Friday, June 06, 2008

TYC ending practice of long-term isolation as "aggression management"

The Texas Youth Commission will end its "aggression management" program in which violent youth were kept in individual cells for months on end, a welcome move away from the use of adult corrections techniques imposed by the agency's last conservator.

TYC eliminated the program because extensive use of isolation did not reflect national best practices, said spokesman Jim Hurley, and also to alleviate staffing shortages at the Mart 1 unit. According to the Waco Tribune Herald ("TYC violent youth program scrapped," June 6), "The program was housed at one of the two TYC units in Mart, with youths being sent there from juvenile prisons all over the state, Hurley said. It had the capacity for 24 youths and required 40 staff members." Reported the Tribune Herald:

As TYC has continued to examine its practices in light of an abuse scandal that rocked the agency last year, it has the agency last year, it has determined the program does not reflect national best practices in dealing with youth offenders, Hurley said. So the state decided to discontinue it.

To fill the gap, TYC is revamping its “behavior management program, which is conducted at all TYC facilities, Hurley said. It will be called Redirect and will revolve around a specialized treatment curriculum designed to manage aggressive youths.

The revamped program will focus on getting inmates to recognize what triggers their violent behavior so they can stop it, Hurley said. He added that it will operate on a privilege system, rather than a punitive one.

Each facility will continue to have so-called security cells where violent youths can be isolated if necessary, Hurley said. However, the cells will be used only for short periods of time.

“It won’t be sticking a kid in there for months on end,” he said.

The 40 staff members who worked for the discontinued program will be transferred to other areas of Unit I at Mart, Hurley said. Since the facility has a shortage of juvenile corrections officers, the shift should ease understaffing there, he said.


Anonymous said...

Translation: The program is staff intensive; therefore we are terminating it. This will also allow us to disable another program , study a replacement for the program, and provide another excuse for why nothing is being implemented.

The agency will "tweak" a program and this will cause the youth to discover what triggers his anger. Thank God TYC officials have discovered something! Give us a break!

Mr Conservator: Please do what must be done. Close some of the units and consolidate your staff. You are about to have a major incident due to your vacillation and erosion of control. Security measures should be INCREASED not decreased.

Retired 2004

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Retired, your translation assumes juvie and adult corrections are the same animal. I disagree with your assessment that this news means security measures are being "decreased." It's not just BS that isolation violates best practices regarding what works in juvie corrections, it's actually true.

Your dismissal of programs that aim to get to the source of youth misbehavior IMO isn't too helpful to the discussion. There's no reason the BMP program (which also involves keeping youth in isolation cells) can't be "secure," but there's also no reason youth isolation shouldn't include services and programming. This isn't ad seg at TDCJ, and anyway that system has plenty of problems, too.

Anonymous said...

The Aggression Management Program (AMP) was designed to provide treatment for the aggressive behavior and allow the youth to gain privileges as they completed each phase. It was never designed as a solitary confinement program. When Mart was taken over by Walters, Berry, & Co. after the closure of Hamilton, it then moved away from treatment and more to a punitive approach, and the protests from the PA and staff fell on deaf ears. Too bad that a program that was once innovative and groundbreaking that helped alot of youth successfully get out of TYC and learn to deal with their anger is being scrapped because of the lack of Administrative oversight. AMP staff throughout the years were some of the best, brightest, and dedicated staff in the Agency, the job you all did will not be forgotten. Best of luck to each of you.

Anonymous said...

What programs Scott? You missed my point; The programs in TYC continue to erode, some to the point of extinction.

Isolation is NOT a best practice when speaking of an individual's treatment. Isolating the "trouble makers" to a special program does work!

My dismissal of what programs? Name one program that has been initiated since the Conservator ship has been established. I am not asking for all the programs that are being studied, rather those programs that are functioning (adequate, qualified staff and adequate facilties).

BTW, you cannot teach without having some form of discipline in place. In corrections (juvenile and adult) discipline and security are synonymous.

I do not understand your reference to Ad Seg at TDCJ.

Retired 2004

diogenes said...

I'll echo what Retired is saying. We have not received any new programs yet. We're losing the sticks and we aren't getting the carrots that are supposed to replace the sticks. That leaves us with our hands tied because we don't have any replacement programs for the ones that closed down. AMP was yanked out from under us and the most violent youth in the system dumped back into general population with nothing more than a lick and a prayer that they wouldn't seriously hurt anyone else. If the treatment aspect of AMP has been degraded, then we at least had the protective factor so that the youths who do want to work whatever program we happen to have at the moment can do so and go home without having to get screws and plates and stitches. Not every youth in TYC is a poor little boy or girl. Some are already hardened criminals that just aren't quite old enough for TDCJ. The fact that some people don't want to accept is that there are some youths that just aren't going to change, but we still have to do something to stop them from harming others.

The 3 factors that make laws/rules/etc work are Certainty, Celerity, and Severity. We are quickly reaching a point (if we haven't blown past it already) where we have none of the above. We're being told not to do any hearings unless someone gets seriously injured, and even then we're advised away from it. The scuttlebutt is that the new version of the BMP will be 6 weeks maximum, and can be as short as 7 days. Unless we rush the hearing process and psych review for the BMP, it'll take longer to put a youth on BMP that he'll actually be there. The youths are finding out that most likely they won't get any consequences for the harmful behaviors, and if they do, it'll probably be very little. So far I don't see how an intensive week or so is suddenly going to get a youth to undo years worth of negative conditioning and habits.

The main problem with the programs we have (or recently had) was that we didn't have enough people to run them properly. Trimming or eliminating these programs won't make them suddenly work better.

We had our chance to fix TYC, but we blew it when we had the witch hunts in the Legislature and the TDCJ take over. Our current Conservator is trying to repair the damage and move forward at the same time, but he is hampered by the legislature that is still trying to get things for cheap while scoring political points whenever they can.

Until the Legislature figures out that "you get what you pay for", we can't have the quality programs that "national best practices" call for. I want TYC to be an organization I can be proud to say I worked there. I want it to be the best in the nation. But we're not getting there the way things are now. The Legislature and other politicians need to stop playing games long enough to let the experts get the new programs planned (including a plan for transitioning to the new program instead of jerks and stops), and pony up the money required to implement and maintain these programs.

Anonymous said...

Google this Texas Observer article:

Overlooked Heroes
Three staffers led effort to overhaul the Texas Youth Commission
by Nate Blakeslee | June 15, 2007

Also, google this earlier Texas Observer article by Nate Blakeslee:
Hidden in Plain Sight

Anonymous said...

In the "Overlooked Heroes" article, Alison Brock said "the key is getting good superintendents in the facilities, and that the agency should be doing national searches now to find them. What you need is a person in the facility with integrity."

The superintendents can't do much good if all the other top people at the facility support the old discredited way of doing things.

Anonymous said...

TYC has the answer, put the super violent youth with the youth trying to get home. A kid had to be a very dangerous youth to be placed in the AMP Unit. One more step toward the destruction of TYC. TYC is dead and doesn't know it yet! It will fall over eventually.

Oh by the way how many people have gone to trial on the sex charges or for covering up the TYC mess? I think it is zero. TYC is nothing but BS and so are the lying politicians running the mess.

Anonymous said...

What the people in Austin do not realize (sitting in their leather high chairs) is that the truth is this: Staff are now at a disadvantage due to all the "changes". These violent youth will only grow worse in general population and recruit the youth that are already vulnerable to peer influence. Incident rates will only increase and become more severe. Administrators are afraid to issue real consequences because they do not want the spotlight on their facility. In turn the staff frrl/think they need to walk on eggshells among the youth. People making these very important decisions only see the "good" on paper - work a dorm, participate in a few riots, get assaulted by a youth and watch him be released on the same day the incident occured - that hurts and kils morale. When is the last tme these folks did a surprise audit of a facility?reviewed group paperwork? Sat in on a core group? Behavior group? We are missing the real key to the behavior issue: EMPOWER YOUR STAFF - not the PA's and JCO VI's but the JCO's I - V that do the bulk of the work!!!

Anonymous said...

Allison Brock is full of it. She's just another freakin liberal that has no clue how to run a juvenile corrections program, but thinks she knows it all. She wouldn't last an 8 hour shift in a TYC facilty. It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback when your sitting on your butt inside the safe walls of a Representatives Office. Most of what Allison reported, especially about Crockett was lies based on reports from low phase youth. She bit hook, line, and sinker. What a sucker...

Anonymous said...

I have heard that at least two youth have died recently as a result of medical neglect by UTMB and the deaths were not being investigated by the Inspector General under some policy change that UTMB's negligence is not subject to IG investigations. Also that TYC has instituted a policy of discharging from TYC youth with serious injury or illness rather than to pay for the medical care treatment. I have even heard reports of youth being taken from a TYC facility to a hospital and being medically discharged on the spot. Can anyone verify these reports?

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Program...what program? There is no program in TYC any longer and there's no likely to be one for some time. Here it is, 18 months after the Whitmire Inquisition began and we're no closer to solving TYC's problems now than we were then. Treatment is supposed to be the focal point of the TYC program and it does not exist. The Transitional Treatment Program is an impotent version of Resocialization that has done nothing to help the youth. All these changes are a waste of time without having the "real" program in place. Everything we do has to be an offshoot of the program. Seems as though we've thrown together a hodge podge of disjointed parts from the so-called "national best practices" and will try to find and implement a program that fits them later on. Is it just me or is that bass ackwards? The program should drive everything we do, from rehab, to privileges, to behavior management, to community reintegration. What we have now is none of the aforementioned. And as difficult a pill as it may be for you smart guys in Central Office (and on this blog)to swallow, there will be no treatment without control. It is starting to show in decline of the youth using appropriate social skills, their total disregard for staff authority, the number of youth we release every week who are not ready, who are recommitting within a couple of months (or sooner), the number of youth running from halfway houses (I heard that a kid escaped from a halfway house while the police were there taking a report on one who had escaped earlier.), and the beat goes on. And look at that little Cinco de Mayo fiasco at Giddings. A minor disturbance? Over 70 kids moved, a good number of whom were not moved for participating in the festivites, but because of the damage done to the dorms. The kids know that we are operating in a state of total disorganization and are taking advantage of it and us on a daily basis. And all the while you sit up in your ivory tower and play your fiddle while Rome is burning. How long are we going to just talk about our nationally recognized credentials and best practices and patting ourselves on the back for doing nothing to help these kids? We have a kinder, more communicative group up in Austin, and that is appreciated. But now it's time to start fixing the problems instead of just talking about them. Retired 2004 and Diogenes are on target with their comments. Listen...there's a storm coming.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to believe an important tool like the AMP is going away. Maybe it wasn't much for treatment, but at least students across the state were protected from the most dangerous.

I read the "heroes" article from the Observer. Those staffers should have been embarassed to stand there and be called "heroes" for just doing their jobs. And if they spent time actually working in a TYC facility, they'd be embarassed by their simplistic observations. They can't possibly understand what it's like to work day in and day out with violent offenders who are bigger and stronger and have little to lose.
If they are "heroes," then are TYC staff the "villains?" It's a little infuriating. How will TYC staff explain this to parents whose kids are assaulted by these AMP-appropriate students?
TYC should not be allowed to take another tool away before they provide a new one for the staff to use.

whitsfoe said...

Now we need the SPU and OIG to step up and arrest/charge/and convict the violent ones, despite their age, when they hurt our staff our when they hurt each other. I don't like having to say that, but the reality is that if our culture is going to change, we need someone to step up because TYC doesn't appear to be a disciplinary agency any longer. We have no means to deliver consequences to major rule violations.

I'm not saying send them to TDCJ, but I am saying some should be sent there and the ones who are too young should be given a determinate sentence.

However, after looking at the OIG/SPU activity on the agency website, either they need to get a little more aggressive or we need to do a lot more reporting. I really think our institutional staff need training on how to preserve evidence. For example, did any of you know that once a kid throws urine on you, you need to bag those clothes? I never knew this either, but apparently it's true.

Bottom line is, we need to get the OIG involved and they need to train us on what it's going to take to hold these kids accountable in their arena, because TYC staff simply have no more disciplinary tools. That's not necessarily a bad thing if someone else is taking on the load. This OIG/SPU is new to us so we've got to learn how to utilize them when necessary, and what they need from us to make it happen. But the fact is, we simply have lost any deterrents to unlawful and serious/violent behavior, and we need their help now. Not later. Now.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Ombudsman's office for thier sustained fight to end the barbaric, abusive practice of using long term seclusion of youth as a routine practice to deal with problem youth. (see earlier Grits on the topic).

We salute the new TYC leadership's effort to bring the agency into modern times and enforce legal standards of care and implement modern best practices.

Anonymous said...

Kudos? You're "saluting" while assautive teenagers are loosed upon others? You sound ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Barbaric? Keeping other kids safe from a very dangerous and violent felon by confining him a secured cell to prevent him from hurting the kids who are engaged in their rehabilitation is "barbaric?" You know, what do you think the victims of their "barbaric" crimes would say to your assertion?

Your in Texas - ACLU. We never listened to you before, so what makes you think we're going to now?

Anonymous said...

7:57, assuming you are not joking, here's a question: While the Ombudsman is receiving kudos and the central office is being saluted, what alternatives have they presented to staff who now have no way to separate the most violent from the less violent? Don't you have compassion for the other youth who must live with the volatile youth, waiting for the next eruption? That is terrifying. I only know what I read in the newspaper, so please tell me. Advocacy groups have lots of criticism, but no answers.

Anonymous said...

Amen 8:28.....Amen.

Let's have an open-house and let 'em share their love while we get a day off...

Anonymous said...

7:34 p.m. is correct. Bag the clothes immediately but use a large, clean, brown paper bag (like grocery stores used to use), staple it shut, and clearly label it with the date and TYC number of the youth involved. Also, preserve any container that has been used to collect such bodily fluids and insist that someone capture the videotape for evidence. Write a really good 225 and then place all of this evidence into the arms of the first police office whose attention you can get.

Anonymous said...

That's the training we need. Now if we can include how to defer the "hug a thug," mentality to the local ACLU, that'd be groovy.

Anonymous said...

all the senseless banter aside. I think there is some confusion. The Aggression Management Program and Behavior Management Program are two different things. Both were clearly defined programs prior to the previous conservator. Neither programs, as described by policy resemble anything similar to adult prison segregation.

Bronco Billy did some crazy things locking kids, from all over the state, up in Mart II's single cells, and calling it a "behavior management plan." These decisions were not consistent with TYC policy and this resulted in the abuse of kids, not enough staff to implement programming, and kids being locked up for weeks at a time. This is what prompted the ombudsman's crusade against "segregation."

The Aggression Management Program was and is now again a much needed program for highly aggressive youth. The program was designed to keep people safe and teach the kids how to control their behavior by immediately rewarding them for positive behavior and giving consequences, just as quickly, for negative behavior. They had daily interaction with educators, psychologists, and caseworkers. This program did meet and was the national standard for working with extremely violent youth. This is what TYC had, but something went terribly wrong under the brilliant leadership of the pope and bronco who filled up the highly selective AMP unit with regular behavior management problem youth.

It is actually quite sad to close this program and in the same sentence talk about how moving these staff will help with staffing shortages at the Mart facilities. Whoever decided to build two facilities of that size, right next to each other, outside Waco was (is) an idiot. Oh, that must mean some of our current legislators/ governor who are trying to "reform" TYC.

You know, again and again the larger problems in TYC keep coming back to poor decisions by legislators/governors over the past 12 years. Mr. Hurley should resign. His tongue is like that of Wormwood.

Anonymous said...

Once again, TYC staff are stupid and backward, according to Hurley. We now know that keeping assaultive people away from general population isn't "best practice." There is some magic the staff should be doing that will keep an assaultive youth with anger-management problems from hurting another person...if only we could put a finger on it.

His description of "Redirect" sounds like the old familiar offense cycle to me. The difference is that the youth will be able to victimize staff and other youth while this new treatment program is going on. I don't get it. What a supervision nightmare for JCO and casework staff.

I imagine these youth know what causes their behavior, and they don't have any interest in stopping it. The scary part is, they will be mixed in the general population while they find that out. Sounds a little crazy. Maybe the Trib article left something out -- there has to be more.

Anonymous said...

Adults are taken out of general population when they victimize someone in prison. Why should we not do the same to the youth that are assaulting staff and other youth? Hell, let's just release every offender in the state of Texas and let them roam the same streets you live on. How would that make you feel. We see it every day when someone finds out there is a registered sex offender living in their neighborhood. They start signing petitions and alerting the media. Why? Because they feel unsafe. Hell would you feel safe knowing that your neighbor has a history of assault or sexual assault? How do you think the staff and youth from TYC feel now that these violent offenders are now back in general population? Most of the youth in TYC are trying to work the program and better themselves so they can avoid going to TDCJ. The youth that are placed on BMP or AMP have caused bodily harm to someone in some form or fashion. I bet if the Ombudsman or Hurley had their asses kicked by one of these youth they would be singing a different tune right now. Those of you who feel that the BMP and AMP programs are not needed in TYC should all quit your jobs and come apply for a job as a JCO staff. Then you can TRULY see that some of these youth are not JUST KIDS. You make me sick. You don't know what it's like to be a victim and have to look at the person who victimized you every day. Like I said earlier, let's just go ahead and release every prisoner in Texas since isolation is so barbaric and abusive. That should make everyone feel happy and safe.

Anonymous said...

I have worked both in a TDCJ seg unit and in tyc and most of the others are right. The "kids" learn really fast that they can cuss you and scream and yell and if you send them to security they will be back on the dorm in 15 minutes laughing because it took you longer to fill out the paper work than they spent in security.
I am told repeately to not write as many 225's and there are several days we get on shift and are told, security is full so you cant send anyone there today.
The kids figure this out pretty quick and know they can do anything but fight or assault staff and we can't do anything but write a 225.
I have started writing the stuff down in the shift log because 225's "disappear"
How do you control youth when they know you can't do anything to stop them?

Anonymous said...

There will always be a need and jutification for isolating violent youth to protect staff and youth. Some commenters here are over reacting to the changes being made by the Conservator. The difference will be that BMP (by another name) will no longer be isolation simply for the sake of isolation. BMP and AMP were being abused and eveyone knows it. Youth were being placed on in these programs because staff just didn't want to deal with them. It was not to protect youth from youth in all cases. When you place these youth on BMP to adress their agreesion--you need to adress it. That is not what was being done in the field.

Anonymous said...

10:47, at one time it was being addressed in the field both on BMP and AMP. The TDCJ folks effectively ended that and started treating the youth like inmates. The truth of the matter is that there is more abuse in TYC now than what there was in 2004.

Anonymous said...

Stalled investigation?
What happened to Ronnie Earl's investigation? Since he left has his office lost interest?

Mike Ward Austin American Statesman March 03, 2007

.....Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle announced a criminal investigation of his own. After an article in the American-Statesman, Earle said he would look into allegations that an official report had been sanitized to protect top agency (TYC) officials. The employee who deleted information from the report had not been officially named as of Friday night.

.....By closing time Friday, Earle had served subpoenas at the Youth Commission for files and records...

TYC Trouble BY RICHARD WHITTAKER March 7, 2007

District Attorney Ronnie Earle subpoenaed TYC files after claims surfaced that the agency had censored its internal investigation of the West Texas State School. State auditors are investigating claims of gross financial mismanagement. Now, legislators are asking, if the DPS report on Pyote was filed in 2005, why hasn't the attorney general's office filed charges?

Latest news:
Last month the governors office reported that the investigation concerning the cover up is still pending (stalled?) with the Attorney General office.

We need to know if this investigation has been dropped. The media can make some calls and let us all know.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you have worked or with (maybe Billy Humphrey) but prior to this TDCJ mentality the BMP's were effective and not just for convenience.

Changing the name of the program is a play on words, whether it's called redirect or BMP, the issue we should focus on is the victim. This person or persons who was just assaulted by a youth should not have to see this youth back on the dorm in a day or two. Especially when you consider if this occurred outside the wall of TYC the perpetrator could be sent to jail for their act. Of course this escapes the majority of nay sayers who do not work with youth.
We need a way to show youth that there are repercussions for your actions not punishment. If we are not teaching this then the youth we let out today could e the same ones victimizing you or your loved ones tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

This has dragged on since 2005. The governor's office has never shown an interest in getting to the bottem of this case. Why not? What do they not want to know? Who can make sure the governor's office doesn't drop or stall this case?

Is anyone in the capitol concerned?

Anonymous said...

TYC did not give up enough information to authorities

Dearth of information could explain why so few sex abuse cases were prosecuted
By Mike Ward


Anonymous said...

I may be just an old country bumpkin but it looks like there have been a bunch sex perverts covering up for other sex perverts. I am including the governor for the simple reason if he is not a fellow sex pervert he should be outraged by the sexual predators using TYC kids for sex toys. My basic, uncomplicated view is that TYC was like hunting over a baited field for a select group of child molesters. All the drama and foolishness over the past 18 months is a good smoke screen to cover up the real problem, which are the sexual predators getting away clean so they don’t tell on the higher ups like Perry.

Everyone thought the current Conservator was going to fix it all. I knew it wasn’t going to happen because he was appointed by Perry. Just to be sure things went like he wanted Perry put Royal over at TYC to keep an eye on things. I posted on this blog about the current conservator being a Perry puppet and got blasted but it looks like I was right about him.

The bottom line is there are sexual child predators in high offices in Texas and they will not allow their “Fine young stallions” to be ripped away from them or be held accountable for their despicable behavior. If Perry and Kimbrough want to walk on the wild side together they are consenting adults but they and their buddies need to leave the children alone.

Nothing will ever be done to any of the child predators. The Marlin Superintendent will never go to trial for covering up sexual abuse of children and lying to a Texas Ranger. The 2 administrators from WTSS will not go to trial either. I am surprised they have not killed themselves, with a little help if you know what I mean. There is still a case manager working at Mart TYC who had sex with a minor child and has a kid to prove it that Parsee covered for by killing the investigation. A DNA test and a calendar could have solved that felony case if Parsee had not shut down the investigation. The youth right’s computer system should still have the info in it if it has not been cleaned up.

TYC will start down-sizing soon! School teachers have already been told they will have some deep cuts so that tells me the population of TYC is about to fall drastically! Because of the way the budget was set up TYC will be forced to cut back drastically. The reason there are only program terminations is that programs will not be needed in the near future for an agency that does not exist in its current form. If you work for TYC you need to start looking for alternate state employment now unless you can live on unemployment with no health insurance for you and your family.

Nothing ever changes, it just gets covered up and drug out long enough for people to forget and move on. One thing to keep in mind is that if walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it damn sure might be a duck!

Anonymous said...

3:17, you sound like a nut, so you might be a nut.

Anonymous said...

Some of what 3:17 is saying does make sense and are known facts.
1. None of the people indicted have gone to trial after 18 months
2. Why isn’t Perry outraged by the behavior exhibited by the wrong doers
3. The Conservator has done nothing of substance to right TYC
4. Numerous positions for teachers within TYC are being eliminated
5. Programs are being cut with no meaningful replacements
6. The statement regarding living on unemployment without health care is not crazy
Looks like 3:17 might have more insight to what is going to happen with TYC and the forces behind the scenes than you are will to give credit for 3:42. Time will tell who is right! I am also curious about the things Mr. Howard Hickman said about TYC discharging youth with serious health issues. Does this mean if a youth has a serious life threatening illness TYC dumps them on some hospital and drives off? Now this sounds like TYC has the best interest of the child in mind, not! Maybe 3:17 is right about money shortages at TYC and TYC cannot afford medical treatment for seriously ill youth. I can see the story in the Dallas Morning News now; TYC youth receives serious brain injury when assaulted a past violent AMP Unit inmate and TYC dumps the injured youth at the nearest hospital and leaves after stuffing a discharge slip in his pocket! Now how twisted would that be? If there are any nuts around I think they are running TYC.

Anonymous said...

3:17/7:39, now you sound like an ambulance-chasing nut. Wait -- I believe you may actually be driving the ambulance.

Anonymous said...

sounds like good old Mikulastic propaganda to me. Unfortunately half of what Mikulastic says actually makes sense, it is just the other half that doesn't allow you to see it.

TYC getting smaller is only a good thing, IF alternative strategies for dealing with these youth are implemented within counties.

Anonymous said...

"TYC is getting smaller"

42 positions due to be cut in CO
Teachers are being cutback
No money after July 10th
West Tx. & Vernon will be gone within 30 days.

Changes are happening, what did you expect?

Sit back and watch

Anonymous said...

This is off the subject but how are the new Deputy Commissioners doing so far?

Anonymous said...

mrThe AMP unit was a good program which is needed. The staff that worked that program were dedicated, and this may surprise some people, they actually cared about the youth who were housed on the AMP unit. The youth who were placed in that program could not be in general population because they are DANGEROUS! What people do not realize is that the youth placed in AMP were not placed there on a whim. There was a process and all available interventions had to tried BEFORE the youth was assigned to AMP. Once the youth was placed on AMP, the youth received counseling, education and earned privileges. The youth worked to earn their way off of AMP by advancing in their stages. After reading the posted blogs, I am amazed that some people would choose to write about a subject that they know nothing about. The youth were not just locked away and forgotten about!
TYC staff work hard every under some trying and stressful circumstances and the stress is becoming greater because the tools the staff had for discipline and for holding youth accountable are being taken away. Why would a staff want to continue to work at a place where they have to endure verbal abuse and possibly being physically assaulted everyday and the youth is not held accountable? I guess the staff will need to make sure that the behavior log is well written and everyone documents correctly, or that youth will continue to get privileges and promote in his stages!
I truly wish that a legislator (and those in Exec. Admin. from Central Office would come and work at a facility for 1 week and without an entourage of lackeys in 3 piece suits. They would have to wear black pants and one of those awful polo shirts like the everyday, hardworking staff do. Perhaps, they will be enlighened, and have a more accurate, realistic view of the youth who are in our facilities.
Has anyone else noticed that we have installed a revolving door at our facilities?? All those youth that were released (flushed) from our facilities in the last 12 months are returning. Or, if they are not coming back to us, their pictures are in the local newspaper because of a heinous crime they committed since being released from TYC.
Ahhh, maybe the staff did know what they were talking about when they said that the youth wasn't ready to be released!

Anonymous said...

The bandaid put on TYC is coming off and about to bleed the agency to death. The treatment program proposed to roll out soon did not work at the piloted facility, but it will roll out anyway.

The people in charge may know about juvenile justice but they do not know how TYC operates. It's scary to know that not one person remains in headquarters(Austin)that has an inkling of policy or procedure that could keep the suits & agency out of trouble.

There is no one left in Human Resources that knows TYC policy
at any agency level. They are afraid of the Wood placed in the fire!

Employees are trying to hold it together but the impolision looms to close for comfort. Ethics have gone by the wayside. TDCJ folks are writing policy on an as needed basis, their way or the highway.

One legislator does not even understand how a TYC kid can become a revokee. Sad, but true! Same senator that swept the TYC scandal under the rug cause he didn't have time to hear about it!
I agree that these legislative committees are to blame, guv inclusive.

Just pull the trigger and put the agency out of its misery!!! Nothing has changed and at this point, even the youth know that!

Anonymous said...

So you understand, The new treatment program had some kinks but are being worked out at the piloted facility prior to rolling out at other facilities. That was the whole point of piloting the program. It would be easier to work it out in one facility and get it right first instead of putting it in all facilities and having a big mess.

Anonymous said...

what time frame (implementation date) is involved?
Are qualified staff available? If not, what date will they be available?

Several people were attempting to put out a house fire with garden hoses, the only equipment available to them. The fire wasn't growing but it wasn't "lessening". Someone with some authority read about these people fighting the fire and wanted to help. He sent for an expert in fighting forest fires (not house fires). The expert immediately told the house fire fighters to cease what they were doing as it was inadequate and not a best practice. He sends out word for other people who he believes can help him in putting out the fire. He receives an update from people at the scene of the house fire, that the fire is growing. He tells the people to stand by; help is on the way. He has at hand people who know about best practices in fighting forest fires. These people are presently determining what type of aircraft, dozers and fire fighting crews are needed. When this has been determined, the equipment and crews have been purchased and hired, and everybody is properly trained, he will send help and extinguish the flames. After a long time he receives another call from the original folks who were working the problem and just needed a little extra help (You remember them; they had the garden hoses). They told him that the fire was out. The house had burned to the ground and as time passed the hot embers had turned to gray ash and the wind had blown the ashes away. Does this little story ring a bell?

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

TO 11:34

From what I can see, the 3 Deputy Commisioners are doing an outstanding job. But that was to be expected. Mr. Smith and Ms. Gadow are highly regarded in the field of juvenile justice. They had participated in succesful reform efforts in multible states. Nedekoff was very wise in selecting them and bringing them to Texas--which must have been a hard sell!!!

It's early yet--they've only officially been here for 2 or 3 month--so I know it is hard to see results. But before long, they will be praised.

Anonymous said...

It is sad when the people at CO and CO Annex say they will do away with favoritism but the same staff are picked to head committees, participate in focus groups, head up projects. These staff are said to be picked Because of their willingness to help, knowledge and expertise - the ones they pick for projects are out of touch dinosaurs! They sit in their
office 8 hours a day and heven't seen a dorm in years!! They are the ones that bad mouth administration the most yet reveive all these opportunites within TYC!

It is time for change!!

Anonymous said...

I got a call this afternoon asking for more information on what I had written on Grits for Breakfast. To my surprise some unnamed post was attributed to me. Sorry folks it was not me. I am much more direct when I write on GFB, which I have not done for a very long time. I would have named the person or persons talked about. It appears anytime Jerome Parsee is mentioned on GFB I get the blame or credit whichever way you take it. I am not the only one who does not care for Parsee; take a number and get in line. Let me be very straight forward GFB is not the way I operate to make things happen. Most of the people reading this blog have no power to make things happen and putting information here has little impact on TYC. My method of operation, when I was interested in TYC, dealt with members of the legislature, news media, and agency administration at the state and federal level. I contacted them directly and used my name when communicating with them to voice my concerns.
GFB is a good place to vent about TYC and it allows people at different TYC locations to know what is going on system wide. If GFB had any impact on the outcome of TYC it would have become the shining example of juvenile justice for the nation months ago. Scott’s blog does put things out in the open but it does not seem to make much of a difference in the end when it relates to TYC. I think the MSM and the public have grown tired, if not annoyed, with TYC in general and do not care what happens at TYC.
My legislative sources long ago told me TYC would be down sized drastically. The budget for TYC was setup by the past legislative session and it included a heavy reduction in staff and the number of inmates in the latter part of the budget period. Several units will be eventually closed as most are out of compliance with SB102. All of this information is a matter of public record and has been available for months. My personal opinion is that TYC has become such a mess it is beyond the point of becoming a functioning agency and will collapse on itself. If I am misinformed Mr. Neddlekoff should post a correction on GFB or send an email and give the TYC employees “the future plan for TYC” with target dates!
I continue my home remodeling project and am still involved in my hobbies. I had a new roof put on the house and a new air conditioner installed. The new patio deck should be underway as soon as I decide what to build it out of. I am undecided whether to use synthetic or pressure treated wood for the deck build. The new car is nice. I traded in the Xterra since it had so many miles due the long drive to Marlin for a new Mazda Tribute. I have bought 2 new bikes and I am back into biking again. I upgraded my ham radio station and enjoy talking to my radio friends daily. I recently got two of the new internet linked ham radios and can talk to people all over the world using a radio the size of a deck of cards. I also bought a new Canon 40D digital camera system and am having fun with it. I can print photos in 13X19 inch format now. Seems like I have to mow the lawn every 5 days but I enjoy the big yard. I did have one bad thing happen recently; the little blue sports car did get some minor hail damage last month but it should be like new in a few days. I tell you all of this to let you know I am not very interested in TYC anymore since I have plenty of toys and projects to fill my day. I have a great life and I am enjoying it without TYC being any part of it.

I wish most of you the best, a few of you can rot in hell,
Anthony Mikulastik

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anthony has cleared a lot of things up: A few of us had been wondering whether his name ends with a "C" or a "K."

Anonymous said...

I worked on AMP for years and can honestly say that I never once saw a youth mistreated or abused. A privilege system for AMP-appropriate youth who have a lifetime of hardened criminal activity and mindset? H-a-a-a-a! H-a-a-a-a-a!!!! Ho! Ho!! Hee!! Oh, somebody help me!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

They are just now releasing the closure of AMP? The AMP program was what some see as ideal and youth did improve with the treatment provided on AMP. The program required youth to earn their way out off AMP and provided immediate behavior modification (they assault someone or have an act of aggression they go to their room). The AMP youth were not the typical disruptive youth and the pain (punctured lungs, broken ribs, broken eye sockets, broken jaws, the list goes on and on) they caused others is undescribable is some cases. And besides that where else at TYC could a youth have a caseworker that only had 8 youth on their caseload and see a psychologist for counseling for a minimum of 30 minutes a week? Some people were all about getting rid of the AMP program, but one thing they missed was some of the youth housed on AMP didn't want to leave out of the fear that they would not get the treatment they needed. As for the "redirect program" it is exactly the same as BMP; it just has a new name and shorter time period.

txwordpounder said...

I've seen these ag seg cells and wondered what Texas was doing locking kids in solitary confinement for months on end. If a parent did that to their kid, they'd have CPS, DPS, helicopters and SWAT teams swooping down on them. The state has a license to kill, so why not a license to abuse children as well. The state is omnipotent and does what it wants.

This is a ruse. TYC will find some other form of torture to take the place of long-term isolation cells.

Anonymous said...

I escaped TYC last Spring, thank God, so I'm not caught up. But BMP and AMP were reserved for serious assaulters, etc. What about the victims now? TYC just says, screw them and deal with it.???? What a tragedy. I aplaud the staff trying to hold it together, but I'd start looking for other jobs.

Anonymous said...

The youth on AMP were not "thrown into cells" like ad seg in TDCJ. They were out of their cells for education, counseling, recreation and psychological services daily. The 1:8 ration of Case Manager to youth allowed for REAL counseling and behavior modification. The youth had no choice but to learn about thier unmet needs, triggers, emotional responses and fears while living in a controlled environment. The staff who worked with the AMP youth were dedicated individuals who wanted nothing more than for the youth to move on to success.

We still get calls from prior youth who are excited to tell us about the GED they earned, the new job they landed or any of the other accomplishments they never thought they would achieve prior to coming to AMP. Yes, this program was the "most restrictive in the state." However, by having 1 staff to every 4 youth and never having more than 4 youth out of their cells at a time (with 2 staff present), we were able to provide a therapeudic and healthy environment from which many youth were spared from an eventual life in TDCJ. (This is the youth's conclusion, not mine).

When TDCJ took over, AMP was irrevocably changed and it was probably a good thing that it was closed. With all of the hands in the pie, the "old" AMP as we knew it would never be the same. People who had never even visited the program were making decisions about the "terrible program" known as AMP without so much as meeting the staff assigned to deal with these youth. Had they taken the time to meet with the youth, they would have found that the youth who wanted to change actually wanted to be in the program! They understood the proverbial fork in the road that they were faced with and knew that without making some real changes, the only two choices were the penitentiary or death (once again, this is from a youth, not me).
So, I say all that to say this...THANKS to all of the staff who worked diligently to help the kids we were charged with handling and to the support staff who understood the plight we were faced. The youth REALLY DID appreciate the hard work and they take the time to call every so often to tell us! Thanks again and may God continue to lead you all to other youth who need our help! Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

where did Paul baca go? noone know nothing for sure now.

Anonymous said...

Well, Grits, by the looks of things, your reporting on the AMP was a little skewed. You can contribute it's failure to the TDCJ takeover, and the TYC suckups in Central Office that remain and continue to scewup TYC.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else here about how a youth was thrown thru a window at Mart 1 by staff, abuse is still going on at TYC, I also here that the new asst. supt. went down to Giddings when the kids were on the roof and gave them a cussing, what is going on at Mart 1

Anonymous said...

txwordpounder, I've read your blog several times, because I'm trying to ascertain the truth about FLDS. But I read your over-the-top comments at 12:41 a.m. about the AMP, and it seems that you have completely discounted most other commenters who have experience with the AMP, and have bought into an ACLU-like knee-jerk response that fits your overall world view. So let me suggest that your blog is not a good place to go for a balanced view.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on Anthony, you love it. And don't mislead us pretending that you have nothing to do with TYC. You are only now profiting from being critical of it.

Anonymous said...

I really am surprised that there is nothing out there concerning all these youth who have been released from TYC who have since committed terrible crimes. Would someone please investigate how the now adult registered sex offender who recently dropped an elderly lady down a well and left her for dead, was released from TYC. Someone please report on the political players behind his case and others like him. We need to hold these legislators accountable for their actions. it is amazing.

Anonymous said...

From the Texas Observer Podcast Title: TYC sex abuse scandal) March 2007
Nate Blakeslee - talking about the Texas Observer Story, "Hidden in Plain Sight"

...... The other thing that has happened is that the District Attorney out in Ward County has said that he is finally ready to start prosecuting. He's asking the attorney general in Austin to assist him with the case. They are making a lot of noises like there will be arrests soon but we have not seen one yet.

He was finally ready to start prosecuting in March of 2007? It's now June 2008.

Anonymous said...

To 6/10 @ 10:50 PM. Perhaps you should read SB 103. The young man was 19. He was not a sentenced offender. The wonderful law required his release. Whose responsible? Try the legislature.

Anonymous said...

While that is true, SB 103 lowered the age to 19 (which was a terrible thing for the more serious offenders -voa's and dso's), I am pretty sure that is not why Joshua was released because, according to the sex offender registry, his 19th birthday is tomorrow. But thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I like angels gold very much because it is very useful. In fact at first sight I have fallen in love with angels online gold. So no matter how much I have spent to buy angels gold, I never regret. Because of cheap angels online gold, I meet a lot of friends.

Dustin Scott Sulphur Springs,TX said...

I worked there 3 years,was given an "HONORABLE" Medical Discharge for Combat Stress PTSD ^ fucking months before they shut the doors it was an honor and a privilege to work with those kids..Best job I ever had in my life!!