE summary and not the "TYC Executive Summary".
We saw this TYC summary and asked CO about it. They claimed the closures listed on it were a mistake.

If this is a mistake then why are all of the numbers on the "TYC Executive Summary" identical to those on the "Conference Committee" summary and they just happen to be IDENTICAL to the numbers on HB1.

One hell of a coincidence!!!!!

Actually, after this story, I think you are finally starting to see through the not so transparent spin that CO admin is putting on everything.

I guess I do owe you an apology and it is offered.

If you want to find out what is actually going on you will need to follow the first posters advice and "follow the money" because you will get a whole lot of superfluous, vague, and ambiguos answers from central office.

You will never get a straight and honest anwser from Pope Sauron and her Juan Gotti wannabe crew but you will be appointed to a committee to investigate the solutions. Of course your solutions will be ignored as they already have their own and you will do it on your dime as you will no longer be employed.

This whole thing smells!!

Let me see:

Legislative fiscal notes are a misprint.

Official legislature website LBB summary is a mistake.

Official conference committee summary: signed May 25, 2007,is also in error.

Listed closures in multiple official papers were just an erroneous misprint.

TYC Executive Summary was also mis-written.

An Official letter denying facility access to volunteer ex-convict mentoring groups was sent by someone "down the pipe" without permission or knowledge of CO administrators.

A similar letter was sent to these groups by an UNKNOWN person from Gainsville.

An RFP for multi million dollar contracts for 10-13 yr olds was sent out without the knowledge of CO administrators.

State of the agency meetings never mentioned these contracts because Pope and crew didn't know about them.

Eric Young feels bad for the employees of Marlin but it's their fault they are unemployed because he informed them they would be unemployed and stayed anyways.

All of this leads me to believe that a horrendous break down in communication has occurred. Since CO Administrators are obviously to busy recruiting TDCJ buddies to be sending out their own memos then the entire blame for all these errors must lie with their secretaries.

How dare you secretaries run this agency as if you were one of these central office idiots. If this isn't the case and we are to believe all the wonderous stuff we have been hearing then may I please and most affectionately say:

Sure Santa, I'll sit on your lap. What do I want for Christmas you ask? I'd like a slinky. I'd like a toy BB gun. I'd like a""" OHHHH Mannn, Ohhh Santa, is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Get a grip!!!!!!!!!!

Hey look it's rudolf.

Anonymous said...

Surely there's another, better STATE-OPERATED option for specialized programing for the littlest ones.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember what happened at Littlefield? TYC had a contract a number of years ago there for the 10 - 13 year old males. It was a miserable failure. Someone also needs to review the recidivism rates of youth coming out of contract care facilities. I believe that the recidivism rates are higher than the rates for TYC institutions.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ 9:33- Please stop looking at any summaries for information about facility closures. If it's not in HB 1, it's not in the LAW. I don't know how to be plainer about that.

Please show me where are the closures in actual state budget it's supposed to be summarizing, not in any summary. It's simply not in there.

I've spent a fair amount of time trying to chase this down, and no one agrees with your interpretation (including lege staff, not just TYC). Clearly those closures were in some plan at some point during the legislative process, but they DID NOT MAKE IT INTO THE FINAL STATUTE. I don't know how to be any clearer.

That said, this recent episode doesn't inspire confidence that TYC would be very transparent if and when it comes time to make such decisions, but the Lege would have to approve additional closures, and HB 1 simply DID NOT!

And Dr. Papschmear, I'm just calling balls and strikes. In this case, though, it looks more like an intentionally hit batter, so I called them on that, too. I don't see an inconsistency there. This evidence didn't exist before, or at least hadn't been put together. I don't assume people are being disingenuous, but when they demonstrably are I'll say so. best,

Anonymous said...

There is only one problem with the DOJ investigating is their boss is Alberto Gonzalez! Does anyone think the current national administration is going to turn on their boy, Guv Goodhair? And what about Elmer, ever wonder why he did the about face on Kimbrough being the original conservator? Finally, remember how Whitmire engineered the conservator issue in the first place - gross fiscal mismanagement? Follow the money.

Anonymous said...

Look at the commitments from everything west of I-35, look at the desire to drive/push out commitments, selling the 10-13 years olds to the LOWEST bidder, and trust me, West Texas, Vernon, and Sheffield are toast.

If you recall the legislators stated "If any other facility closes other than John Shero and Marlin that will be the decision of the Administration".

If you truly want to believe these facilities will stay open and your employed there, if it makes you feel good, stay. But reality will come in November for one of them and the 2008 for the next two.

Anonymous said...

How much of her $125,000 salary is Pope gonna give up for farming out the the state's youngsters?

Anonymous said...

Grits here is a question.
What are they going to do about the Emotionally Distrubed youth that are 10-13 that are housed in Crockett and Corsicana? Do they go to contract placement also?

I thought I read where they put out a contract request for 15 year olds also on the link for the State Committe Minutes.(might not be the correct name) Are we not missing an age group here, 14 year old kids?
If they send them all, God help us all and those recieving some of these kids. This is a damn shame!
One thing that I have not read on the blogs and wondering if I am the only one that believes this way is this thought?

IF we are getting rid of all of these kids to contract care, does anyone see RIFS comming to TYC again?
We all are concerned about closing facilities but no one has said anything about the downsizing of the students population that will cause the need for less employees in those units that remain open.
Teachers, office personal,Teacher Aides,casemanagers,etc.This is what I see coming down the pike for those of us that remain open.
If your going to farm out the kids and downsize the units,you want need the staff that you have now. Rifting employees in my opinion is the next secret that has not been told. Put a pencil to the number of students per unit and see how many teachers, aides your going to need to teach these kids.
In the unit I work in we are already short so many kids we don't class rooms with students. Teachers are going to other teachers rooms to help out. If we get down to three or four kids in a room our students are moved into other classroom to pack them full and our class period is wiped out.

Instead of taking advantage of having all this one on one time to actually spend with these students we are sent elsewhere to manage behaviors. Does not make sense. As low as these kids are this time would be the best they ever had it to help pass the GED or learn to read.
Rifs? My dime is on that for the next "As the World Turns at TYC".

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the tradition of keeping secrets inside the walls of the TYC did not stop with the West Texas scandal. Everything is big in Texas folks ...especially in the area of deceptive legislation.

Anonymous said...

shit, shit, shit. No. Don't go there.

Henson, go look at the human resource code, and compare it to SB103. Strike out age 21 in the HR code and replace with age 19. Now compare..... they didn't think about that now did they... and now it looks as if TYC is just releasing everyone... ummm... Madden, Chuy, and Whitmire, eat shit... there's your bill...

Anonymous said...

There were two days with a very large group of people to review the responses to the RFPs for both 14+ years and 13- years. No word to TYC employees if the contracts were awarded. This was before Paula Morelock retired.

The fiscal note to SB103 is predicated on the reduction by 56 FTEs per year after 2008.

General comment on the "new" administration: The Pope and entourage are so busy making decisions that they don't have time to talk to TYC employees.

Some questions: Why the big push to set up regional offices when the Sunset Commission is supposed to study the advantages and disadvantages of regionalizing into smaller facilities? The Pope has been saying we would regionalize since day one so i guess that settles that and the Commission's study will validate her wisdom ultimately.

And why is Eric Young still at TYC? Historically he has made very public comments about the lack of competence of TYC staff, saying such things as, "We hire the people that the chicken farms won't take." Perhaps The Pope still needs him to do some things. One can only hope! However, scuttlebutt has it that her promotees are here to stay. And with quite hefty salaries compared to the regular folk. and the commoners will drop off once they get acquainted with the concept of being Kleenex (apologies to Kimberly-Clark).

Footnote to GRITS: are you still a staffer at Texas ACLU?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't know about the emotionally disturbed kids, that's a REALLY good question.

Nurit, I left ACLU nearly a year ago.

Finally, to my intrepid critic, if we soon hear an announcement about a November closing, I'll be on board that more in '08 are closing. But right now there's just no hard evidence for it. We're all operating in an information vacuum (despite the State of the Agency tour) and I'm sorry if you think I'm cutting too much slack. I'll guarantee Pope, Owens, et. al. don't think so.

Anonymous said...

So far, there's nothing on the informal communications network about emotionally disturbed youth being sent to contract facilities. Also, some scuttlebutt about additional closings based upon the as yet unpublished agency budget. That's where the FTEs and programs begin to disappear -- the Finance Department. Reality hits when it comes to the dollars. The decisions about where to cut are usually quite curious and certainly on the face appear to be made by folks without a direct service background.

I still want to believe that we have an opportunity at hand to institute significant positive change in the way Texas children are handled when they commit serious offenses. But having been in this business in several states over the past (I won't reveal how many) years, the cycles just within my lifetime have come around several times. And since it is of necessity a political process because it involves public money and public safety, I truly wish there was a way to inform and educate the politicos who make these major decisions that would let them hear non-administrators and as unbiased as is possible from those who have dedicated their career in the service of children's needs.

Anonymous said...

NURIT: Why Regional Offices you ask? To make more FTE Administrative positions available. This is just history repeating Texas Department of Correction's growth. When Regions were established we initially had three Regions, each had a Regional Director, and two assistants, one for Security and one for Treatment. Within a very short period of time each Region had at least a Regional Director, Two Assistant Regional Directors, a Safety Officer, a Grievance Coordinator, a Disciplinary person, and supporting persons. No FTE positions AVAILABLE? No problem! The Regions just took Supervisors from the units and used them for 90 days on a rotation basis. As the units were always short on staff the reasoning provided (to eliminate "heat") was: "This program is to evaluate employees for possible promotion". Apparently some employees had to be "evaluated" several times as the Regional Offices continued to drain the units of much needed supervisory staff.

The rotational supervisors were primarily used as "gophers". In the Huntsville Region two "Rotational" Supervisors "piss-anted" the Executive Director's (Andy Colllins) Primary State vehicle to Austin when ever he took the State plane. He had anther state vehicle assigned to Austin for his use but he preferred his "favorite". And yes, when he returned to Huntsville another trip involving another state vehicle and two rotational supervisors was completed.

What should happen is TYC officially be rolled into TDCJ. The Regions are already established and apparently TDCJ has already assumed the "Management".

And let's not read anything more about their qualifications (or lack of); That wasn't a requirement for their promotions in TDCJ why should it be for TYC?

And you want to talk about taking care of the wards of the state? No problem! Look at the Rehabilitation accomplished BY TDCJ.

I cannot believe the "ledge" allowed this; who were they listening to?

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Someone who still has e-mails that came down every Friday from C.O. demanding that every child on the list they sent go to SCC immediately and be released supply them to Grits...Grits, this was the new dreaded Friday info. Every Friday a list came down from CO with specific kids that the Supt. was forced to release after a "show" of going to SCC...The supt. and facilities were the puppets and C.O. was the marionette in this case...please get the word out to the MSM to help stop this train before it causes us more damage.

WAR said...

Grits, please find out whether the youth Madden stopped from being paroled were 19 and older and mandated by his law for releaase from TYC facilities.

There has been persistent pressure for TYC staff to release these youth from TYC.

What criteria will Madden and DP use to decide when or whether to release these youth.

Maybe they plan to send them to prison rather than parole. These kids have already been told they met the parole release criteria. If they are sent to prison because of "politics" this could cause disturbances in the facilities.

Also, when is DP going to accept responsibility for these "mistakes" and stop blaming lower level employees. If she didn't know she should have known.

Anonymous said...

It's clear to me that our elected officials, Whitmire, Hinojosa, and Madden have made a horrific mistake in the selection of the current TYC leadership.

They must own up to this before it's too late! As TYC kids say, quit fronting, get rid of these TDCJ wannabe TYC's and seek the most qualified juvenile justice experts for these jobs. Juvenile corrections is a far cry from adult corrections!!

If your intention is to make TYC the Texas Department of Juvenile Corrections, then admit to that! The dog and pony show you have forced upon us is far from being qualified in juvenile corrections and far from ever having the respect and loyalty of TYC employees. You have replaced the regime that gave us the systemic disease with a new one that is spreading it at a far more disasterous pace than the old one ever did. Who and how many will they continue to use as scapegoats---this seems to be their "coup d'etat."

It is all about MONEY and perhaps a little or a lot of polictical pillow talk. Makes me wonder on whose pillow the talk is taking place? I just want to know who is spreading love all over the legislature, as the old SWA slogan used to imply. Oh wait, could it be those now in power with the strange looking noses or the ones with the $$$$$ signs in their eyes?

In the final analysis, we have only our elected officals to blame for this mess. If only they would just admit to it and correct it.

As a Texas constituent, might I remind them that at re-election time, geez; teachers, TYC employees and communities will come out to vote in mass force! I will not let them forget to! Whenever the time comes for each of you! Texas will talk loud and clear! The lives that have been destryoed, the felons you fired whom have family members that can vote, and the youth that will be able to vote when the time comes, they will show you the love! I hope you can handle it!

Explain to me when eithics, morals, truth, professionalism and responsiblity to your constituents when out the door? I am not saying all of our elected officials are bad! But folks, it only took two administrators at WTSS to give all of TYC a bad name! Should we be investigating the legislature because of the dog and pony show forced upon us? The findings might be interesting but I tend to lean toward a lot of polictical pandering instead. Who is watching the watchdog? Wake up Texans!!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 7:48. You have to realize that Sen Whitmire has crafted a very successful career by trashing State employees in the eyes of the voters. Don't you see? Whitmire is a hero in the eyes of the average voter. He is protecting them from having their hard-earned tax money being wasted by all the sick, lame and lazy State employees. TYC is not the first state agency to fall under his calumny. Most recently, in 2005, he "fixed" CPS (which is why he wasn't interested in hearing about TYC scandals in 2005), and before that, in 2003, he "fixed TACADA." Next session he will make headlines by "fixing" either the Health Dept. or DPS.

Scott, you say we all need a good union. The pols have taken care of that one. The only power a labor union has is the power to institute job actions - and job actions are specifically made illegal for state employees.

Let all this immoral nonsense serve as a lesson for those young people who may be considering a career as a public employee. Texas has never respected its state employees and never will.

Anonymous said...

Don't bad mouth GEO for getting boys look at Southwest Key and their relationship with legislators. Hinojosa specifically, this whole think is not about the youth of Texas it is about money and whose pocket is greased. Also, about vindication for legislators ignoring and cutting budgets for years then trying to look good when everything goes to pot. True, TYC and "some" of its employees deserve blame, but the Legislature certainly deserves their share and and the Governor who led the charge for cutting state agency budgets MUST be held accountable. It's OK to hold the agency accountable but lets hold legislators and their lackey's accountable as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 3:24 as well as with those who say, "follow the money." Doesn't Whitmire's lawfirm represent some of those private contractors, or is that just a rumor? There is another factor in play, though. The young kids are the most difficult to deal with behaviorally. These TDCJ clowns do not have a clue about how to deal with juveniles. Who do you think told JW to offer those kids on the roof the ice cream? So, if they do not know how to deal with juveniles in general, they certainly do not know how, nor want to, deal with the really young ones. That is the real tragedy, because these young ones are the ones who have the best chance of being turned around. God help them! I mean that literally.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FWIW I've heard rumors but seen ZERO evidence on Sen. Whitmire's law firm profiting from any of this. Beyond a few Google searches I've not tried to track it down, but as far as I know this is pure rumor. Somebody post your source if you've got it.

Anonymous said...

I was told today that adding Contract Facilities is now on HOLD. Wasn't told for how long.

Anonymous said...

One Thing:
Grits said he can't believe that the plan was secret and it really means something than what it says.

Why is this so hard to believe, BUSH pushed the Patriot Act one and two through BARRING CONGRESS from reading them. And they took our civil liberties away.

Wake up Citizens, Demand Answers.

Quit allowing the government to think for you, coal, state, or federal. They don't care about us, just the MONEY in their pocket. And if you don't think that all they want is money, look at the history of our governmental advance.

OH, in case you didn't know, all this is preperation for the coming full implementation of Martial Law, which was resigned into law in May by our current DICTATOR, of which he said he was.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, which of your civil rights has been taken away?

Anonymous said...

someone please help me. I am the parent of one of the youngsters he is 11. We only agreed to send him there cause we were told he would receive specialized treatment. Now they are telling me he is too young for their specialized programs and are just pushing him aside and he has not gotten any help.

My husband and I believe he may be borderline autistic, but can not get the medical staff to listen. He is bi polar, but no psych to see him either. I have tried to call the director several times and all iget from the staff is that they are trying to move him to a private facility, but that it will take time. He is the youngest in his facility by 4 years and has been beaten by the inmates 3 times since his arivial in june. Any help would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

You need to contact the Texas Rangers! I do not have their address, but I'm sure you can find it online. The Rangers are the ones who investigated the West Texas State School's sex abuse scandal earlier this year. There is also an abuse hotline posted on the TYC website...not sure how much REAL help that would be, but it's worth a try. Good luck to you and your family.