Thursday, November 01, 2007

Original Research: How Local Juvenile Justice Systems Can Survive the TYC Meltdown

We're going to try something new here on Grits and offer, for a modest $12 fee, a downloadable white paper I presented Monday at the annual conference of the Juvenile Justice Association of Texas on the subject of how local juvenile probation departments can survive the Texas Youth Commission "meltdown."
Purchase "Surviving the TYC Meltdown" here!

I was flattered and somewhat humored when JJAT invited me to speak at their keynote slot after TYC Executive Director Dimitria Pope backed out. (Thanks to Lubbock probation chief Les Brown whose department hosted the conference, and the Association board for inviting me.)

While this blog focuses a great deal on happenings at TYC, most youth offenders never go there - 97-98% of juvenile crimes prosecuted in Texas result in sentences implemented by local juvenile probation departments. So I researched and prepared a 17-page, footnoted "white paper" to present at the event describing how reforms enacted this spring impact local juvenile justice systems. While some of the information presented has been published on Grits, I learned a lot myself putting it together - particularly regarding impacts on counties, local juvenile probation departments and detention centers - and I've not seen many of these topics discussd publicly before since SB 103 passed. In broad stroke the paper argues that:
  1. Fewer kids will go to TYC, and those who go will stay for a shorter time. Learn why.

  2. New inspection responsibilities for the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, local juvenile boards, and judges.

  3. Looking to the Future: Counties must develop local incarceration alternatives, more sophisticated youth re-entry strategies, and strengthen community supervision to prepare for #1. What realistically can be done?

If you don't have a Pay Pal Account, see the link at the bottom left after you click the "Buy Now" button to make a secure purchase using a credit card. This is both a good way to learn more about how TYC's troubles impact counties, and also to support Grits for Breakfast. Thanks, folks.

Get your own copy of "Surviving the TYC Meltdown" right now!


Anonymous said...

Corruption is alive and well at McFadden Ranch.

The findings of the investigation are in about the abuse and neglect of a TYC youth who had bleach poured on an open rash he recieved while performing work at a TYC employees house.

The youth was coerced to sign a statement saying he would recieve an early release date if he dropped the much for Justice and Integrity at the "new" TYC.

Anonymous said...

my question is why were the offending parties allowed to remain at McFadden during the investigation and able to manipulate and threaten the youth into submission?? This was handled very badly!

COVER-UP! Both Pope and the Lege were aware of this situation. I am contacting MAJOR NEWS MEDIA...CNN would love to know about this stuff happening even after this mess exploded.

Anonymous said...

I am having my own personal TYC meltdown!! When issues like this continue to be buried it makes a person wonder why are we wasting our time!

Anonymous said...

So, they suspend a Superintendent over stamps but not one over this? Amazing.

Anonymous said...

You know we are all getting ready to see something pretty interesting or at least I think we will see it .
Looks like Da Pope is running TYC out of Money and as we all know without money they cannot oporate too well,LOL.keep your ears open as this is one cover up the New TYC cannot cover up and when the final tallies are in Da Pope will have cost the Stae of Texas Millions of our Tax Dollars.
Pretty soon we will be seeing Da Pope under IH-35 with a Sign that says Will Work for Food!!!!So everyone get your Lawyers ready to Rumbleeeeee

Anonymous said...

I bought it, I read it. Excellent piece of research and writing.

I'm am sure attendees are grateful for your efforts.

I am too.

Anonymous said...

Travel expenses alone could put us out of business. I hope the feds can help us feed and clothe our youth.

Can a state agency (or entire state for that matter) file bankruptcy?

Anonymous said...

Very nice work, Grits, I hope it was well received.

The report was both enlightening and frustrating to read. I learned quite a bit about features of SB103 I hadn't known about, such as the heightened inspection requirement for local JDCs.

But I also think that the many unfunded mandates, literal and implied, in SB103, mirror almost exactly some of TYC's original functions back in the early 1950s.

TYC was supposed to work very closely with local juvenile justice systems in the ways spelled out in your report. That ended by the late 1950s, as James Turman took over the agency and it moved toward a punishment culture.

In fact, if we look at Texas juvenile justice in the long view, which would date back to the 1880s, punishment has been the norm, with 2 brief interruptions in which rehab has been more ascendant: 1949 to about 1955, and 1971 to about the mid-1990s.

And we should note that when we discuss "punishment culture" we aren't just talking about TYC but the larger society that often shares an attitude of retribution and elects officials who enact it. The same larger society of taxpayers who don't want to pay for good schools or social services that might keep a lot of these kids out of trouble to begin with.

I've said this before, but it's also worth noting that almost all of the "best practices" outlined in your paper, and in the Blue Ribbon report, have been known to experts for several decades. Some of them were articulated as early as 1949! And yet we can't seem to act on these ideas.

BTW, I should add one thing to your early discussion about TDCJ moving in. Those past proposals to have TDC/TDCJ take over TYC were initiated by legislators, not by prison officials themselves, who often weren't eager to take on juvenile facilities. My sense is that prison officials at the time realized that juveniles were distinct populations with different needs and should be kept apart from the prison system.

In the 1960s, TDC director George Beto repudiated the idea when it was put before him by then Speaker of the House Ben Barnes, who had pushed for the change for years. Later, Beto did go on to serve as a member of the TYC Board, but this didn't represent a takeover.

I realize all this sounds like quibbling but it would be interesting to know who initiated the idea of putting so many TDCJ people in charge of TYC, wouldn't it? My guess is this began with Gov Perry putting Owens in as conservator, who in turn appointed Pope.

If prison officials like Beto could recognize 40 years ago that juveniles should not be under the supervision of, well, prison officials, it makes the current set-up seem that much more backward. Maybe some state officials just want to abolish juvenile justice altogether. The idea has been bandied about for over a decade in legal and professional circles.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Bill - ever considered moving to Texas? I don't blame you if you're response is "not no, but He&& no" but we sure could use you:) Thanks for all your great input here and your level head during this time of great despair for many of us:)

Anonymous said...


Thanks. I'm actually a UT-Austin graduate, lived there from 1997-2005.

There is a chance I could be moving back next summer, depending on which way the wind blows...

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope it blows our way. I have learned so much more about juvenile justice practices -in Texas and throughout the US -from reading your posts. I'm not embarrassed to say that because I believe if we are all more open to learning, only then will we all be able to grow.

I hope TYC can be saved. I think it can but we've got to have a plan and the right people in place to pull it off - I don't believe TYC staff have faith in those people holding those positions today. Thank you for your encouragement, kind words and advice. Keep on teaching - we are eager to learn!

Anonymous said...

I was at the JJAT Conference and enjoyed your presentation. I noticed you stayed over for the rest of the Conference. I hope you learned about the differences between TYC and the local juvenile justice systems. Please go down to the Hays County facility to see what a "private/public" facility can do. Well run, with programs that help juveniles. I think a new TYC would work. Thanks for staying on top of this TYC debacle.

Anonymous said...

Any type of organization will reflect the values of those individuals placed in charge of it's operation.

Anonymous said...


Enlist the attitude from the DA's office in Williamson County for TYC. John Bradley and his bunch can handle the TYC mess. Those DA's can railroad, any youth or any citizen into the CJ system through prosecutorial misconduct with wrongful convictions based on false arrests or allegations. Now those guys know how to handle cover-ups, corruption and misconduct. I think JB is a friend of Perry Too.

Anonymous said...

Excellent research piece, Scott! What a great contribution to the ongoing jj reform debate. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

OMG, what about this scenario!!! A trial has been re-set 4 times for a misdemeanor offense and the first 3 times TYC never even showed up. Now when TYC decides to bring their candy a** to court, now they want to file a motion for a re-set so they can review all the evidence and not only that but wants to bring in their own prosecution team from Palestine, TX. I have never in my life known for so much wasteful spending of tax payers dollars in Jefferson County, TX. I see why our economy is in the shape it is in. This was a misdemeanor offense, not a felony, and we have now re-set this trial for the 4th time. Also TYC is scared of the defense due to the credible evidence against them, so now they have hired their own prosecution team.

Anonymous said...

How can an inmate have any type of creditability when they have over 163 incident reports, 111 security referrals, 47 security admissions, 1 assault on another student, has an IQ of 79, and has served over 16 months on a 6 month sentence? Yes as strange for it is to read this, it really is happening. The whole agency needs to be changed over to TDCJ and let the big boys handle up on these little punks. They want to do adult crimes, but then they want to cry for mamma when they get in trouble. This is the biggest crock of b.s. I have ever heard of in my life.

Anonymous said...

I worked 4 T.D.C.J. 4 9years and they dont reform grown men so how are they suppose 2 reform kids! My son is in T.Y.C. in Giddings Texas And I'm amazed at their program they have for the KIDS. If u haven't ever dealt with T.Y.C. OR T.D.C.J. u dont need to down grade T.Y.C.!T.D.C.J. lets them sit around all in the a.c and watch cable television. Atleast T.Y.C does make them get an education and teaches them 2 be responsiable for their actions . My son made a mistake in his life and is paying 4 his crime and only god can judge him! if you have kids nver down someone elses cause u never no where urs might end up at!!!!!

Anonymous said...

TYC has people in the higher offices that DO NOT have the education or the credability. Because you were a friend of Ms. Pope,and you wanted to be a Assistant Superintendant or even a Superintendant, you got the job, regardless if you had worked for the facility for 8 or 9 years and you disagreed with the higher people, you get moved to another dorm. That is the way it is in Mart,TX. There aere promises made to these youth about special privileges, but no one ever sees these promises come true. That is happening at Mart 11.
I know because my son is there.