Friday, August 31, 2007

Take Grits' feasibility survey on possible Texas juvenile justice conference

Ed. note: Pulling this back to the top to encourage more readers to take the survey.

After Wednesday's hearing of the joint legislative oversight committee on the Texas Youth Commission, I'm more concerned than ever about the near-vacuum of ideas being discussed about how to improve the troubled agency. More than anything, yesterday's committee discussion seemed superficial; the most critical issues, IMO, were for the most part sidestepped. In what forum then, I wondered, will they ever be discussed?

I've been considering the possibility that Grits for Breakfast might be in a unique position to host a conference on the topic of Juvenile Justice and Reforms at the Texas Youth Commission. What do you think? Is that something you personally would be interested in attending? (Take Grits' feasibility survey about a possible conference.)

The idea would be to bring together in one place (Austin) TYC officials, employees, inmate families, advocates, legislators, law enforcement, judges, county officials, local juvenile justice professionals, and everyone else who cares about the future of juvenile justice and the Youth Commission in Texas. Potentially, ideas generated could help shape agency policy, inform the Sunset review process, or suggest legislative initiatives for 2009.

Most potential speakers or participants I've spoken to so far have been excited by the idea. But since Grits is a solo project now, I'd have to charge for the event. Unfortunately it couldn't be a freebie. So it's important to get some idea ahead of time whether enough people might be interested to make the project worth it.

To help gauge interest, I created a survey to find out what people might like to get out of such an event, and to determine whether its financially feasible. I'm especially interested to find out what topics readers think it should focus on, or what the conference overall might accomplish.

Click here to take the survey or let me know what you think of the idea in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Be like Nike and just do it. Most, I bet, will come on their own expense. It's a very important issue facing not just Texas, but the nation. Great idea Henson.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an excellent idea! What is the estimated cost?

Anonymous said...

I filled out the survey and would like to come...Just need to know when and I'll be there. Great idea Scott.

Anonymous said...

Good idea.

Anonymous said...

To be honest with you after this last session and hearing what we heard and how the legislators seemed to care little about TYC's plight, lets just put this to rest. It has become a sad reality that nothing will happen.

Anonymous said...

As long as the Lege thinks it knows everything, and keep scamming the public with their "save money so that they can steal more money from the public coffers" nothing will happen.

This is one time that they have stuck their foot in it and can't get it out.

Grits is right, keep shoving it in their face and keep the public aware of their stupidity.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be bad to have some national experts come in and tell the press the mistakes Owanes and Pope are making. It was pretty annoying when Pope referred to the mess the juvenile experts had got TYC in. Like there were never any sexual problems at TDCJ. Like they're considered by anybody to be a well run agency.

Anonymous said...

exactly 9:10. or like experts -- jj or otherwise -- had anything to do with getting tyc to where it is today. that hearing was a disgusting display of one of the worst kinds of cronyism.

grits, you said the hearing made you "curious." it shouldn't have. the reason for whitmire's over-the-top behavior was his personal relationship with one dimitria pope.

the point i am making here is not that they were once or are together. i would be willing to excuse that. the point is that he is allowing that fact to blind him to his duties as an elected official. everyone knows that in the grand tradition of democratic politicians, whitmire loves the ladies. fine. i don't begrudge him that. but for whitmire to essentially block the oversight committee's critical (if annoying) role because of his romantic interests. well, that's just plain disgusting and offensive.

whitmire got plenty of press of this tyc deal during the session. more than anyone else, including the reform bill's author hinojosa.

after that sham of a hearing, i would have loved to have seen his photo with a headline reading: "oversight committee chair defends ex-lover as tyc head."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If "the grand tradition of democratic politicians" is to love the ladies, what does that say about republican politicans, who seem to love only the young boys lately?

Which party's appointees covered for Brookins exactly?

Corruption is as corruption does.

Anonymous said...

Touche, 5:47.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there something about avoiding not only ethical conflicts but even the appearance of such?
Late night comedian humor aside, it isn't the political affiliation that is relevent, it is the conflict of interest or the appearance of a sexual bribe in this case (and, seriously, no actual assumption of fact, only the appearance). Come to think of it, isn't that how the scandal started: kids being pressured for possible early release or college? Maybe it has gone full cycle.

Anonymous said...

First of all thanks for this site and your efforts to keep the focus on TYC. Although I have not seen the recording of the hearing the other day, I have heard enough from my co-workers. One got tired of counting the number of lies or mistruths spoken by Pope.

My concern is that we have no treatment program. The Blue Ribbon Panel Report was reportedly not helpful.

In another email from a new TDCJ administrator in reference to abusive harsh actions of staff he recommends immediate identification and termination of staff.

I have been instructed to use common sense in UOF and was given about 1.5 hours of training in cuffing and spraying.

Sorry, but although I think I have more than the combined amount of Common Sense of all our current TDCJ Spartans in charge, this is still not adequate training to treatment.

Sad to say they know nothing about treatment or rehabilitation.

Ms Neal said the problem is that we can't bring the Missouri people here, to run TYC. I would say that includes the Administration / Executive personnel as well.

Bring on this conference, even a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel, Barry Krisberg, in the AAS editorial indicates we need a culture of caring and the current direction of TYC in not in the direction of becoming a national model for juvenile corrections.

This is the first information I have gotten about the Blue Ribbon Panel. Too Bad we have to get our information from the paper. I am totally frustrated with the job these people are doing.

Let's not even refer to it as Leadership.

Anonymous said...

to said:
"oversight committee chair defends ex-lover as tyc head."

I like that one, here's another:

"oversight committee chair defends ex-lover as tyc Enter-Rim (Interim) head."

OMG....that's just too funny!

Anonymous said...

I am a special education advocate, and I am in close contact with certain individuals inside TYC. The recent "big change" that was supposed to fix everything has only made things worse. I think a conference is a good idea, but it will have to be a conference with an objective for action, and not just a get together for everyone to vent. At least in one unit I have observed, TYC is breaking more special education laws than I can count. In that regard, I don't need any speakers to tell me what TYC is doing wrong or right.

In dealing with public school systems and personnel since 1993, I have learned how to hold school personnel and administrators feet to the fire and MAKE them do the right thing. I have also learned that just making the public aware of a bad situation doesn't usually get things fixed. It usually takes much more leverage than that. The public at large can be very apathetic regarding something that doesn't directly affect them, and of which they have little knowledge of the inner workings.

Yes, I would like to see a conference. But, it is going to have to be a conference to develop a plan of action to MAKE these people do the right thing. Just trying to convince them that something is wrong isn't going to make them fix it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that all these allegations and inuendos about a possible romantic association between Ms Pope and the good Senator contribute nothing towards a resolution of the problems TYC is in. Let's stick to the facts, people, and not get distracted running down rabbit trails concerning possible sexual inproprieties of adults with adults. At best this distracts us from the very real problems that currently beset us; at worst it could be just plain unjust. Old Salty