Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kids guarding kids

While we haven't seen many staff prosecutions as a result of the contraband scandal in Texas adult prisons last fall, news arrives from Waco of a 23-year old TYC guard receiving a four year prison sentence for smuggling pot onto the Mart II unit. "Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court rejected a plea agreement between [Phillip Patrick] Spain and the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office that called for Spain to be placed on felony probation for 10 years."

Like the sex abuse allegations revealed in December, I think about this news with mixed emotions. On the one hand, clearly the agency's problems aren't fixed.

On the other, it's likely these issues would never even have come to light two or three years ago before the Office of Inspector General was created, and no prison - adult or juvie - is immune to corruption of youthful, underpaid, unqualified staff.

When you have a 23-year old guarding high school age youth, the risk they'll find they have more in common with the inmates than with their employer is always there.

It's also notable that the judge insisted on a harsher sentence than the District Attorney had agreed to; clearly officialdom is treating TYC cases a lot more seriously than in the past, for good or ill.

So the checks and balances installed at TYC appear stronger than in the past, but the agency sure could use a respite from the hail of bad news over the last couple of years. Mr. Spain did his coworkers no favors.


Anonymous said...

23 year olds should be more responsible. we have clearly competent 20 year olds at Mart watching youth. the comment about having more in common with the kids than the organization - I am over 40 and can often relate better to the youth than the dysfunctional organization. if the organization could convey values authentically, it would be easier "getting with the program." that said, the incident referred to is certainly the rare expection rather than the rule, at least at Mart.

Anonymous said...

Good for that judge and I hope the other deal they made for him was not to let him off the hook. Any drug pusher should go to jail and stay there.
I witnessed a family member trying to bring in drugs to their Kid. They were caught at the gatehouse. They took them to jail on the spot. So its not always the workers that do wrong.
IMO, if your bringing in drugs to kids, then pay the price and I hope the price is a tough one to "smoke". Same goes for TDC.

Anonymous said...

when will folks begin to realize that this is the world of corrections we live in. Look at the corruption in the adult system. the agency should be applauded for smoking this criminal out and ensuring he's prosecuted. the young felon passed background checks but still was misled into committing a crime in a correctional facility. compare the staff arrests to that to the adult system even on ratio and you will see TDCJ is the overwhelming high percentage agency here. you don't see that in the paper everyday like the sensational tyc hype.

Anonymous said...

as for kids guarding kids the agency has systems in place to maintain a three year difference between the jco and the youth they are working with that is practicle to the workforce. this is part of the senate bill (103)

Anonymous said...

even with all the corruption you bet TDCJ will get pay increases and TYC will get left out of the parity race

Anonymous said...

It's truly sad that sexual abuse and contraband incidents are still occurring at TYC. I have also heard that a national survey of prison sexual violence found that TYC had the highest incidence again last year of sexual abuse/violence of all juvenile correctional facilities in the US.
With all their so-called videocameras and other measures taken to improve safety, one wonders what is going on there, and who's running the show. There is also the problem of youth-on-youth violence and staff violence at TYC facilities which has always been a greater problem than sexual abuse/violence. I don't think I'm exaggerating in saying that TYC sounds like hell on earth. Often, what is lacking is just common sense administration. All the videocameras in the world won't help if TYC continues to mix the most violent, anti-social and predatory youngsters with others of lower level of delinquency. I understand that in the recent Mart sexual abuse cases, some of their worst sex offenders were being placed in cells with other types of offenders. There is still no adequate rehabilitation program for those youngster who are amenable to rehabilitation. Rep. Jim Dunham can point all he wants to progress at TYC, but the facts speak differently. I agree with Senator Whitmire that recent problems at TYC are outrageous, and the Sunset Commission recommendations should be enacted into law, bringing TYC under new administration. How can an administration that has failed so egregriously time and again make improvements? It sounds now like TYC is being run by morons in highly subsidized jobs. Who were the ones responsible at Mart for the neglect of precautions that led to the recent sexual abuse incidents? Why are they still there?

Anonymous said...

IMO, please do not take this as bashing Adminstrators in TYC. The first problem with any agency, company is that people are people and you want always find the "perfect person" for the job.

Tyc may not need to fire all the adminstrators that are running TYC because most of them do have knowlege of how the "field" really works and understand the TYC world better than someone sitting in CO or elsewhere.

Tyc or the Legislators or who ever needs to hold each and everyone of these "top guns" accountable for the part they play in making TYC safe. Hold them accountable is something that has never been done. When you put that pressure on people they tend to not "slack off" should I say nicely on the operations of the daily grind in TYC. If they feel "protected" and can run the blame down the pole to hit someone else in the butt and not them, then as "people" they don't worry to much about the fall out from a big mess.

Put that pressure on them, loose a few and show the rest,you mean business. You will have a better run agency in the long run.

The main problem has always been this way. The poor guy on the totem pole takes the hit and the one that should have been on top of the junk in the first place stays put in their office and the crap continues to slide down, knocking this one and that one out one at a time.

Superindents should be on campus daily during school, dorms what ever is going on, should be watching and listening and talking to staff to find out what is brewing not what happened after the fact! CO should be roaming the campuses weekly to see that the operations is running right, not sitting in Austin behind a computer 24-7. Then you would have a agency that was on top of things..

Anonymous said...

anon 11:19 - I don't think that it is in anyway fair to compare TYC and TDCJ. TYC has the responsibility of supervising children, not adults. As such, they should be held to a higher standard.

A CO smuggling drugs into an adult facility to another adult is not in anyway akin to an adult in the position of authority dealing drugs to children.

I look at the posts involving TYC and I am appalled at the rationalizations and the buck passing that takes place from the people who we have entrusted with our most vurnerable youth population.

You talk about the administration. I cannot imagine that the people that are on the front lines everyday cannot make a dent in changing anything.

Organizations change both ways. From the top down and the bottem up. It is my fervent hope that one day the lot of you will find a way to meet in the middle.

Anonymous said...

11:52, You are apparently referring to the Bureau of Justice Statistics that used self-reports from juvenile justice agencies from each state in 2005-2006 and reported the totals in several categories in all states. A lazy reporter at the Dallas News pronounced Texas the leader in sexual abuse of youth, but the first page of the report specifically said the surveys "were not designed to rank systems or facilities." There's a very good reason for that: Each state has different reporting systems. They differ in scope, definitions, and documentation. TYC has a rather sophisticated Alleged Mistreatment reporting system. Do all the other states have the same? Yet, the DMN and Grits gleefully reported that Texas is "the worst." Read a PDF copy of the report at Then, get the spreadsheets and look at the footnotes. Look at the column headings and compare the terminology and the numbers. This report is useless for making comparisons between states, but it's used to bash TYC.

Anonymous said...

TYC has done a better job in enacting SB 103 and still has great strides to make to fully implement these changes. TYC just recently hired a new director, something TYC has not had for nearly two years, stability is on it's way.

The issues that plague TYC today is the inability to find permanent leadership at some of our schools and placing administrators in acting roles for over 6 months at these facilities.

I have worked at Crockett for 12 years now and have never seen in these 12 years a situation where acting leadership was placed over a facility and no decision would be made regarding this person. How can a campus have stability when the leader of the campus has no real authority based upon their acting role.

Then the next question should be, why is this person still in a acting role at a campus especially when this campus is in turmoil.

Austin needs to make a decision rather than a wait and see mentality. I for one would like permanent leadership at Crockett either what we have or someone new but lets make a decision.

Grits this issue of placing leadership either the superintendent or assistant superintendent in acting roles has created tremendous stress and instability on our campuses. This would be a great topic to explore and investigate.

Anonymous said...

Not really correct. The checks and balances are not stronger - only followed and harped on by the advocate the kid has. She is good but a f&&** pest and gets all of us in trouble. Sex with youth still go on...the prosecution only happened because of that hearing that b**&&^^ did for the kid...all was fineand Simmons would have kept hiding it - but had the kid shipped off the campus...when in fact - she informed him of all of this stuff when she deal with her kid.

Anonymous said...

8:13, all ya'll do at Crockett is whine and complain about the Administration. I bet you griped when Gomez, Freeman, Nicholson. Williams, Davis, etc was at Crockett. Go take a long hard look in the mirror and you will see the main problem with Crockett, now please shut up about Crockett and go to work.

Anonymous said...

You apparently missed the point and it had to do with CO administration not allowing permanent leadership at facilities but rather acting leadership.

If the person who is acting does not have the full support, which would have to be the case based upon the acting role, then how are they capable of leading. This is not just about Crockett but the agency and the inability to place permanent leadership at our institutions. It's been almost 4 months at our institution and the superintendent is in an acting role as of this date.

The man cannot do his job based upon the lack of leadership above him, I really do not care who becomes the superintendent, just allow us to have permanent leadership. NO one will follow a person who job is temporary, and if they do it will be short term. I hope I helped you out 9:47pm, if not read real slow out loud and maybe you can have a JCO help you if this does not work.

Anonymous said...

Your last comment didn't help your cause 10:09, so why don't you man up and get professional and keep that non-sence off the blog.

You did well until that last comment. Check yourself.

Get that negative BS out of here.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Whoa, lighten up on 8:13/10:38, Whitsfoe! 9:47 really slammed 8:13, saying he was whining. It didn't sound like whining to question the leadership in Austin that leaves a superintendent position filled on an interim basis for months on end. If you're trying to purge the string of negativity, you should have started with 9:47. (I'm not either poster, don't know anyone at Crockett, and have never set foot at Crockett. I'm just another person who hates disrespect and nonsense on the blog -- as you do.)

Anonymous said...


How many times do the star teams have to called into Crokett before someone listen's. Fires, staff assaults, kidnappings, they need to give us a leader that can lead.
Many people are getting hurt dailey and knowbody knows. Come on down and see for yourself then cast your judgement.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not about Crockett. This has become unproductive, folks. The people complaining constantly about Crockett need to start their own blog if you want to make your case because I've had enough - you're not doing it here. The anonymous character assassination - particularly the parochial, off-topic variety - simply must end.