Thursday, February 01, 2018

Texas Ranger is new TJJD Ombudsman

There was an Ombudsman named Unruh
Who reported on bad things that staff do.
Newspapers reported
Her data exported
And so Debbie Unruh is now through.

Governor Abbott replaced TJJD Ombudsman Debbie Unruh with a retired Texas Ranger with no relevant experience, whatsoever. Reported the Houston Chronicle, "the incoming ombudsman is a former special ops commander with experience in special weapons and tactics, bomb squad, reconnaissance, crisis negotiations and border security." That background should really help when coaxing stories out of abused kids in youth lockups.

Meanwhile, Grits remains concerned about the message sent when the person who exposed many of the problems driving change at the agency is targeted for removal. I hope this new guy will do a good job, but the optics sure are bad. And if all of a sudden his reports show that problems at the agency have cleared up, will those findings be accepted as credible, or will the shoot-the-messenger circumstances surrounding his predecessor's departure make even good news something questionable? Time will tell. 

Putting a cop in the job instead of someone who's worked with kids - when the main job requirement is traveling around the state listening to kids - may work out despite the bad optics. I hope so. Certainly, I have no reason to believe the new Ombudsman is anything but a good man with the best intentions, despite the mismatched skill set. But coupled with moving troubled kids into TDCJ and uninformed comments by the new ED about raise-the-age proposals, Governor Abbott's change program still seems to this observer like it's off to a rocky start.

RELATED: A couple of editorials out this week speak to the small-government strategy that, in this writer's opinion, the Governor should adopt, following Scott Walker's lead in Wisconsin, instead of doubling down on large youth prison facilities.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Unruh have a police background?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he will be able to tell the truth from the many lies the youth tell.

Unknown said...

Another poor choice in this broken system.

Anonymous said...

Debbie was touted as a tough law enforcement type coming from a jail background. Advocacy groups across Texas were talking smack back then also about her with the fear of LE mentality causing problems and now everyone is singing her praises.

Anonymous said...

09:06 AM I agree. My dear aunt, God rest her soul, used to say.” It’s sad when you are ignorant, and you don’t know. But it is worse when you think you are smart and you don’t know you don’t know”. Her statement describes TJJD leadership and some employees from top to bottom. They can’t help themselves.