Sunday, May 31, 2009

Odds and Ends

Here are a few odds and ends that would likely become full posts in their own right if I had more bandwidth to focus on the blog today:

End of an era
As of tomorrow, Americans must present a passport to cross the Mexican and Canadian borders. For my entire lifetime, a driver's license and a declaration of citizenship have sufficed.

Legal ethics and other oxymorons
Mark Bennett takes notable exception to ethics instruction by Williamson County DA John Bradley in the wake of a recent Supreme Court case on the right to counsel. Bradley advises that a recent Supreme Court opinion voids a longstanding Texas disciplinary rule barring prosecutors from approving contact by police with a defendant who is represented by counsel ("taking a run" at a suspect, in the parlance) without notifying their lawyer. Bennett says those who take Bradley's advice are putting their bar card at risk, though I've seen little evidence the State Bar of Texas aggressively pursues misconduct allegations against prosecutors.

A tribute
See an excellent profile of Louis A. Bedford, Dallas' first black judge, on the occasion of the publication of a new biography. Dallas DA Craig Watkins, the first black man to hold the position, says Bedford was a lifelong role model for him.

A "coordinated effort" to "eradicate" businesses
In a tanking economy, it's odd to see officials boasting that "a coordinated effort among state, city and neighborhood leaders, Dallas communities are beginning to see many of those businesses eradicated. " The rules are different, I guess, and the desire for economic growth dampened, when we're talking about sexually oriented businesses.

Final deal reached on TYC funding
The agency will undergo Sunset review again in two years.

A radical approach on graffiti
Buenos Aires has eliminated laws against graffiti, with surprisingly positive results. See this excellent report from ABC News:

There are no specific laws banning graffiti in the capitol, unless it is contains ethnic or racial slurs, ABC News producer Joe Goldman in Buenos Aires reported.

"One could paint a wall of a police station without having any problem in Buenos Aires," Goldman added.

Bonnie and Clyde 75 years hence
Last weekend was the 75th anniversary of the death of Bonnie and Clyde, two Texans whose larcenous exploits became larger than life in the repeated retelling until they became national anti-establishment icons upon their death. The FBI released a bunch of new information on the couple in commemoration of the anniversary and a couple of new books on the topic have been published. Like John Dillinger, whose exploits about the same time will be chronicled in a major motion picture this summer, Bonnie and Clyde posed a problem the justice system of the day couldn't solve; both were gunned down in cold blood by what were essentially government assassins, a fact which probably contributes significantly to the popular appeal of both the Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde legends.


Anonymous said...

I would like to know which tyc co was supposedly laid off.

Anonymous said...


Former Hays County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Peach said she believes in playing by the rules.

“It’s about honesty and fairness,” Peach said late last week. “As a prosecutor, we have the upper hand in every case. We have an investigation that’s been done by a police agency. We have resources. We have access to witnesses. The rule of law, I guess, favors us, though the defendant has some rights. Realizing that, we have a code of ethics, and the code of ethics charges prosecutors with a higher duty … We don’t have to break the rules to get convictions. Getting convictions isn’t what it’s about. It’s about fair play. Do people get away with crimes? Yes, every single day. But, our system is set up to protect people.”

Anonymous said...

Whoa whoa whoa.

I don't think your comment on the businesses being closed is accurate.

The businesses we're talking about deal in sex trafficking, mostly Asian, some minor.
As the article to which you linked states, some of the crimes committed by these businesses were having a 12-yr old stripper, and two runnaways, aged 14 and 15, working as prostitutes in a "massage" parlor.

I have no problem closing those kinds of "businesses".

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What wasn't accurate about my comment, exactly, 8:11? I don't think I said anything that contradicts what you wrote. You mention three examples involving minors, but the article says we're talking about dozens of businesses including "massage parlors" and "tanning salons."

It's one thing to oppose human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors - on that we agree - but that's FAR different from the complaint that "the headquarters for the Boy Scouts of America had clear views of the businesses that promoted relaxation, massages, [and] sensual body baths," none of which are presumably illegal.

Anonymous said...

Grits that article does deal with closing down massage parlors, bath houses, and the like that are fronts for prostitutes. It should be pointed out though that there is just as much going on to attempt shut downs of adult oriented businesses that are fully within the law. The bill they were attempting to pass for the stupid 10% ax against strip clubs was designed to run the ones that were within the law to shut their doors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If they're fronts for prostitutes, 8:21, there are plenty of laws on the books for that. They don't need to continuously pass "git-tuff" measures aimed at already illegal activity. If Dallas police weren't busy generating revenue from traffic tickets they might have time to enforce the existing laws.

Your point about the strip-club fee IMO strikes closer to the root of this issue: There is a concerted effort underway in some quarters to ban or restrict ALL sexual and adult-oriented businesses, just like Shanda Perkins wanted to chase away the dildo saleswoman in Johnson County. Egregious cases (like the child prostitution examples) are always cited as justification, but inevitably such politicized campaigns reach much more broadly just affecting overtly criminal activity.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to give up on TYC. They broke it, as an agency. They broke the employees, as a team. They broke the treatment program, as rehabilitative. Now it's babysitting demons. Watch them but don't correct them. Keep them safe but you can't protect yourself.

Anonymous said...

We have enough laws. Anything and everything in Texas that should be criminal is and there are lot of things that should not be that are. There are so many laws that criminalize everything that in some cases there are multiple charges that can be filed for the same thing.

At the same time, how many "fixes" did the legislature pass to handle wrongful convictions? 1?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what person or persons are responsible for the things going on at ron jackson, I live in brownwood and was told this weekend that some of the inmates are going on a retreat with the girl scouts at lake brownwood !!!! man who thought that one out? and is this approved by the judge that sentenced them to club med in Brownwood, also they are getting WIs oh man now thats just what I voted on at the last election is to give Inmates Vacations and Wis LOL Hey people we need to get this stopped and I mean fast I thought that when a person was convicted of a crime they did time and thats all ...Boy times have changed Huhhhhhhhh
If the information is correct and i sure hope its not that means we are letting convicted felon Females have a sleep over with the Kids who are not in trouble with the Law. I betif this is true you can save some of that money that they waste on this to pay thier employees better ,, Ya Think!!!
Also do the male Inmates get to go out with the Boy Scouts for a sleep over ??????? I hope this is wrong but my dealings in the past with TYC has always been really stupid .......
If this is true we can actually say we are all Raped by the State

diogenes said...

Yes, Brownwood has Girl Scouts. Four troops if memory serves, because of how Girl Scout troops are organized (each age group is a separate troop). I don't know anything about outings so I can't comment there.

Mart recently established a Boy Scout troop. I haven't heard about them doing any outings yet.

Once upon a time (1970s, I think)Gainesville had a Boy Scout troop as well.

I see no difference between these programs and previously existing programs such as football and other athletic teams. If properly done they can go a long way towards helping these youths find a way to be a part of society instead of destroying it.

Funny thing, though: Randy Chance recommended in the same book you mention that TYC take the youths out fishing and etc. to help them get over their criminal ways. Have you read his book, or are you just upset about the paradigm shift changing the balance between punishment and treatment and using the title to get attention?

Anonymous said...

we wouldn't want the poor little girl criminals to have opportunities to engage in constructive behavior and learn to interact appropriately with nondelinquent peers now would we?

Especially since isolating delinquent youth from prosocial peers has consistently been shown to increase delinquency.

No. That would make too much sense.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone given any thought to what this CoNEXTions program really means for TYC? Is this just another way to loose control and take another wrong turn? Am I wrong or does it seems that we have decided to distort our view of these young men and put them and ourselves at risk? What are the risks of taking this turn? Are we loosing control of our campuses?

Anonymous said...

The problems with CoNEXTions are multiple. For one, Resocialization, which worked, was tossed out before any replacement program was substituted. Second, CoNEXTions was instituted piecemeal, and the training for staff, particularly JCOs and Casemanagers was woefully deficient. Finally, CoNEXTions is not really an integrated program at all, but a mish-mash of things to do with incarcerated kids. Add to this the fact that we have some people in high places who are making some really outrageously stupid decisions, and you have the mess that TYC is currently in. I really believe that our political handlers used the scandal in West Texas to achieve their long-term aims, which was to do away with TYC and incorporate juvy programs into TDCJ in order to save precious taxpayer money. They have set TYC up for failure. Item: Superintendents are now being asked to give back JCO positions at the very time that they are also being pressured to cut out overtime. How is that supposed to work?
All we need now is a few truly horrendous events and the justification for closing TYC and locking the kids all up in TDCJ will be there for those who want that outcome.

Anonymous said...

TYC employees who really care about what happens with kids need to stop fighting among themselves and work to ally themselves with parents. Parents, if you don't want your kids sent to TDCJ, stop fighting TYC and work with TYC to help make the programs work. I guarantee you that when you child is sent to TDCJ, there will be no one there who will listen to your complaints. At least you have a chance with TYC.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have not read the Book but the title sounded like what we tax payers are going through at this time! When a youth commits a crime they should be sentenced and taken out of society and loose privlages not given privlages. I think what I was told was true about the sleep over with the local children at the Lake.
I think the thing that really bothers me is that the Employees that are getting laid off so our tax dollars are wasted on gifts and fun events for these youth ....

diogenes said...

The last I remember, each facility was allocated $500 a month for the privelege system. The rest, including the scout programs, are supported by volunteers and donations. Statewide, that amount will make account for maybe 2-3 FTEs

Positions aren't being cut because of the priveleges, they are being cut because of politics.

Of course, if we just send all juveniles to TDCJ for the rest of their life instead of trying to work with them, we won't have to pay for anything or anyone in TYC.

CoNextions may not be the best program available, but it's what we have. Given a chance it might even work for the most part once everybody understands it and uses it properly (which will take time), and if it is fully funded (meaning the lege has to decide what they want and what they are willing to pay for). Otherwise it'll go the same way as Resocialization, for the same reasons.

If you're going to quote Chance's book (or even just the title), try reading it first.

Anonymous said...

I think it’s fascinating how Clyde was obsessed with “getting back” at the cruel and inhuman system we call Texas Justice with his raid on Eastham. I don’t remember this in the Warren Beatty movie. I also think the attitude of the Texas Justice system of being above the law in the cold blooded due process murder of Clyde and Bonnie is an example of the historical growth of the above the law abuse inmates suffer today in that system.

So as some of you have said regarding tyc having just one more incident that could shut it down. The way kids are treated in that culture breads the authority issues that made Clyde obsessed with a raid on the prison to kill as many guards as his gang could for the abuses they perpetrated against the inmates. I don’t believe Clyde was in Gatesville (tyc) but his partners like Fults and Hamilton who were influential on Clyde were. All it will take is a kid calling a Geronimo or whatever the code is among tyc inmates today to call to riot and take out as many jco’s as they can while destroying as much state property as they can. If tyc cant contain it they can’t cover it up and warehousing troubled teens in Texas will be done by TDCJ. I remember reading something said about the time of the Morales v turdman case that accredited the inmates in Gatesville for bringing the attention of the abuses that the FBI, Texas Rangers, the Attorneys, and the Politicians could not do.
Hopefully it won’t take a Geronimo to have people take note of the overwhelming risk factor the social effects of tyc’s culture has on our society and our tax dollars.

Sheldon tyc#47333 II c/s