Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunset's Plan to Abolish TYC

I probably won't have a chance to fully read their report until the weekend, but the papers this morning are full of news that Texas' Sunset Advisory Commission proposed merging the Texas Youth Commission and the Juvenile Probation Commission into a single juvenile justice agency.

See initial MSM coverage from the Austin Statesman, the Dallas News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and AP. Both juvenile probation chief Vicki Spriggs and new TYC executive commissioner Cherie Townsend opposed the idea, but Sen. Whitmire dismissed the plan's critics, saying, "Anyone who wants to protect the status quo is going to have a very difficult time justifying their position now."

To be fair, I'm not sure there IS a status quo at TYC right now. The place has been in constant flux, yanked first this way then that, for a year and a half with no end in sight. One can see why Vicki Spriggs might be hesitant to get drawn into the maelstrom! Certainly there's no argument to preserve the status quo, but one could could credibly argue to give the brand spanking new executive commissioner a little time to turn the ship around. I don't know that she can, but then I don't know if a merger would work, either.

I'm also not sure I completely buy the financial assessment in the report that the state can save $27.6 million per year by merging the agencies. That's because county probation departments, who will be tasked with managing these youth, will either have to fabricate services from whole cloth, which will include substantial startup costs, or pay for private placement that in many cases simply does not exist. However, the Sunset report declared that:
Combining TYC and TJPC’s functions into a single agency, the new Texas Juvenile Justice Department, should result in significant savings to the State. Most of these savings would realized by reducing administrative staff and closing facilities. Based on likely decisions of the new Department and the Legislature, Sunset staff estimates a minimum annual savings of $594,616 associated with a reduction of five duplicative director-level positions, and up to $27.6 million and a reduction of 587 full-time equivalents (FTEs) associated with a 10 percent reduction in TYC central offi ce staff and the closure of ... the Victory Field, West Texas, and Ron Jackson II institutions.
I don't understand why any cost savings from closing TYC units or reducing central office staff wouldn't be entirely eaten up by new costs of sending money to counties to pay for supervising the same kids? Costs don't go away just because TYC fires 587 workers, they just shift downstream to county probation departments. In fact, LBB recently projected the number of kids committed to TYC would increase over the next few years, so it makes little sense to assume that handling the kids through many counties instead of a single state carceral agency will provide much cost savings.

The cost savings statement in the report declares that new probation spending "would not have a direct fiscal impact to the State" (p. 29) but honestly I don't believe that's possible. To say the least, this is an underdeveloped part of the plan. You can already hear the Texas Association of Counties crying, "Unfunded Mandate," and if the state doesn't provide money for the kids county probation departments will have to place, they'll be right.

Though I've certainly got questions about the idea, I'm going to give myself a chance to read the full Sunset report, listen to what others have to say, and mull this over before passing judgment. As always, let me know what y'all think in the comments (and though I know this is scary and difficult, TYC employees, please try to be constructive).


Anonymous said...

Vicki: Move over Darling, help is on the way! Seriously, I hope you have been planning for this day. I believe a lot of the folks that read Scott's blog knew this day was coming.

When The adult criminal justice system came under the TDCJ umbrella the word was "The next session we are going to combine the Juvenile Justice System", and "The next thing we are going to do is put the whole Criminal Justice System under TDCJ". Several sessions later(drum roll please) and here we are!
I don't want to be negative about this so I will close with this positive comment: Vicki, It could have been worse, You could be working under Brad Livingston and his administration.

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

I welcome these findings and recommendations, and look forward to seeing how this will work under the newly created Department. I think that all employees in both departments should have to apply for jobs if they want to be a part of the new TJJD and the jobs should be open to the public. Maybe then, more juvenile justice professionals would be able to get hired instead of the good ole boys and girls.

Anonymous said...

The Sunset staff report has Whitmire's fingerprints all over it. Since his friend Dimitria got run off, he has been after TYC.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who gets on this blogs should read the report. As an outsider I read the reports and although I don't know or understand everything about both agencies most of what was recommended sounds like a good idea. Considering the Legislature has little real knowledge about either agencies I cannot imagine them going against the recommendations because they just make sense. Why shouldn't there be one agency that handles juvenile delinquents for the State. Besides the cost savings it would be the beginning of a true continuum of services for youth that has got to better then what you are doing now. This should not be about protecting anyone or maintainng the status quo it should be about what is best for the youth you serve, an idea that has gotten lost with all the other BS.

Anonymous said...

Grits, having just scanned the report thus far, the idea represents a return to the original vision for TYC when it was created in 1949.

An initial concern: If the two agencies are combined, there need to be safeguards to prevent the probation functions from being crowded out by institutions in the new agency's budget. This is what doomed community-based, probation, and parole functions for TYC in the 1950s and 60s.

It is especially a danger the next time we enter a period of panic over violent juvenile offenders.

It might also be useful to revisit the reasons why TJPC was created as a separate agency in the first place. Honestly, I haven't studied it very much, but my guess is that it was a response to concerns that TYC was unable to provide probation services, or that there was some sort of inherent conflict in a single agency serving both functions.

The real rub here, it seems to me, will be in what the proposed new agency's juvenile justice functions will look like. Will it adopt smaller, regional, more Missouri-style programs, or will it resemble more the current "status quo" to borrow from Sen Whitmire? If its the former, then this reorganization might make sense, but if its the latter, maybe not.

Bill B.

Anonymous said...

I haven't finished reading the entire report yet, but so far, it sounds like Whitmire's dream come true. Some of the ideas sound good on the surface, but the devil is in the details. Most of what I saw so far was blaming TYC for not changing or complying with SB103, while ignoring the amount of turnorver in leadership and the constant change in direction regarding the "reform". Then it launches into the same arguements that have been thrown against TYC for the past 2 years, ignoring all the responses.

The references to other state juvenile systems made me laugh. California just got out of one Federal mess and is heading for another. Missouri has low recidivism rates because they keep teh youths for years on end.

Maybe my impression will change when I finish the report, but so far it feels like they commission cherry-picked their facts to make Whitmire happy. Seeing Hinojosa's name on the report sure doesn't do anything to give this report any respectability in my eyes, either.

Anonymous said...

The juvenile justice system is comprised of 3 separate and distinct functions. Prevention, Probation, and Prison. Call them the 3 Ps if you will.

Prevention services are provided by the Department of Family and Protective Services. Funded by the state. Bet most people didn't know about this. Ever heard of the STAR programs. (NOTE : I know there are lots of other prevention services provided by non-profits, local governments, etc.)

Probation services are not provided by TJPC but rather local County Juvenile Boards that are established by statute in the Human Resource Code. Primarily financed by local county commissioners. 30% comes from state funding.

Prisons are financed solely by the state with the Texas Youth Commssion.

If it's just about saving money then by all means combine TYC, TJPC, and CPS for that matter.

When an agency's mission is specific then you will see better results.

This is not a good idea as the adult system knows. If this happens then when the state puts in any increases to the juvenile justice system it will go to the prison aspect. Just as the adult system has seen happen when the adult probation commission was disolved into TDCJ.

This may not happen initially but over the years local counties will be the ones that suffer financially. NOTE : County Government better oppose this idea.

The Texas Youth Commission was broken and instead of fixing it we'll just combine it with another agency that is doing well. Rather than saying TYC is broken I would venture that the majority of TYCs issues were related to management issues. Maybe some structure related issues but these are management decisions.

My recommendation would be this : Don't ignore the report from Sunset but put it on the shelf for now. Give Ms. Townsend the opportunity to fix TYC. No offense to the conservator's of the past but these were never long term gigs for them. Ms. Townsend came back to Texas to revamp TYC and stay. Not come back, work six months and go back to Vegas.

Give TYC a timeline and then have sunset review its progress and come back with their recommendation if need be. 2011 would be the year I would give.

Just some thoughts ..... HEADLINE --- Local Governments asked to bail out state because of TYC problems.

Anonymous said...

The Sunset staff report has Whitmire's fingerprints all over it. Since his friend Dimitria got run off, he has been after TYC.

11/13/2008 07:28:00 AM

Well, seeing as how about every ten years there's an abuse scandal that causes reforms at TYC, don't you think there's something to go after?

The suggestions in this report make a ton of sense. They need to fire about 50% of their staff at all levels though, and increase the pay and training for the rest and the new ones. Combined with the suggested changes that should do a great deal to improve the system.

Anonymous said...

Abolish TYC? They are FINALLY realizing that this agency can't be saved....its about damn time!It really is too bad that so many people had to suffer under the corrupt organization of TYC for so long!!! Whomever is responsible for this, has my vote for any office they run for! GREAT IDEA!

Anonymous said...

Since our state is run by Machiavellians, it would be good for them to read Machiavelli:
"In a new principality, however, there are difficulties. To begin with, if it is not entirely new, but and added member so to speak (the old and the new together being called a mixed principality), changes of authority come about from a natural hazard which exists in all new principalities: that is the willingness of men to change one lord for another to improve their lot." He goes on to say that this is self deception and experience shows that they actually make things worse. Five hundred years later people still make the same mistakes. Change and redistribution is what is being recommended (sounds familiar), but it's the taxpayers that get screwed in the end.

Anonymous said...

There will always be a TYC. Give it a new name, combine it with a couple agencies, it doesn't matter. We will still have juvenile prison populations and issues.

The real question is what are you (State) willing to mess with to fix the juvenile prison mess?? Guess we got an answer.

Anonymous said...

The difference between TYC and other state run juvenile facilities? Other states provide extensive training,great compensation and wages and wouldn't tolerate the ignorance in the current administration. I agree,50% or more should be removed and replaced with people who actually know what they are doing. The days when "Billy Bob" gets fired from Pizza Hut and becomes a JCO are, and should be over.TYC, if allowed to remain an agency, needs to be more selective of the people they fill their vacant positions with.

Anonymous said...

November 12, 2008

Today, the Sunset Advisory Commission staff released their recommendations regarding the Texas Youth Commission. You can read the entire report at As I've expressed in my previous messages to you, there are many challenges and opportunities for improvement facing our agency. We have tremendous responsibilities in both public safety and rehabilitation.

The first Sunset Advisory Commission staff recommendation, and the one that will get the majority of attention, is to abolish TYC and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC); and then to create a single agency called the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). The rationale is that a single agency would create savings to the state, as well as improve coordination between the two agencies. The report indicates significant savings would come from reductions in central office staff and from closing the TYC Victory Field, West Texas, and Ron Jackson II facilities. The second recommendation is to consolidate state-funded probation services and establish a pilot program that encourages counties to keep lower-risk offenders in their communities. The third and final recommendation is to require the TJJD to develop a comprehensive five-year Juvenile Justice Improvement Plan to integrate state and county juvenile justice functions and address critical state-level reforms.

There are a number of issues highlighted in the report with which we can all agree. However, I do not believe that consolidating the functions of TYC and TJPC is in the best interest of the state or the youth we serve. I’ve had numerous conversations with TJPC’s executive director, Vicki Spriggs, since my appointment. Both of us are committed to improving collaboration, as well as information and data sharing, between our agencies. We both also believe that consolidating these two agencies at this point would not only hinder TYC reform efforts but also lead to unintended negative consequences for TYC and TJPC.

It is important to note that the Sunset Advisory Commission staff report is not a complete or an accurate portrayal of the agency today. Please bear in mind that the recommendations by Sunset staff are simply the first step in a lengthy process. We will be submitting a written response to the staff recommendations no later than November 26, 2008. This response will be shared with you as well as Sunset Commission members. Our response will address not only the specific staff recommendations but also information that is not in the report. While Sunset staff worked diligently to gather information about our mission and responsibilities, much of their information is dated because it was gathered during the summer. As noted in the report, the staff review of our agency was done during a time of tremendous change and reform. Things were changing daily. We have now advanced a number of reforms which are not reflected in the report. I’m confident that bringing this progress to light will be beneficial to those considering the future of this agency and to the juvenile justice system in Texas.

The staff recommendations are provided to Sunset Commission members who then hold a hearing on December 15 and 16 to discuss the recommendations and to hear public testimony. I will be at this hearing, along with TJPC, to present our response to the recommendations and a proposal to remain stand-alone agencies that collaborate with one another in specific areas. After the hearing, the Sunset Commission will develop its own recommendations that will be placed in a bill to either continue or modify the agency. The bill must then go through the legislative process. So, while we are looking at Sunset Advisory Commission staff recommendations today, realize there is a lot that must still take place before any of the recommendations might be implemented.

In the meantime, I want all of you to focus on the jobs in front of you and to help us rebuild the credibility of the Texas Youth Commission. Regardless of what the recommendations and actions of the Sunset Commission may be, our mission and our work have not changed. We must continue to act and speak professionally, both in our official capacities and our personal lives. We must respond promptly and accurately when called upon. Each of us must do our jobs to the very best of our abilities. Now more than ever, TYC needs the credibility and professionalism each of you can bring to the table. I promise to keep you informed as developments occur.


Anonymous said...

I think Cherie should be given a chance to prove herself. Remember though, TYC collapsed from the top down, because of ignorant/self serving managers and administrators, who were concerned about their survival and their cults survival; rather than employees in general and proper handeling of youth and the public trust. Look at Chip, Ayo, Linda, and the top cult leaders that allowed this to happen. They will mostly escape any of their corrupt activities, as TYC struggles just to stay afloat! If combined, get rid of the old trash and bring in responsible, trained people who care about more than themselves; and have integrity to serve the state.

Anonymous said...

I would caution decision makers to take a long, hard look at consolidating all of this under one executive administration, HR, IRD, purchasing, training department, etc. The realities of merging are not always cheaper or more efficient. (Would you merge TEA and the THECB to provide a better continuim of education services/successful outcomes for Texas students?)

Anonymous said...

This is typical Texas legislative crap. We hear it every time they want to "save money" and every time they do things like this they wind up raiding the "private funds" of Teachers, i.e., TRS to pay for the shortfall created by the money savings.

Anonymous said...

Some of those TEA/TRC/TRS plans have allowed people to not pay into SS, or work for two weeks, then draw their retirement plus SS, which is a rip off and they should perhaps help out. They rip off the rest of us, who paid into SS all our lives. Talk about fair? Then don't gripe when your turn comes up.

Anonymous said...

TYC is made up mostly of those who are afraid to speak. This allows the ones who run the show (the special ones) to do as they please. We could have expected that kind of environment to produce the mess we are now in. Those mute ones are now content to watch the special ones deny that anything happened or that there every was a clique that took care of each other and ran a rigged game. The mute ones are now content to allow the special ones to continue this rigged game undetected.

Anonymous said...

Apparantly you read "Raped by The State". Were you brainwashed also? I do agree that several special people ran TYC and drained any honesty in it out. The elites of Austin and their planted institution grunts managed to corrupt the entire system. Who paid for their deadly venture .....the youth...the employees...families of youth....the public and the overall CJ system!

Anonymous said...

What does this mean for average Joe worker? Just because it is abolished doesn't mean they will close every facility. Give it a new name with new what does that really mean?

Anonymous said...

Cherie must not know Chuy and Whitmire. She and the rest of us should accept the change because it will happen. Otherwise, Cherie and the rest of us need to look for employment elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I read through this report and it is clear to me that the Sunset staff are ignorant of the relationships among TYC, TJPC and the local juvenile boards and why those TYC facilities are scattered across the state. It is clear that the Sunset staff is ignorant of history and seem doomed to repeat it. Also on cost savings, there are many additional costs to local governments that are being created as a result of this new agency that are not being taken into account. There is a lack of recognition that such things as sex offender treatment is not being provided because of the limitations created by the legislature placing severe restrictions on who can provide such treatment or that specialized treatment programs do not exist in sufficient quantities because the funding does not exist and will not exist under the Sunset proposal. I could go on but needless to say I am not impressed by the quality of this report, its conclusions or its proposal.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill -

I remember hearing stories of how the juvenile probation commission came to light, but not the full scoop. If you have that history, and why they went on their own, I'd like to hear that history.

OTOH - Sorry juvenile probation commission. I feel bad that our mess may impact your operations. It reminds me of a time when my brother farted in church and denied it, but because I was closely standing by, we both got it. But everyone suffered from the smell. Ouch. :0

Maybe it's time for some stress-relief poems. Feel free to rhyme away your thoughts. It sorta helped us when we first got slammed.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the report starts off with the "silo" buzzword. What a bunch of sheep. They need to "think outside the box" and shift their "paradigms."

Anonymous said...

Since the founding of the Sunset Advisory Commission in 1977, 47 Texas state agencies have been abolished and 11 agency consolidations have occurred. These are facts listed on the Texas Sunset Advisory Committee website. TYC and TJPC are likely to increase those numbers to 49 abolished agencies and 12 consolidated agencies after the next legislative session concludes.

After all the rotten things that have happened at TYC over the past two years, I don't see how TYC stands even slim chance for survival. Not when there's a chance to bury its name and all the bad things associated with it. My guess is that legislators are chomping at the bit to get this done.

I work in one of the facilities recommended for closure by the S.A.C. This recommendation leaves me and many other people with an undetermined future; however, if it could help improve the state of juvenile corrections, I'd say go for it. But how on earth will it benefit the west side of the state if you close the only two facilities located there? How can we properly rehabilitate the kids from so many of our state's counties that lack the resources to do it?

IMO, this is not only illogical, it screams inequality! Think about it. If you are a kid from the east side of the state who gets incarcerated, then you have access to better rehabilitation options. On the other hand, if you are a kid from the west side of the state, you don't get the same quality of rehabilitation because you live too far away from it. This seems a bit like getting sent to the back of the bus! How is that considered progress?

I hope someone will argue this point at the hearings on Dec. 15th in Austin.

My two cents

Anonymous said...

7:34, your analogy cracked me up! You are right, light-hearted humor does seem to help!

Anonymous said...

You make good sense; except the West region only warehouses youth. Treatment and rehabilitation is one thing, but without it you have West Texas warehousing, as it has been for twenty years. The kids deserve more. WTSS has proven to be obselete, unlawful and dangerous.

Anonymous said...

There is an article from one of the news stations that Madden is not impressed with this idea.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone seem to think that county run facilities that fall under the TJPC flagship are flawless? I have worked in 3 county run facilities in different capacities - TYC is better run

Training? County training is watching homemade, out of date videos from the 70's (unsupervised)

Well run - HAH! Loose is the best way to describe these facilities - I was shunned for having the youth make their beds in a standard fashion and enforcing politeness skills/rules

No real sense of facility security and standards in regards to Use Of Force and transports, court hearings etc...

Paperwork made in house and looks different around the state - unorganized and unprofessional at best

Files - a mess, unsecure as well

Staff - most are part timers that make working at the JDC's a second job - uncommitted, not loyal to the agency

Leadership - most county employees do not know what the term organizational chart means!

TJPC has alot of improving to do as well - the report makes TJPC seem too good to be true and TYC the villainous tourble spot.

Blame the uncooperative attitudes on the top brass sitting in Austin as far as that goes - PLEASE

O. Randell said...

If only Father Flanagan was right, and there was no such thing as a bad boy. But then again we wouldn't have a legislature. lol.

Anonymous said...

Add up all of the $100,000 per year chief juvenile probation officers around the state and then talk about calculating the savings. Talk about a top heavy bureaucracy. kind of quiet out there. In my opinion TJPC is little more than a state sanctioned money laundering operation. Show me the evidence based practices from the counties. Go ahead...I'll wait. But it will be a long wait because the research is not there.

Anonymous said...

8:49...which news station?

Anonymous said...

9:49, you sound like a disgruntled ex-County employee, that is now a TYC staff. Sounds like TYC has trained you well on how to whine and bitch. Cry me a river...

Anonymous said...

But the most important thing is that Whitmire gets to beat his chest like he id something. I hope Madden puts him in his place. But I know Whitmire doesn't listen to anything anyone else says, and usually interupts them.

Anonymous said...

Screw that 10:37 - we don't want him/her either. I hope this transition, if it occurs, doesn't mean trading bad apples for bad apples because the TYC bin is full and our mission is to rid them, not transfer them in like TDCJ:


Bronco Billy and his pepper spray wild posse;

Da' Pope' and her F-those JCO's I need carpet;

And Micky Neil: "Let's just do the village" despite there being no one left "to do."

If Texas ever needed a condom placed on a state agency, it was certainly during that time because Rick was a Dick and didn't use good judgment. No period. Foul child came next. His name was Nedelkoff.

Cheri is a proven leader. The state should give her a chance.

Anonymous said...

Hey can add disgraceful...the most disgraceful institution in the state of Texas. Does WTSS get an award for that?

Anonymous said...

Rep. Madden Questions Youth Commission Merger
Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Representative Jerry Madden
A key Richardson Republican is not ready to endorse a proposal to merge the Texas Youth Commission with the state's juvenile probation program. The recommendation comes from the state's Sunset Commission. KERA's Shelley Kofler talked with Representative Jerry Madden.

In 2007, Representative Jerry Madden sponsored legislation that overhauled the youth commission after an investigation confirmed staff had raped and beaten teenage inmates.

Madden says lawmakers rejected a merger of the youth commission and juvenile probation two years ago. As chairman of the House Corrections committee he'll study the current proposal, but says he's not sure it will work now.

Madden: I'm not sure that mix is going to be the right thing for what we're trying to do with the youth of Texas. There are specific programmatic things that are done by the Youth Commission. I'm not sure how well they would fit in that kind of an organization.

Some merger critics say the youth commission has made great strides and needs more time to for reforms to work. Madden has high praise for the new executive director and says he's seen improvements.

Madden: We've increased security substantially with the cameras in place. We've taken some steps with the misdemeanors so they are no longer in the youth commission.

Madden agrees with the report's conclusion that education and medical services are still not adequate. The full Sunset Commission will consider the merger proposal before state lawmakers act on it.

© Copyright 2008, KERA

Anonymous said...

TYC and TDCJ will be abolished should be the headline. After reading the report neither will be a stand alone agency, so why in the hell is TYC getting all the headlines. Let's remember they were combined in 1981 for a reason and our elected officials have tried three other times to combine them back together. Seeing how TYC has allowed the door to be left open for this type of discussion with there past year exploits does not mean they will be the only agency removed from the landscape. It should be noted that the past three times this went up for a vote it was defeated.

Anonymous said...


Will be defeated again.

Anonymous said...

But, we should also remember if Nedelkoff closed the two facilities as was asked for and that are not funded we would not be in as much of the spotlight as we are now.

Cherie will listen and appease these leaders and do the right thing and hopefully we can finish this reconstruction.

Anonymous said...

"You sound like a disgruntled ex-County employee, that is now a TYC staff. Sounds like TYC has trained you well on how to whine and bitch. Cry me a river"

Actually the people were great - but facilities are running light years behind - nothing about me is "disgruntled" I left with good references and welcoming arms should I choose to return...I do have a question for you...Truth Hurt? Why all the anger?

Anonymous said...

Consolidation makes perfect sense only if all parts of the pie are equal. Unfortunately, they are not. Consolidating TYC and TJPC makes about as much sense as putting an alligator and a chicken in the same room. The chicken hasn't got a chance. Ask adult probation people what they think. It's tough at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Tough? If you folks in TJPC are getting a $100,000, you need to earn it. What a rip-off of the state. Why are other similar agencies paid so little compared to you? Get real...all the TYC ex's will try to change-over!

Anonymous said...

No anger issues here 8:58. Just my knowledge of most TYC staff and the tone of your comments make me think you are one of the many whiners and bitchers still at TYC. If in fact you are not, please don't go back, they don't need anymore of you.

Anonymous said...

Open request to all TJPC monitored, county operated, post- adjudication facilities:
Who has the flagship county program and wants to volunteer their OUTSIDE INDEPENDENT audits verifying program success?

Jim Stott said...

I knew it was only a matter of time. Consolidating only makes sense if all pieces of the pie are equal. Creating TDCJ taught us one thing. If you put an alligator and a chicken in the same room, the alligator will always make the final decision. About the only thing that makes sense in this 135 page proposal is that the board is made up of people involved in the system, rather than involved in politics.

Anonymous said...

1:01 - You know anger and self-esteem issues can be solved by first admitting to them and then seeking help - counseling perhaps?

JDO's are ill prepared and unwilling to handle the youth assigned to facilities in TYC


Anonymous said...

Has anyone taken a look at the "leadership" at Ron Jackson? I guess not.

Anonymous said...

In response to 11:56...before you comment on salaries of TJPC employees, perhaps you should do your research. And, it is a fact that TJPC employees are not paid $100,000. In fact other state agencies pay considerably more for similar job responsibilities. Furthermore, only a handful of chiefs (over the larger departments) make that kind of money. Juvenile probation folks are not in it for the money, but are doing what they do to help kids and families. So PLEASE, get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Well said 5:13.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to merge. Other states have one single agency. But if they think it will save money, there not from an nonsupporting county commissioner court--county. They will need to fund every community program that will be used. Counties wont pay for them. Staffing is a 4 letter word for most commissioners. Better be ready to put the money where it is needed in the rural areas.

Anonymous said...

The Sunset Commission report presented a dismal portrait of TYC. Gems include those completing their sex offender program having a higher recidivism rate that other juvenile inmate sex offenders not being included in the program due to limited capacity, the limited number of identified mental health problem youngsters served (30% of those identified), and the previous shocking outcome statistics on their substance abuse programs. The Sunset Commission gave the overall recidivism rate as 43%. However, if you look at the rates of recurrent substance abuse, failure to complete educational programs, unemployment, and marital and other problems, the recidivism rate is probably closer to 100%. The problem, of course is, as as so many times been pointed out, TYC does not have good rehabilitative programs. It remains a largely correctional program with a few hours of class instruction in classes that mix students functioning at the Kindergarten to high school level, and other largely dysfunctional rehabilitative programs. TYC is currently in the process of introducing their "Connections" program to their general population. It is behavioral modification and group therapy program administered by their unskilled staff. The center piece of the "Connections" is their "Thinking for Change", a cognitive program that supposedly teaches young offenders new ways of thinking about their life problems. However, I heard recently from someone working with the program at the TYC Central Office that there is absolutely no evidence that this program, developed for adult offenders, is applicable with juveniles. And so it goes--downhill that is. Wasted time, wasted money, wasted resources. My plumber, whose name happens to also be "Joe", recently suggested TYC increase their vocational programs, and staff their professional programs, and things would be better. As things stand now, TYC youth, most of whom are not academic material, do not have vocational education available to them, and their professional programs for their substance abusers, sex offenders, and mentally ill are only partially staffed, leaving 50% or more of youngsters in need with unskilled help from dorm staff. Of course, incarcerating youngsters way out in the country or out into the desert somewhere far from home only makes everything else worse. Unfortunately, Joe is not Executive Director of TYC, and some corrupt political hack is. The Sunset Commission is apty named, and I look forward to their completing their long overdue mission. Kudos to Sen. Whitmire for getting things rights!

Anonymous said...

5:13 Travis County has an Juvenile Probation Assistant Director level position posted on the TJPC web site for $98,868. Didn't take a rocket scientist to do the research and immediately find one of those high paying positions you say doesn't exist. Wonder how much of that salary is funded by state dollars?

Anonymous said...

The main problem with TYC right now is that there is no, I repeat, no, program. There were problems with Resocialization, but it was, for the most part, a workable program. Now, what do we have?

The key to all the discord on TYC campuses is not primarilly due to personnel problems, it is due to a lack of program.

Anonymous said...

I am a TYC employee, whinnier, bitcher what ever were called at the moment.
All I have to say is this,

Tyc is in a Whirlwind and spinning out of control at all LEVELS. Every dept, staff, kids are flying by the seat of their pants.Kids are getting more and more uncontrollable daily.

No one knows what to do, if some one farts you don't know where to smell it or bottle it!

You get a directive and in five minutes or less it is either don't do that , do this or do nothing at all , just wait till someone sends another one and the process is repeated.

No one is wrong or right these days, no one knows who the hell to believe or what to do. You go to work, do what the flavor of the moment is and if you don't agree with it, just hang in there cause it will Change before the day is up.

Most feel, just do something right or wrong, for the good or the bad, JUST Frig gen do it and tells how to do it and stick with it.

Shut down who you want and let us get on with our lives and tell us your going to do it, now. Most at our unit are finding , looking and taking other jobs because the fear of being left out in the cold and the need for our families to survive in this world comes first. We like what we do and kids need help, but anyone who says they want tend to their own first is probably not telling the truth.

JUST DO IT TYC, LEGISLATORS, SUNSET, Just get er done one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

6:57, Travis Co employees are NOT employed by TJPC.

Anonymous said...

Good job..656. I read "Raped by The State", and it basically mirrors every thing you have reported. We have a long way to go to save TYC.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the Sunset's staff report that I hope some out there can answer. I am trying my best to read the recommendations and decipher their meaning, but apparently I am not familiar with some of the terminology.

What is meant by "pitot funding of departmental programming" as discussed in section 1.3 of the Sunset's Staff Report? Is this the Sunset's terminology for contract care, and are they talking about BIDS for contract care when they discuss who will receive the money and how it will be used?

I would like to know exactly how youth committed to TYC will be managed in the more remote areas where facilities may be closing.

Anonymous said...

8:16. The point is TJPC, on behalf of the state, provides the money and makes the rules. If TJPC takes the money away the county facilities go away. TJPC has a RESPONSIBILITY to know what the outcomes are for the tax dollars provided. Like it or not you are responsible not only for giving the money out, but in addition, for accounting for the effectiveness of the programs you funded. Please point me in the direction of INDEPENDENT audits of scientifically measured outcomes for the millions of dollars funneled through your agency to the counties. What did we get for the money other than a bunch $100,000 per year burecrats.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire was enraged about the highly overpaid TYC jerks in Austin. Does he know about the TJPC overpaid folks? Combine these units and the state may go broke! More scandal? More corruption? Enough.

Anonymous said...

Before I came to TYC, I read as many Board Meeting Minutes as I could get my hands on, going back to 2002. I was impressed at how amicable the board members were to the administration. There was a very big sense of pride and a belief that TYC was doing what it was supposed to do.

During those years leading up to 2007, the Legislature and other areas of Gov't oversight, from the Governor's office to Sunset, seemed content to "leave well enough alone"

One interesting thing about our state government is the fact that the legislature only convenes to conduct business every other year, (with the exception of some committees.) Most Legislators are really part timers with business and vocational interests outside of Texas Government.

That structure alone tends to mean that there is generally speaking a "hands off approach" with state agencies, u n t i l......something hits the fan in the media, at which point you usually get a very reactive legislature.

Because of this, Texas laws and government codes have have become a monsterous blob of disconnected rules, policies and procedures. All of which is aggrevated by a legislative philosophy of fiscal austerity which forces agencies to operate at a bare minimum of efficiency. Those agencies that are money makers, i.e. generate revenue, get a bigger piece of the pie. TABC, DPS, Health and Human Services, TXDOT, etc. Corrections is viewed as a necessary evil that is a big drain on the budget with little to show in return.

Local Probation Department have been able to meet their budgetary needs because of getting some State funds through TJPC and the Governor's office, some Federal funds through DOJ crime prevention programs, funds from County taxes, funds from DA's offices, and fees from Probationers, and possibly even some Crime Stopper's funds. In other words, for the most part they appear to pay their own way. That can look very seductive to Legislators who believe that the probation model is capable of providing Juvenile services more efficiently than State agencies.

Unfortunately, instead of really studying the long term implications of anything, like consolidation, the Legislature goes with political expediency. TYC has been a political nightmare. Whatever is good about the agency, seems overshadowed by its' recent history in the last two years.

The great majority of people who work directly with the youth in TYC care about the kids. That includes the staff at Victory, Ron Jackson and West Texas.

Granted, some of the OIO reports, seemed to just feed into the media's feeding frenzie on negativity. It's too bad that the same media folks that broke the bad news a few years back, don't take the time to visit with the new Executive Commissioner, visit the different schools, and talk with some of the parents and youth who passed through TYC and came out better than when they went in.

TYC's current problem is a lot like the current economy. When the confidence of consumers goes out, it becomes difficult to believe that things will improve. It becomes a visious cycle that feeds on it's own doubt.

If the media, the OIO, line staff, and parents of Youth would start focusing and sharing what is working in TYC, instead of how hopeless it seems, then the sun may not have to set on TYC.

There sure isn't a lot to loose at this point by trying.

Anonymous said...

Jesus -

Identify yourself 9:18. Amen... Excellent points. That's by far the best summation I've ever heard.

TYC has some really, very good people who came in from the outside, and well, that's evident by that post. I'm old TYC, and well, that one takes the cake. I can tell just by that post, we have help now and thank God, and God Bless Cherie.

Anonymous said...

'wow' is all i can say about that post. Nice work. Very good insight and investigating. I agree.

Anonymous said...

I am not a blogger but I have read grits on many occassions. Some of the blogging is legitimate discussion of the issues and some people just seem to want to throw stones...which I guess makes them feel better. The true question here is whether the Sunset Commission really sees the big picture and is the recommendation a better system to serve the kids of Texas that come to probation with a multitude of problems and in most cases are given many opportunites through varios programs, counseling and placement before finally being committed to TYC. The backbone of this system for the last 30 years has been the probation system and continues to be the people who sacrifice everyday to make a difference in the lives of 95% of the juveniles referred to the system in Texas. I know there are good people at TYC that care about kids and I am not trying to take away from those individuals, but If a kid goes to TYC from a midsize department or larger department they have, in most cases, exhausted all the programs, services and placements that a probation department has to offer and they either cannot get their act together (for a variety of reasons, many which are not their own fault) or they just refuse to cooperate with the treatment and services offered because it is a family tradition to be locked up and that appears to be their goal. Some smaller departments have sent some inappropriate kids to TYC in the past due to lack of resources, but in most cases resources have been exhausted and the kid has been given every opportunity that the local juridiction could provide with their local funds and state contributions. Yes, some of you bloggers out there that seem to feed off of envy might say that probation salaries, for some of these people, are too high, but if you really look at that information statewide,(which TJPC can supply) then you would find in most parts of the state that is not the case.
Most of what Sunset is responding too is the same thing that all of us are concerned about, the continuing crisis at TYC and the fact that in two years of fumbling around it has not gotten much better (probably due mostly to the innappropriate leadership appointments by the govenor's office and the lack of real system fixes in Senate Bill 103).
The Sunset Commissions is basing their opinions in the report on their limited knowledge of the system based on interviews from TYC, TJPC, some probation folks, legislators and what they read in the news. I am sure that they have been given direction from some legislators that they are responding too, but overall the report is trying to fulfill their mission of evaluating agencies and recommending what they belive is the best direction for the state and the taxpayers. Yes their picture is not big enough or completely without prejudice, but how could it be in the limited time they have studied it and the skewing that results from so many trying to protect their own backsides and jobs instead of trying to protray a true picture of the situation?
One of the most distrubing things to me in this entire situation is how the TYC problems have birthed a large gathering of vultures that call themselve advocates and protray themselves as caring about the kids but really are motivated by how they are going to line their own pockets with the money that the legislature will throw at this problem. If you really dig deep into who set up some of these organiztions then you will find that to be true. These people are running around the state and the capital and instead of helping the situation only make it worse because their hidden agenda is really not about helping the kids.
TYC has obviously got some major flaws in the system and has had some significant abuses that maybe Cherie can fix if given time, but I am afraid her decision to throw her hat in the ring maybe too little too late based on how our Texas system works and how little has been done with TYC since all the information surfaced last session. TJPC, although not in any way as beurecratic as TYC, has also got some problems and has
had some significant miscues in leadership decisions over the years that have contribited to what we are seeing in the report. The agency has survived by riding the wave of good probation services statewide and in most cases has attempted to help and not get in the way of that until the state auditor and advocates have scared them silly in the last few years and have colored their perception of the reality.
I personally believe that this Sunset train is probably not going to be stopped at this point and it does concern me to see how the adult probation system has been hurt by this type of arraingment with TDCJ...But the real issue here is how is the state of Texas going to take care of these kids and rehabilitate them in a way that makes sense and is cost effective. It is important to look at what works out there and what doesn't and neither TYC, TJPC, or the legislature has spent much time doing that. We need some leadership at the state level that is willing to listen, make the difficult choices and lead in the right direction for Texas kids...not California kids, Ohio kids, or Missouri kids. Texas is not any of those states and in my opinion, with some exceptions, has done much better than all of them for most of the kids in this great state. Whatever comes of this, the people in Austin do need to wake up, acknowledge their past blindness and mistakes, get past the beaurecratic rhetoric and get on with the business of helping kids. This is what probation has been doing for years, in the trenches everyday, making a difference in the lives of the kids of this state and keeping most of them in their own homes and out of institutions and TYC.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't think the sunset plan will save money but rather cost more.

I'd also fear that the counties are going to get stuck with some pretty difficult cases with no resources. Yes, Whitemire will fund it initially, and then when all the glad handing is done,the victory speechs given, the headlines die down, the cameras tuned off.... they'll snatch whatever those funds were right back. I wouldn't trust this one bit.

And if you heard Whitmire talking before the sunset, you'd think he was looking right over their shoulders as they wrote that report.So, why do we really need a sunset commission when we have John Whitmire?

Anonymous said...

The Sunset commission looks at how well agencies perform their legislated function, both programatically and financially, to serve the citizenry.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering why the State even has a Juvenile Justice System.

It seems that one main reason is that children do behave in anti-social ways, which would be (and are) criminalized in most cases if they did so past a certain age.

Advocates of Juvenile Justice say that it has a strong prevention component based on the idea that people (even children) can change their behavior.

I think it is also probably based on the idea that as children, we all go through natural "phases" of incorigability and seem to be able to come out of it.

While in many cases, that's true, it many cases it isn't true.

We don't really know why. We hate to give up on the idea that all kids are really good at heart, and with a little adult supervision, things will change.

You would think that with all of the resources available to families and kids in our State, including school programs, church programs, social service agency programs, court diverstion programs and Juvenile Probations programs, that very few of the incorigible youth would be able to fail themselves into a juvenile correctional facility like TYC, (notice I didn't use that awful word prison).

The fact is, despite our hopes that "best practices" (the latest fad), in the areas of education and juvenile justice, these youth have not "come around".

The State, theoretically could say to every city and county, "that's your problem, keep the little hoods in your own lockups for however long you can afford it!".

Can you imagine what the local DA's, Sheriff's Departments and Police Departments would be faced with if these youth who were incorigible had to be handled on the city or county level?

I wonder if any eventual consolidation of TYC with TJPC forshadows the beginning of an attempt by the State at shifting the burden (legal, social, and financial) of Juvenile Justice away from the State and onto the local cities and counties.

This would be a major change in the paradigm about Juvenile Justice and incarceration practices.

So I wonder what the people of this State really want for their kids, and is it the same thing that the Legislature wants?

Are all kids able to be re-integrated back into a community?

Should the local communities that raised problem kids, and then had them judged to be delinquent, be responsible for their rehabilitation and/or incarceration instead of the State?

If the State does have a responsability for Juvenile Justice, is it just funding, or is it tough, effective programs, facilities, and public safety (another favorite phrase that justifies spending tax dollars).

How long should incarceration be and who determines when a kid is ready to go home? Is it the end of his sentance, ready or not? Is it an assessment by professionals from both the local community (schools, law enforcement, church), and from the prison?

How much money is enough money if you want to salvage a kid?

When do you say, "we give up" on change and hope and throw away the key to the prison door?

It seems to me that any major changes anticipated for the Juvenile Justice system at this time in our State's decision making process, should attempt to address some of these issues.

When the Sunset Committee convenes to hear comment on their proposal, along with the agency leadership of TYC and TJPC, their should be local citizens, parents, social workers, law enforcement, juvenile justice workers from TJPC and TYC, county commissioners, school superintendant and the local garbage man present to give their imput. If they don't show up and voice their questions and concerns about the Sunset Commissions intended recommendations, then the special interests who lobby the Sunset Commission will prevail.

Anonymous said...

When you throw your hands up and concede 'there's nothing more we can do," I say bullshit. You protect the community, and that's exactly what we expect you to do. You can't put a dollar value on a human life. If those kids haven't rehabilitated themselves and are still dangerous - keep them locked up - period. The victims are watching this development, and they will be heard.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the legislature listened to folks like the parents of certain youthful sex offenders who complained that their children were locked up beyond their allotted time. No-one stopped to consider the meaning of "minimum" lenght of stay. These youth who had been kept beyond their minimum were held because they refused to conform to the programs. As a result of all the hoopla, the lege decided to change the word "minimum" to "maximum". Now, in order to keep a youth beyond his or her "minimum" there has to be an agreement on a "release review" panel. Those release review panels do not review a youth's case until he is close to his "minimum" length of stay. Result- kids feel they can act as they please, basically without fear of consequences. The old Level One and Level Two hearings at least assigned immediate consequences - thus the kids got to connect their behavior with the consequence. Now, there is no such connection.

Why not go back to the old Level one and Level two hearings? To avoid the abuses that did occur at times with those hearings, have the review panels immediately review the findings of the hearings and either uphold or overturn them?

If we are to restore any order into the programs at TYC, there has to be a balance of rewards for good behavior and sure and certain negative consequences for bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

In the new TYC I am in, Kids can do anything they please and they are not getting consequences for anything. A restriction or time out! Get real folks these kids are laughing at that stuff.This is going to keep them out of jail in the future?
IMO, 99% of them are not accepting the "treatment". We use to call it Fake it to Make it, if any remembers that term.
At this stage in their teenage growing brain cells, we or county or anyone has a slim chance of changing these kids.
Brain research says that kids brains are not fully grown until a certain age. I can not remember but think it 24years of age. May be wrong on that.
We try, we counsel, we teach, we pray but they do not listen. As long as we are allowing the same behavior in a lock up system, then we are never going to make them ready for re-entry into society.
Just my Two CENTS and probably not worth a damn!

Anonymous said...

Your two cents is worth a damn to us. This is an actual letter/e-mail I received from a parent of a victim of a violent crime.

Our daughter was killed by a gang of thugs, two sent to TDCJ, but two were sent to TYC (giddings but later transferred) as violent offenders. Those are the two I watch because I know their time is coming up yet both don't seem to have care about their crime by identifying my daughter by her name. She was a person, a kid, not a object, or hoe as one of them said during his description of the crime. She didn't know these idiots. She was at TCBY buying a yogurt when the place was robbed and she was killed. Shot in the head. DNA confirmed that was our daughter because we couldn't identify her. We were in denial. Those were her clothes, but maybe she and one friend traded clothes? We just didn't accept this at all.

They used a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun and shot her in the face. It blew her head to pieces.

I don't really give a shit he was 14 years old at the time of Liza's murder. I don't care about the " crip tear drop" he wanted so badly. She was only 13, she was my baby, and she was with friends when she was murdered. We can never forget the experience of going to pick up our Liza and her friends and seeing all these police and emergency personnel. I'll never forget when they pulled the sheet back for us to identify Liza and saw what these thugs did to her. It will haunt me forever.

This will be our third Christmas without Liza. She would have been 16 going on 17. We wonder what she would have wanted for X-Mas this year. We'll never know now. She was taken many, many miles away from us.

Yet, you all want to get her killers closer to home?


(name deleted)

Anonymous said...

6:37 PM - I am so sorry for your loss. So many people, including our legislators, have no idea what some of these kids are capable of. Your story was the most compelling argument yet for non-regionalization. I certainly hope you will send your story to Senator Whitmire and Representative Madden. God Bless You and your family.

Anonymous said...

A youth assaults a staff and within 1 hour is back on the dorm.

A search finds pills on the dorm and the youth is back on the dorm within 24 hours.

A group of 12 youth try to beat up 1 youth and staff has to keep him in a corner to protect him. (yes he was later assaulted by 2 youth)
He is sent to security but the others stay on the dorm.

Youth refuse to do anything staff says and cuss staff for telling them what to do.
The youth gets no consequenses.

A search finds tatooing gun and the youth is back on the dorm within hours.

These are all things that have happened in the last week, how is combining these agencies going to change these things?

Anonymous said...

Decent administrators and managers to back them up. Youth need strong guidance but not abuse. Until TYC learns to provide these differences, staff and youth will will be the victims. When staff learn to give respect, they usually get it back from youth. Youth can read staff and respond just as well as staff; both in a positive or negative way. You can't curse the youth and hurt his peers and then expect the youth to respect you as a staff!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what universe you live in but you don't know the youth at tyc.
I have never used a curse word on campus other than describing what was said to me.
I have never physically abused a youth, all my prt's are by the book.
I get no respect because the youth know they can do anything they want, assaults, drug trafficing whatever and nothing will happen to them.
They have there gangs ( I am told not to use that word) so they stick together and could care less about staff.
I have seen a youth get his phase while in security on redirect, that is what the youth see so they get what they want without following the rules so why should they obey staff.
Combining the agencies will not correct this.

Anonymous said...

I have been with TYC for over 10 years. I have always believed that we need to show these kids what the real prison is like to some extent. I am not talking about being raped or beaten or beaten raped by staff so don't mis-understand my point here.
TYC needs to be a hard place to be and it needs to give these kids a taste of being in jail, to NOT MAKE THEM EVER WANT TO RETURN. You can do this with out abuse.
Parents want the best for them and I understand that. But putting them in a j.jail and making it like Kindergarten and easy to do the time is not "scaring them straight" its promoting that its ok to do time for a crime, a piece of cake.
So in their mind, it want be that bad if I get caught doing something against the law, drugs, robbery, murder,gang crap.
My point is that they need to develop the attitude that they never want to enter another jail as long as they live! We are not doing that in our j.jails we are going in the opposite direction giving them all the rights as a juvenile's and beating the system and continue with the criminal's mind set that they entered the system with.
ConNextion is not the answer, it may be the answer in a ideal world but not in the world we all live in. It looks and sounds wonderful, but it will not work on the criminal mind.
WHY? Because we don't have the staff to make the program work. We have to many kids to work with at one time. Now if they were in a setting where there were only 10-12 kids at one place, it could work on most of them. Nothing works 100% and one size want fit all.

Highly trained motivated staff (not TYC training bs) will work. You need qualified, certified caring professional each and everyone to make this program work. State of Texas does not have the resources to get this done.

The system is broken beyond repair and there is no way out of this one. All the conversations, blogs, best practices is going to fix this mess in Texas. We will rename the TYC and we will claim a new best practice program, media will go away for awhile, we will become old news and the same crap will brew again and the kids will continue to run the show and go back to the streets to rob, rape, kill one more time till they reach TDCJ or meet their maker. Only a few will find their way back to society and live a productive life.

Anonymous said...

Scott, found this on Google Alerts under Texas Youth Commission. Interesting perspective.

November 14, 2008 Printable version

UNT expert available to discuss the proposed abolishment of the Texas Youth Commission

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The staff of a legislative advisory board recommended that the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), which has been plagued by scandal in recent years, be abolished and merged with another major agency dealing with young offenders.

Dr. Chad R. Trulson, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of North Texas, says that the abolishment of the Texas Youth Commission may be premature, and that officials need to consider all of the consequences of such action.
"A merger is no guarantee of anything, with respect to the treatment of youth, without substantial investment in other areas. Simply merging two organizations is simply merging two organizations--there is no reason to believe that this will somehow take care of the problems that have faced and currently face the TYC," said Trulson.

Trulson, a former TYC parole officer, who also authored the book "Juvenile Justice: System, Process, and Law," along with several studies on the institutional behavior and recidivism of TYC youth says that the best course of action at this point may be to give the Texas Youth Commission more time to work on their problems.

"The history of TYC has been marked by mergers and separations and boards of advisors of all shapes and sizes. If the goal is to fix the problems facing the TYC, there is no real indication that a merger by itself will do that. History suggests that it will not," said Trulson. "Based on all of the issues the TYC faces, perhaps the best bet is to give them the time and resources to work out the issues."

Trulson can be reached at or (940) 565-2758 for further comments about the proposed Texas Youth Commission merger.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108
Contact: Alyssa Aber (940) 565-3510

Anonymous said...

According to the Sunset Report, 3 facilities (Victory Field, Ron Jackson II and West Texas) are the facilities recommended for closure. Supposedly, no decision has yet been made on who will actually close, but it seems interesting to me that RJ II, which has been empty since the girls moved to Brownwood (the reason for the closure recommendation) is now scheduled to receive somewhere around 80 youth from around the state. Do you think that a conscious effort is being made to save RJII? Seems like it to me. Vernon knows it's already gone. What do you think this means for WTSS? In stereotypical fashion, the decision has been made under the table and with absolutely no concern for the staff at WTSS, their families or their communities. Give Cherie a chance? Hmmmmmmm! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said...

These times are tough for sure. On top of the "fact" that at least one, and likely two facilities will close, there is an economy that is contracting, which means in a short amount of time, local employers in the areas of whichever facilities are closed will likely not be hiring very much. This makes timing, i.e. finding out if you need a new job, critical. Of course, on balance, there may be some employment opportunities within TYC that will become available at existing facilities for those staff who need a job on short order. Also, there may be some planning on when and where the new smaller regionalized non-institutional programs will be located, potentially providing some job opportunities for dislocated staff. Still, it appears that at least the new Exec. Comm. is a) telling it like it is, and b) trying not to be reactive to every pronouncement from outside the agency about where to take TYC. I'm betting that she understands how awful the waiting is. I don't think she wants to say anything that she has to backtrack on. She seems to be pretty time-line oriented, so far. However I agree that sometimes, it is difficult not to believe that everything isn't still based on the self-serving interests of people in CO. Sometimes you just have to let it go as much as you can and turn it over to God in prayer. Prayer for yourself and your family, and prayer for the Exec. Comm.

Anonymous said...

TJPC and local juvenile probation departments are oriented toward community based programs even though some larger counties operate secure residential programs. TJPC does monitor local detention/residential programs for standards compliance but has no expertise in operational aspects of same.

TYC is all about institutions. TJPC has no expertise operating institutions and TYC has no expertise operating community based programs. Seems to me to be a match made in Hell.

Anonymous said...

I partially agree here, yet since we all have seen that TYC has no expertise in operating institutions, an alternative must be found. Simply placing youth in remote, dangerous facilites only makes youth worse. TYC's own records have proven that. TYC has proven that it needs to go. Any change would have to be better!

Anonymous said...

So is the Sunset staff passing judgement on TYC now because they supposedly somehow failed to enact SB 103 after being failed by several Tojan Horse leaders to cure their sins of supposed system wide corruption or because they somehow concluded that the same agency they lauded before the West Texas scandal when TYC was viewed by other State Juvenile departments as a model system was in actuality just a bunch of bull? Folks from other State Juvenile programs came to Texas to see if they could replicate TYC's sucess. Were those people idiots? Or are the moral sins of a few individuals in leadership positions suddenly stain the whole TYC garment unworthy to be admired?
Is the State punishing the Agency for true systemic failure, or is State leadership just so embarrassed that they have gone from being a model to emulate to an agency that they can't seem to re-integrate after they helped rip it to pieces after the press showed that State leadership was asleep at the wheel? If TYC is to go away, let it be because there is an established, proven system that Texas can copy here, and willing to put in the resources required to do it. Don't shut the agency down because it's the easy thing to do. There is a lot of history, experience, knowledge and committment still within the existing (though badly maligned agency). "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater". Give the new Exec. Comm. some soap, water, scrub brush, towel, and time. Maybe the baby will grow up into a better child than it has been. Isn't that the idea in "corrections"??

Anonymous said...

TYC needs to understand and accept that critics will cry, advocates will whine, and the press will press to sell papers - but the only way to get our point across to these f'ed up juvenile delinquents who are hell bent on victimizing others is to LOCK THEIR ASSES UP PERIOD. DON'T ABOLISH TYC - FILL TYC.

Anonymous said...

IF it takes $150.00 per day to house a youth in a post program, where is the legislature going to cut funds? Counties and communities want "bang for the buck". And they dont want a violent child in there schools or neighborhoods. Progams will have to be finacially supported along with the "human resources" necessary to carry them out. Forget about any unfunded mandates!! The local med and small size departments/facilities always get left out of the funding ratios. The big 6 always gets the steaks the rest the bones.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire and Madden and Turner failed 6"37 - where are the Victim's Rights people? Get them involved!!!

Anonymous said...

The Sunset staff recommendations lend themselves to some interesting facts, the meaning of which, you can only speculate upon.

It appears that the Sunset staff was influenced considerably by the Honorable Mark Levin, Esq. in formulating some of their conclusions. Mr. Levin, very intelligent and articulate, is very influential in his contributions to Legislative issues.

Also, of note is the Honorable Will Harrell, Esq., who's reports as TYC's Ombudsman appear to have been influential in the Sunset staff's conclusions about the inadequacy of educational programming within TYC.

Msrs. Levin and Harrell, have worked extensively together on both Legislative and political issues over the last few years, mostly for the good.

How much these two powerhouses influenced the Sunset staff's recommendation one way or another is anyones' guess. But given their close affiliation, and the fact that Mr. Levin's influence was referenced in the report, I would think it was considerable. Is that good or bad? Depends on weather you believe the report should be influenced by individuals who champion particular ideas about criminal justice in general and TYC in particular, and if anyone stands to gain some advantage from the proposed changes. But then, I guess it would be naive to think that Sunset staffs' work product can be or should be objective. Who do you trust anymore?

Anonymous said...

Well here's your first hint: go back and read John Whitmire's plan for TYC and compare that to the sunset report. Go figure.

Stand up Jerry Madden, and hold your ground.

Anonymous said...

Well here's your first hint: go back and read John Whitmire's plan for TYC and compare that to the sunset report. Go figure.

Stand up Jerry Madden, and hold your ground.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess my question might be who the staff of the good Senator used to help craft the elements of his TYC reform proposal.

Once upon a time, Dr. Tony Fiablo, would have been the proponent of such creative ideas, but I doubt that he was the source.

Also, the Legislator who sponsored SB 103 allowed Will Harrell to craft the Ombudsman's powers into the bill, and then Harrell came up with the job. It doesn't get any better than that in politics.

Marc Levin has some fairly strong links in political circles himself, not least of which is his involvement in the The Texas Public Policy Foundation which has been supportive of several legislative initiatives put forth by Sen. Whitmire and worked closely with the Texas ACLU when Will Harrell lead that organization.

So in several ways, all three are connected with each other.

One other interesting thread in this woven tale, is the fact that Sen. Hinajosa and Sen. Whitmire both serve on the TYC reform committee and Sen. Hinajosa also happens to be a member of the Sunset Commission.

Now mind you, this all may just be one big conincidence and nothing more.

Anonymous said...




Sec. 51.01. PURPOSE AND INTERPRETATION. This title shall be construed to effectuate the following public purposes:
(1) to provide for the protection of the public and public safety;
(2) consistent with the protection of the public and public safety:
(A) to promote the concept of punishment for criminal acts;
(B) to remove, where appropriate, the taint of criminality from children committing certain unlawful acts; and
(C) to provide treatment, training, and rehabilitation that emphasizes the accountability and responsibility of both the parent and the child for the child's conduct;
(3) to provide for the care, the protection, and the wholesome moral, mental, and physical development of children coming within its provisions;
(4) to protect the welfare of the community and to control the commission of unlawful acts by children;
(5) to achieve the foregoing purposes in a family environment whenever possible, separating the child from the child's parents only when necessary for the child's welfare or in the interest of public safety and when a child is removed from the child's family, to give the child the care that should be provided by parents; and
(6) to provide a simple judicial procedure through which the provisions of this title are executed and enforced and in which the parties are assured a fair hearing and their constitutional and other legal rights recognized and enforced.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

On the "other" web-site, the moderator stated that it is final, TYC had been abolished. Did I miss something? When are they meeting to decide this stuf?

Anonymous said...

Take a struggling state agency and combine it with one that takes care of its responsibilities (for the most part) and combine them = one bigger agency that struggles.

That's real smart!!!

Anonymous said...

2:13 says it best. I've read every damn word of the report and they suggest combining a dysfunctional agency that has been mismanaged and is completely unable to fulfill any part of its mission with an agency that for the most part, came out of sunset exam clean. They can take their silos and cram them up their asses.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - like that prisoner and his cell phone...

Anonymous said...

Ray Brookings is scheduled to appear in court on 18 Dec 08. A change of venue will be requested. His lawyer has been in hiding; unable to be contacted. As time passes, less people care....lower the charges and later...just drop them. Saves embarassment to many people, including the top cover-up folks and some top legislaters!

Anonymous said...

What was happening in TYC was considered important. The fact that the same old system is still in operation doesn't matter. Get over it! Nobody cares about all that anymore. Don't complain about all those people who keep the old system in place. Don't mention their names. Secrets are power. You may offend somone.

Anonymous said...

Working in TYC i see the need to hire staff, at all levels, that are appropriately educated and trained to do their jobs. JCO's should at least have bachelor's degrees, Caseworkers should have appropriately designated Master's degrees and education, and High level administrators really should be extremely highly educated and experienced.

I have to express my dismay that it has taken so long to identify that TYC's new program has absolutely no basis in evidence based programs. Thinking for a change has not been tested with juvenile populations. Unfortunately, many of the people, even in the research department, don't even know what "evidence based" means, or have the skills to appropriately research whether or not something is supported by evidence.

Texas will not provide the financial support necessary to operate an effective, rehabilitative, long term treatment/correctional system.

Bring on the feds to make them do so.

Anonymous said... you reside in the real world? Were you on spacecraft with Shaftener? Get real. They can't get folks straight from the street....let along a degree. Is you're from Mexico?

Anonymous said...

I think I pretty much said there is no chance in hell that it will happen because there is no financial support. I still think it is what is needed.

Anonymous said...

Get real 9:10 ain't nobody with a bachelors degree going to work as a JCO and put up with all the verbal abuse these youth display on a daily basis. And not just the verbal abuse but also the disrespect and feelings of not being a valuable asset that comes from the higher ups. So many JCO's are going to school to get a bachelors degree so they can leave the agency.

Anonymous said...

Oh yea 9:10 the higher administration do not have to be very highly educated, they just need to know how to treat staff with respect.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. We have far too many unqualified people in mid to upper level management. particularly in treatment and case management or whatever they call it now.

Unfortunately, many JCO staff swear as much as the youth.

Anonymous said...

According to the recommendations, the new "Juvenile Justice Department" will combine the functions of TYC and TJPC. TYC is a state agency and TJPC is an administrative agency created to assist Juvenile Probation which is a "special entity." The recommendation to collapse the two is confusing and misleading. Juvenile Probation will not become a state agency because then the ship and the crew must move over to the state's meal ticket. Sunset indicates that there is no "seamless fitting together between state and local departments." The real kicker is the assumption that Counties are going to be willing to continue funding and pick up the tab when ordered to pick up the tab by the new Juvenile Justice Department. Oh and by the way, the new Juvenile Justice Department is also going to take away your local control of your probation department. If sunset thinks it is difficult getting funding from a single entity (State), how much more difficult will it be to get funding from each individual county? Honestly, the only way to pull this off would be if both agencies, including everyone employed in juvenile probation, county facilities... become state employees. AND that my friend, will not be done at a cost savings to the State.

Anonymous said...

In some counties, juvenile workers make considerably more than TYC workers, while in others, they make considerably less. You are right, consolidation will not save money for the state.