Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Youth Commission Open Thread: What should the Legislature know about TYC and SB 103?

For those who missed Friday's hearing on monitoring of private youth prisons by the Texas Youth Commission (and who don't have 3.5 hours to watch the proceedings online), the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has summarized the main points from the speakers and legislators.

Tomorrow morning the House Corrections Committee will analyze a separate but equally important topic: the Youth Commission's implementation of SB 103, the reform legislation passed this spring.

There's definitely a lot to discuss. To TYC employees and anyone else interested in the agency, use the comments as an Open Thread to say:
What would you tell the Texas Legislature about SB 103 and its implementation?

What questions should legislators ask?
Here's the text of the bill as finally passed, to refresh your memory about what they'll be talking about.

Also, whaddya think? Will Ed Owens will show up to present his first, last, and only conservator's report? This hearing may be his swan song. Or in Owens' case, it's more like an ostrich opera.

UPDATE: This morning (10/17), I culled a "greatest hits" version of the questions and comments from this string and emailed them to members of the House Corrections Committee and key staff. Thanks, folks, for the good discussion!


Anonymous said...

The Legislature should learn that (1)you don't fix something by destroying it.

(2)You can't improve a juvenile justice system with adult prison officials.

And(3)that their own brand of idiocy is color blind.

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Hey Grits, here's a new one on graffiti:


Anonymous said...

The legislature should know that Pope is incompetent.
They should know that she never keeps her word.
They should know that criminals are still employed at McFadden Ranch.
They should know that child abuse, exploitation and neglect have been "covered-up" at McFadden and Pope has played a major part in this because litigation is involved.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, but as a Texas public school entity, isn't TYC required to have a Superintendent in place? How long has it been since Judy Benesante left? Is there someone in her place?

Anonymous said...

TYC is exempt from most laws governing public education. By policy and choice TYC abides by the laws governing public education. However, the Superintendent of Education is covered in TEC and TAC governing TYC.

Benesante left because she knew that Pope is an idiot, and she would be branded an idiot if she stayed.

If TYC has a Superintendent of Education, I would like to know who it is also -- Perhaps Carolyn Webb?????

Anonymous said...


The questions to ask are "Where is the detailed plan to implement SB 103 point by point?" "Why have no rules related to the review panels or the evaluation of youth on an individual basis for the determination of length of stay not been published?" " Where is the replacement for Resocialization?" "How are the youth getting sex offender treatment and what are the qualifications of the treatment providers?"

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

How does TYC youth population now compare to the population anticipated by SB103 and the associated funding for the agency? This information should provide sufficient detail to separate the population by gender age and mental health status.

How does TYC staffing now compare to the staffing anticipated by SB103? This information should provide sufficient detail to separate data for "administration", "education" and "guarding" duties.

Where is the information requested in August regarding the use of Pepper Spray?

How do complaints now compare to compaints a year ago, 5 years ago? This information should provide sufficient detail to evaluate all complaints (substiantiated, unconfirmed and un-investigated) at the unit level and based upon youth age, gender and overall population.

If this information is not available, what steps will be taken to make it available so the true effects of SB103 can be evaluated?

Anonymous said...

If I was a Ledge guy, I'd ask:

1) is Bronco Billy on Human Growth Hormones or old fashioned Dynabal?

2) Do any of those steroids cause a squaring effect on the body?

3) Who is Bronco Billy's "Patrick?"

Anonymous said...

How did staff inform the regional directors about Coke County, since regionalization for those administrators only took place 4 or 5 weeks ago?

Anonymous said...

Have the leaders come up with some kind of master plan to meet all the objectives of SB103?

Is there an outline, along with timelines benchmarks and timelines, to show the amount progress made?

Anonymous said...

What is the current population in TYC facilities compared to what is budgeted?

And if the TYC facilities are hundreds over budget, what is being done to support staff at these facilities who are overworked and incredibly unhappy?

Anonymous said...

just a question Gritts Can you ask them Why is the Oriention Unit in Mart being housded as a dump grouind for a all the major problems students mixing them up with the new kids causing more problems, kids that have been in the system for 3 to 5 years there on same campus as new students also BMP's with the new kids causing more problems for new kids coming to T.Y.C.

Anonymous said...

Grits, Can you ask them why TYC is not required to follow federal laws regarding employment? They seem to avoid those questions...One day they vindicate a whistleblower and then fire him two days later?? Where is the justice?? Where is the protection we were all promised by Jay Kimbrough for doing what he asked in bringing wrong doing to the surface? He threw us all under a bus!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that some jobs get a raise from B11 to B13 and they do not have to reapply for their jobs?

Why do others get a new title and the same job description and they have to re-apply for their jobs?

Why do they keep creating job titles for certain people instead of pink slipping them?

I am so tired of all the back stabbing going on from Central Office. When is it going to stop?

Why are the Parole Officers getting more responsibilities and they are still a B6 to B8?

Admin Secretaries are going for B11? Why

Why do we have jobs posted at B13 and all they need is a GED and some experience?

Answer these questions.

Anonymous said...

Ask how all those jobs they've created in Austin for the TDCJ regime and their cronies have helped the field or the implementation of the SB 103?

The agency is equiped with video conferencing ability, so why do they pull local administrators to Austin for meetings, leaving their facilities shorthanded? Has anyone looked at what was spent on travel last year alone?

Regional superintedents, business managers, human resources officers and maintenance supervisors, what a bright idea!! Now the regionals will need secretaries and offices and, and, and!! Money that could be used to give staff raises & improve youth services! Now the right hand is really not going to know what the left one is doing. It allows for more levels of coverup than ever before!

The only people that have benefited & are enjoying their fat wallets (certainly not the fruits of their labor) are the TDCJ cronies & those they've promoted!

"Lucy you have some splaining to do!"(no harm meant to any one or any race, just a funny.)


Anonymous said...

On what legal basis are 19 and 20 year olds being kept at TYC?

Anonymous said...

What documentation do they have that problems have decreased, by 98%?

How has the rate of OC spray changed since the recent lawsuit?

How have they communicated with the field to not use OC spray unless there is an imminent physical danger?

What documentation do they have as to the actual staff to student ratio?

Anonymous said...

Since the passing of SB103 how many of the staff that have been hired have completed the required 300hrs. of training? How many that have not completed the training are working directly with the youth without supervision?

Where is there a 12:1 ratio and what is being done to meet the compliance of the law?

Anonymous said...

FROM THE DUH! Department:

They should know that such major changes in juvenile justice law cannot be effectively implemented by people who have no juvenile justice experience and who don't care to hear from those who do (and have a pattern of firing those who kept letting them know what a person with juvenile justice experience would do).

They should know that facilities are more crowded than ever and staffing ratios are not what the current administration says they should be.

They should know TYC training staff are teaching a use of force continuum which places the use of pepper spray before physical restraint, clearly not consistent with policy.

They should know that they need to make changes to ensure the safety of those staff who are trying to help rehabilitate juvenile sex offenders.

They should know that Ms. Pope only has the most difficult job among state agency directors because she has made it that way.

They should know that dedicated, loyal staff, are praying they will use common sense, heed the advice of the blue ribbon panel, put into place effective juvenile justice professionals to oversee the development of treatment programs, use of force policies, and everything else that is being run into the ground by the current administration.

You don't know how good what you had was till it is gone. The legislators should know that there efforts to divert attention away from their knowledge of WTSS events, pattern of underfunding TYC, and association with contract facilities, will have major social consequences for decades to come.

They should know that rehabilitiation is cheaper in the long run and that TDCJ administrators don't believe in rehabilitation.

They should know that the juvenile justice issue is one that will not go away and will be a central feature of elections.

They should know that voters will not forget their making statements of unbridled support for reforms to TYC and then cutting their budget, not funding important pilot projects, and paving the way for gutting an agency.

Maybe the special master was not such a bad idea after all...

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

The purpose is to improve TYC because it is a mess!

People that can effect change at TYC need information. They need to face up to the truth.

Anonymous said...

i would love to spend more time talking with parents about how to help their kids. unfortunately the state of the agency is such that most parents aren't interestedin hearing ust talk. they don't think we know what the hell we are talking about and believe we are likely abusing their children.

Administrations and policies are important. most people who you think make so much money could make significantly more in the private sector (that is part of the overall tyc problem, policy states that staff compensation will lag that of the public sector). so don't get mad at them for caring about the administrations and policies that frame the agency they have devoted their lives to.

Anonymous said...

...and expressing their frustration that political appointments of people with serious questions in their background, without juvenile justice experience, who are arrogant and feel they can simply change policies to those which resemble what they are familiar with in the ADULT PRISON system.

Hopefully the legislators will focus on influencing the governor to appoint a conservator who knows something about juvenile justice and reform and that is willing to have their decisions scrutinized.

Anonymous said...

Legislators should be very concerned that the Governor has made two appointments to Conservator who aren't really interested in doing the job. They should be very concerned that Dimitria Pope has basically been in charge of the agency since she was APPOINTED to her position and does not have the qualifications to do so.

Anonymous said...

I have a question in regards to the Wal-mart vests we have been made to wear these past 4 months on campus. I was told today that the new dress code for staff will require staff to wear state issued polo's and they are color coded into three colors designating a department. Not problem with this based upon the fact they want to identify staff on video when they look at a situation or have an investigation. But, when your camera's are black and white and the youth wear polo's as well how and the heck does this make sense?

The problem I do have is we will also be required to wear black slacks which will not be paid by the State. How can they define our dress code and not be responsible for purchasing it? Has Ms. Pope found her true calling (fashion) and is her degree in fashion design, because we surely know it is not Juvenile Justice!

Anonymous said...

A number of us, who happen to be annonymous posters are former insiders who left because we were sick of the Austin heirarchy (interesting word since it literally means rule of the priests) recreating Juvenile Justice in the image of adult justice.

The people selected to operate TYC have been incompetents, unreliable and themselves marginal criminal elements.

Gov. Goodhair is a political opportunist, as is the Texas legislature. It is time to get rid of the entire cowardly lot and take a serious look at redoing the entire state government.

Anonymous said...

I am a JCO at McFadden Ranch. I will tell all of you who read this blog and continue to tell us to call the hotline...you can take that "hotline" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine! It is a useless waste of taxpayers dollars in my opinion, you want to know why? BECAUSE TYC gets the calls!!!! You are NOT calling an outside agency...you are getting somebody who calls our superintendent, then she gets on the phone to find out how she can remove you from your position. Think I am lying? Lets look at the recent pattern at McFadden, report abuse...get fired or forced to resign. Yeah, it really works good. But we still do REPORT the abuse, alot of good that does, Our superintendent admitted to using kids as laborers at a staff members house ( exloitation) and pouring bleach on a poison ivy rash he got while being exploiated ( abuse) and not only is she not arrested, suspended...she is out there trying to cover up more abuse!!! You investigators had it right on the money about her manipulating the investigations to her favor when you suspended her months ago, you should have kept her gone. Now what happened to what Pope said about this investigation being completed by early October?? Its Oct. 17....this all occured in August! Whats up Pope? Afraid that removing her is going to cost the state more money when that kids parents sue?? Thats a given....cut your losses Pope! CLOSE MCFADDEN BEFORE A KID DIES! We have had Copperhead snakes INSIDE the facility, but lets not waste our precious money getting an exterminator when we can spend it in a more useful way, like paying for pizza for kids that work at employees houses! My GOD...can't anybody bring us justice??????

Anonymous said...

For those of us who were once YAS (youth activity supervisors) understand the purpose of not wearing a uniform. The, Ron Jacksons, Steve Robinson's, (even) Dwight Harris understood that we the Texas Youth Commission was not a penal institution and if youth saw staff as normal human beings and not as some strict correctional guard tis would go a long way towards rehabilitating the youth through association.

The current leadership wants uniforms, and next year we will get blackjacks and batons, so we can deal with these soon to be TDCJ populations.

Anonymous said...

I posted this in August and still think the questions should be focused on the implmentation of SB 103. This was taken directly from our legislators’ summary of SB 103 found on the state capitol website. Has the agency accomplished any of this and what is their proof---changed policies, implementation schedule, training modules, bench marks, etc......

 The bill restricts a juvenile court from committing a youth to TYC for a misdemeanor crime or for violation of misdemeanor probation and requires a youth committed to TYC before June 8, 2007, based on a misdemeanor offense, to be discharged from TYC by the youth's 19th birthday.
 Senate Bill 103 prohibits TYC from housing, except for short-term assessment and orientation, a youth younger than 15 years of age in the same dormitory as a person who is 17 years of age or older unless TYC determines the placement is necessary for the safety of the youth.
 TYC is required to consider the proximity of the residence of a youth's family in determining in which TYC facility to place the youth.
 The bill requires TYC to establish a minimum length of stay for each youth who is committed without a determinate sentence.
 TYC is required to perform certain medical, treatment history, psychological, and psychiatric examinations on youths as soon as possible after commitment and to perform certain reexaminations to determine if the rehabilitation plan should be modified or continued.
 Senate Bill 103 also sets out a parent's bill of rights and requires TYC to assign a caseworker to each committed youth to perform enumerated duties relating to the offender and the offender's family.
 Senate Bill 103 requires TYC to develop a reentry and reintegration plan for each youth in custody to ensure continuity of care from entry to final discharge.
 The bill also requires TYC to establish a panel to determine whether a youth who has served the minimum length of stay should be discharged, released under supervision, or have the stay in TYC custody extended, and sets out provisions relating to panel membership, procedures, and certain statistical reports.
 The bill requires TYC to establish a process by which certain persons may request reconsideration of an extension of stay order issued by the panel.
 Senate Bill 103 lowers the age at which a youth must be either released or transferred for confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from 21 years of age to 19 years of age. The bill requires TYC to evaluate a youth serving a determinate sentence who has not been transferred to TDCJ before the youth's 18th birthday to determine if the youth is in need of additional services that could be completed within a six-month period after the youth's 18th birthday to prepare the youth for release or transfer. (so why are there still 19 year olds and older youth in TYC?)
 The bill stipulates that a determinate sentenced offender must receive credit for time served in detention before commitment to TYC and credit for time served in TYC before transfer to TDCJ.
 Senate Bill 103 modifies the management structure of TYC to replace the governing board with an executive commissioner, who is appointed by the governor subject to senate confirmation and advised by a newly formed nine-member advisory board, whose members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house. This structure is in effect until September 1, 2009, after which time TYC will be governed by a seven-member board, whose members are appointed by the governor subject to senate confirmation. Rights, duties, and qualifications of the temporary executive commissioner and advisory board, as well as the governing board, are set out in the bill. (And who is our executive commissioner and where is the advisory panel, isn’t this the governor’s responsibility to appoint them?)
 Senate Bill 103 establishes the office of inspector general in TYC to investigate crimes committed by TYC employees, including parole officers employed by or under contract with TYC, and crimes committed in TYC facilities, including contract facilities. The bill authorizes the executive commissioner to select a chief inspector general, who may only be discharged for cause, and sets out the duties of the chief inspector general.
 Senate Bill 103 expands the audit authority of the state auditor to include the entire commission, rather than only the financial transactions, and authorizes the state auditor to provide assistance to and work with the office of the inspector general as appropriate. Additionally, TYC is required to regularly conduct internal audits of its correctional facilities and the provision of medical services and to make certain reports to the Joint Select Committee on the Operation and Management of TYC.
 A permanent toll-free number must be established by TYC for the purpose of receiving any information concerning the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children in custody and a chaplain must be employed or formally designated for certain facilities.
 Senate Bill 103 institutes an independent special prosecution unit that cooperates with and supports prosecuting attorneys in prosecuting offenses committed on TYC or TDCJ property or by or against a person in custody of TYC or TDCJ while the person is performing a duty away from the agency's property. The bill provides that the county be reimbursed by the state for certain prosecutorial expenses in such cases and authorizes the office of the attorney general to offer assistance in the prosecution of criminal offenses concerning TYC. The bill sets out provisions designating cooperation between a local prosecutor, a grand jury, the special prosecution unit, the office of the inspector general, and the executive commissioner relating to certain allegations, including the alleged physical or sexual abuse of a youth in TYC custody or an investigation related to the alleged abuse. The executive commissioner is required to immediately file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency if the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that a youth in custody is the victim of a crime committed at a TYC facility.
 Senate Bill 103 sets out training and assignment standards for juvenile correctional officers and requires TYC to maintain a ratio of not less than one officer performing direct supervisory duties for every 12 youths.
 The bill also requires the executive commissioner to do criminal background checks on each TYC volunteer, employee, or direct delivery service provider, and on any person who has access to TYC records.
 The bill provides that TYC employees are at-will employees and requires the commission to establish certain employee grievance and disciplinary action procedures.
 TYC is required to adopt a zero-tolerance policy concerning the detection, prevention, and punishment of sexual abuse, including consensual sexual contact, of juveniles in TYC custody and to establish a procedure for a youth in custody and a TYC employee to report such incidents. Senate Bill 103 also enhances the punishment for the offense of improper sexual activity with a person in custody to a second degree felony if the offense is committed against a juvenile offender.
 The bill also requires TYC to allow certain advocacy and support groups to provide on-site services to youths committed to TYC.
 Senate Bill 103 sets out provisions relating to the operation, inspection, and registration of pre-adjudication and post-adjudication secure detention facilities.
 Senate Bill 103 creates the Office of Independent Ombudsman of TYC as a state agency to investigate, evaluate, and secure the rights of youths committed to TYC, including youths released under supervision before final discharge, and provides that the independent ombudsman is appointed by the governor subject to senate approval.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see an org chart.

Anonymous said...

CO is to busy spending our tax dollars moving staff around to be concerned about the big picture. Right now payroll will be moving to the annex, also moving is HR.

If they had any guts they would boot both Pope and Robin out of this agency. They both suck.

As long as they remain there this agency is doomed.

Anonymous said...

When d'Pope and CO. self-destruct, they will all go!