Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Facility age, design, and programming deficit hinder success of youthful offenders at TDCJ

Over at The Back Gate, a blog run by TDCJ corrections officers, staff at the Clemens unit have many critiques of the Youthful Offender Program - which houses Texas youth certified as adults - that didn't show up in Mike Ward's recent Austin Statesman article promoting adult correction models for juvenile offenders. Said the blog:
What Mike Ward didn't get is input from some of the 300 plus employees assigned there regarding the program. Several Correctional Officers sent us input on the program, and how it works. The employees don't bad mouth the administration, and are generally satisfied with the support they get from the admin there. The objections from line staff centered more around the structure of the program itself, and the fact that it was centered on the Clemens unit to begin with. Through open records, and from Correctional Officers assigned there, we have learned the following. Some of which is contrary to what Mr. Ward presented in his story.

1. The Clemens unit is #1 in the state this month for discovery of contraband items, to include cell phones.

2. The Clemens unit, built in 1893, and the add on housing areas in 1972, is basically falling apart from the inside out in the South Texas salt air. Violent YOP offenders are housed in cells that frequently come open on their own due to being outdated and un-repairable, and staff as well as other offenders have been assaulted as a result.

3. YOP offenders must be kept separate from other offenders, and the design of the facility makes it nearly impossible to accomplish that feat on a daily basis.

4. YOP offenders are not assigned jobs, and therefore do not work in outdoor hoe squads or garden squads as stated by Mike Ward. But maybe some labor wouldn't hurt.

5. The program itself is poorly constructed and doesn't take into account that many of these teens have long (40+) year sentences and are housed with offenders serving 5 years or less. Any teen will succumb to peer pressure. The teens come from the streets, many are prone to violence and have no concept of the programs content. Many are continuing disciplinary problems, but cannot be sent anywhere else in the state due to the nature of the program. 
See also a slideshow of pics from the Youthful Offender program that accompanied Ward's article Monday, and Grits' own discussion of the suggestion to model youth prisons after TDCJ's Youthful Offender Program.


Anonymous said...

Why not give Mart I (open bay) and II (all single cells)to TDCJ? There is a fence that seperates Unit I and II so that addresses the seperation from the adult problem. Then we could re-open Crockett for the Mart I population.

It sounds to me that TDCJ wants nothing to do with these violent offenders because they are as difficult in the adult system as they are in the juvenile system.

Anonymous said...

I work at the facility and i agree. No one wants them here. The program stinks and the offenders laugh it all off. Gangs flourish within the program, and the weak are assaulted, extorted and intimidated. Staff assaults are high in dealing with these youths and there has already been several riots. TDCJ does nothing to stop it. The unit is truly falling down. The windows are rusted out, the cells falling apart, and cells are not equipped for housing these types of offenders. The TDCJ brass had been here twice since 1996 that i know of to see it, and when they do the unit admin clean it up for them for the day they spend there. Then its right back to the same old tune. There needs to be a program for them, maybe a boot camp program. Something that teaches values and respect. Most of these kids have none. They dont work, and the classes they take are a joke. So something has to give. As it is now, the Clemens unit is a powder keg waiting to blow at any time.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

Clemens has been the graduate school for Gatesville boys for as far back as the 50’s. I think it was an all black farm before so it’s always been a poorly constructed shit hole like Riverside is at the Crain unit. Any kid who had tyc experience was going to go to Clemens. It was only natural to house the YOP program there. But I thought the YOP is a special program for first offenders that can’t cut it on the gladiator farm like Fergusson was who housed kids their own age or old football players.