#123 Nov 10, 2007
THE DAILY TEXAN online
Serving the University of Texas since 1900
Who's the real crook ?
Looking for a job? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is hiring. You can take a test on the department's Web site to see if you qualify for a prison guard post, which pays $23,046 per year. Duties include "squatting and bending to conduct 'pat' and 'strip' searches of offenders, restraining and securing sometimes assaultive offenders, maintaining security of assigned areas involving long periods of sitting and standing, climbing stairs and ladders to reach assigned areas and working at heights."
It's mystifying that anyone would want to work for the state's criminal justice department or the Texas Youth Commission these days, and that the department recruits via the Internet in the hopes of getting e-passersby to take on one of the most unappealing jobs in this country. More appalling is that the state slipped the building of two new prisons and a new Youth Commission facility into Proposition 4, which passed as a $1 billion amendment associated more with park maintenance than anything else. If we can't keep our prisons staffed, we surely don't need to build new ones.
Maybe TDCJ should try a role reversal, replacing those at the top of the heap. Let's put the high-ranking state officials responsible for enacting prison reform in jail and let the barely-paid prison guards do their political heavy lifting. One would hope, having seen the bottom of the departmental barrels, that those in the criminal justice department would approach filling positions of such power with more concern, as they don't seem to care much about the people in their system - employees and prisoners alike. It's easy to brush off prisoners and their keepers as societal misfits - they have hurt us, in some way or another, so why should we help them? But the fact of the matter is many of these prisoners will be released, and a bad experience in prison could build more resentment of society.
read entire opinion piece here: http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/s...
#124 Nov 12, 2007
From The Dallas Morning News:
" A Fix Closer to Home: Wiser spending can help TYC get house in order
09:53 AM CST on Sunday, November 11, 2007
The Texas Youth Commission's multi-pronged mission includes instilling discipline and accountability in its juvenile inmates, along with a healthy dose of rehabilitation and societal re-entry.
In short, we expect the TYC to take juvenile lawbreakers and send back as many functioning, productive citizens as possible.
As you have read in The Dallas Morning News and elsewhere, it's not going so well. The TYC's inability to keep its own staff in line has been well chronicled, with special emphasis on the sexual and physical abuse of kids in custody. And last Sunday, we learned that TYC is failing miserably at educating them, too.
One temptation is to call for a top-to-bottom reorganization of TYC, a demand that the state tear down this rotting house and start over.
Yet reality intrudes. If Texas were a bottomless pit of tax dollars, perhaps throwing a few hundred million more at the problem might help. It isn't, of course, and smart people won't say that's even necessary.
Ask Rep. Jerry Madden of Plano, Sen. John Whitmire of Houston or Mike Thompson, director of the Council of State Government's Justice Center. Each, in his own way, would tell you that Texas' biggest juvenile justice issue isn't how much it spends, but how it spends.
It might surprise you to learn that only about 4 percent of our state's juvenile offenders end up in youth prison. Where Texas falls short is in the diversion, counseling and prevention programs that can cut short a criminal future.
And it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that three out of four youth prison inmates, warehoused in small towns far from home, eventually end up in the adult prison system. "
read more here: http://www.dallasnews.com
#125 Nov 12, 2007
" Does Governor Perry Have Something to Hide ?
a public records activist in another state wants to see our governor's e-mails.
John Washburn lives in Wisconsin and says Governor Perry's policy to only hold onto e-mail correspondence for seven days got his attention.
He's says it would interest him to know how much the governor knew about the Texas Youth Commission scandal and when. "
read more here: http://www.590klbj.com/News/Story.aspx...
#126 Nov 14, 2007
Bush e-mail policy still the rule in governor's office
BY JAY ROOT
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
AUSTIN -- The White House has been ordered to preserve e-mails over fears that vital records have been destroyed, but an electronic purge policy approved years ago by George W. Bush is still in effect at the Texas governor's office, officials said Tuesday.
And Bush's successor in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, sees no reason not to retain it indefinitely.
"We kept Bush's policy. This started under him as far as we know," Perry spokesman Robert Black said. "I wouldn't see why there needs to be a change."
Critics say the Bush-era policy of deleting office e-mail once a week undermines the principles of government openness. Black stressed that steps are being taken to ensure that important public records are printed or saved electronically, but he said the governor's e-mail policies adhere to state sunshine laws and cut down on electronic clutter.
Perry's office defended the policy a day after a federal judge ordered the White House to preserve e-mail records in response to two lawsuits over the possible destruction of electronic documents.
Possibly millions of White House e-mails from 2003 to 2005 have gone missing, and open-government advocates are seeking to preserve backup copies. U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy sided with the plaintiffs and issued a temporary restraining order Monday requiring the White House to hold onto its e-mails. Meredith Fuchs, a top attorney for the National Security Archive at George Washington University, one of the groups that sued, said Bush's old state policy is in keeping with what she sees as a hostile approach to government transparency at the White House.
"This administration seems really to care more about secrecy and less about historical records," she said.
The Texas e-mail policy was issued in 1999 while Bush was governor. The written directive states that e-mail "messages and attachments that have been opened will automatically be deleted after seven (7) calendar days."
E-mail whacking in Perry's office came to light this year when allegations of wrongdoing began to surface at the troubled Texas Youth Commission. When asked by the Austin American-Statesman in March why a top Perry aide did not have an electronic copy of a report about alleged sexual abuse at the agency, Black said the document had not been kept -- and he noted that the governor's office deletes e-mail after seven days.
More recently, open-records advocate John Washburn of Milwaukee challenged the auto-delete policy by programming his computer to send two open-records requests a week for all government e-mail generated by Perry's office.
read entire article here: http://www.star-telegram.com
#127 Nov 16, 2007
Nov. 16, 2007, 2:24PM
TYC contract to ex-state official draws scrutiny
DALLAS The embattled Texas Youth Commission awarded a no-bid contract following its legislative-ordered overhaul to a former state official targeted by earlier ethics inquiries, according to a newspaper report.
Gregg Phillips, a former top deputy with the state Health and Human Services Commission, has been investigated in Texas and Mississippi over allegations of cronyism in contract awards. The inquiries did not produce criminal charges or sanctions.
His company, AutoGov, received a $275,000 contract to overhaul the youth agency's inmate classification system. The contract bypassed standard procurement rules and the legislative funding contract, The Dallas Morning News reported in its Friday editions.
Jay Kimbrough, who was appointed conservator of the scandal-wracked agency by Gov. Rick Perry, insisted the deal wasn't rooted in favoritism.
"It doesn't matter to me if Gregg Phillips was on the grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas, if he has a solution that is good for the youth of TYC," Kimbrough said.
Watchdog groups, however, said they found it puzzling that the agency would do business with Phillips given the allegations in his past.
"This is an agency that was desperate to restore public confidence," said Andrew Wheat, research director of Texans for Public Justice. "And I don't know that Gregg Phillips is the man for the job."
read entire report here: http://www.chron.com
#128 Nov 28, 2007
#129 Dec 8, 2007
"The TYC Mafia" ?
#130 Dec 15, 2007
"Governor: Please come back from the campaign trail and fix TYC!"
#131 Dec 16, 2007
Dec. 16, 2007, 9:13AM
Improvement at TYC seen as 'minute'
DALLAS About 10 months after scandal rocked the troubled Texas Youth Commission, the pace of reforms that were supposed to straighten out the agency remains in question.
New programs were ordered by the Legislature, along with new managers. But Jon Halt says the commission still has a big problem: "They still treat kids like dirt."
Halt, whose teenage son was sexually assaulted by another inmate in a state juvenile prison, belongs to a watchdog group formed by other inmate families after this year's scandal.
"If there's any improvement at TYC, it's very minute, as far as I can see," he said in Sunday editions of The Dallas Morning News.
The official assessment is far more positive. "I'm going to say excellent," said Dimitria Pope, TYC's acting executive director, when asked to gauge the agency's progress.
February reports by The News and the Web site of The Texas Observer revealed that officials at a West Texas youth prison had been accused of sexually abusing inmates.
Continued revelations this year produced one outrage after another, including youth beatings, lax medical care and a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers. Legislation passed in May was supposed to address the problems.
To some extent, the legislation did fix problems: "We probably don't have management raping kids now," said Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
Madden, who sponsored the reform bill, cited several other benefits: Youths who commit misdemeanors are no longer sent to TYC. Also, an independent ombudsman has hired staff, new guards are getting more training.
Meanwhile, a stronger internal investigations unit has pursued dozens of cases of TYC employee misconduct.
"I'm beginning to have a little confidence that improvements are being made," he said. "But we need to see results."
But some believe the state juvenile prison system is locked into an outmoded model based on punishment dealt from large, remote prisons.
"The way they're going, a correctional model, is a dead loser," said Dr. Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. "That's not going to get them anyplace. It's never gotten anyone anyplace, except court."
Krisberg was part of a TYC-appointed task force that produced a report that the agency rejected this year. The task force advocated a "home-like environment" for inmates, among other things.
"The question is," he said, "is Texas going to tolerate being the embarrassment of the nation on this?"
Inmate abuse allegations have risen, staffing shortages persist and the controversy remains over the use of pepper spray on juveniles.
read more here: http://www.chron.com
#132 Dec 20, 2007
Dec. 19, 2007, 9:57PM
Former Bush aide chosen to lead troubled TYC
AUSTIN Gov. Rick Perry named a former aide to President Bush as the new conservator of the troubled Texas Youth Commission on Wednesday.
Richard Nedelkoff, a former Texas criminal justice director under then-Gov. George W. Bush, is set to take over the agency immediately.
"Impeccable leadership by conservators of TYC has helped Texas make great strides in righting a very troubled agency," said Perry. "Richard's experience and expertise in juvenile and criminal justice make him the right person to finish the job at TYC."
read more here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropoli...
#133 Feb 10, 2008
"The problems in TYC are rooted in policies enacted by then Gov. Bush. It was his bright idea to get tough on juvenile crime without paying for the increase in staff and facilities that would obviously be needed. This was followed by a head-in-the-sand attitude by Gov. Perry and the Legislature. They knew everything about the problems in TYC, but decided to cover it up until after the 2004 elections. Ill say that again: Rick Perry and (more so) the Texas Legislature covered up abuse of children (and allowed it to continue) in order to insure their own reelection. Blaming just TYC is missing the root cause of the problem."
source of above comment to Editorial:
Disorder at TYC must stop, for kids sake
By The Editorial Board | Saturday, February 9, 2008, 06:07 PM
#134 Feb 12, 2008
Girl to get early release from troubled Texas juvenile prison
By Howard Witt | Tribune correspondent
2:09 PM CST, February 12, 2008
HOUSTON - Quietly closing another case in the long-running sex-abuse scandal inside Texas youth prisons, state officials have reversed themselves and decided to grant early release to a 16-year-old girl from the small east Texas town of Paris who attempted suicide after she was allegedly molested by a male guard.
The girl's mother confirmed Tuesday that officials of the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood, Texas, have written her with instructions to come to the prison on Friday to take her daughter home, four months ahead of her scheduled release date.
The emotionally-troubled teenager, whose story was reported in several Tribune articles last year, was sent to the youth prison in October, 2006, after twice violating her probation for arson for burning down her family's house. She was originally due to have been released in December, 2007, but prison authorities extended her term by six months after she knocked down a guard who was trying to restrain her after interrupting the girl's attempt to commit suicide.
The girl and her family maintained that her despondency and suicide attempt were the result of the repeated incidents of sexual molestation and intimidation she allegedly suffered at the hands of the guard, and the refusal of prison authorities to believe her allegations. But until their recent turnabout, officials of the Texas Youth Commission had refused to regard the girl's status as a sex assault victim as a mitigating factor in her case.
The guard, Jaime Segura, was indicted in December on four counts of molesting the Paris girl, who was 14 at the time of the alleged incidents. Segura had previously been charged with sexually assaulting four other female inmates at the Brownwood facility and was one of dozens of guards accused of abusing inmates in youth prisons across the state last year. Revelations about that abuse led to wide-ranging reforms inside the Texas Youth Commission, the state's juvenile corrections agency, and the early release of hundreds of youthful inmates.
read more here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworl...
#135 Feb 13, 2008
TYC youth to be released Friday
By Mary Madewell
The Paris News
Published February 13, 2008
The best present a mother could receive comes the day after Valentines Day when she picks up her daughter from a Texas Youth Commission facility in Brownswood.
The girl, publicly thrust into the Texas Youth Commission saga for being allegedly molested in custody, is to be released Friday morning after spending more than 15 months in the youth prison.
A prison guard, Jaime Segura, 30, faces two felony counts of indecency with a child and two counts of official oppression stemming from documents and witness statements relating to the Paris youth.
We plan to drive down Thursday night and be there bright and early as soon as they let her go, the mother said late Tuesday. She, her husband and two other siblings plan to make the trip.
She has been wrung through the wringer down there because of the things she has gone through, the mother said.
read more here: http://web.theparisnews.com
#136 Feb 29, 2008
Texas Youth Commission to close West Texas boot camp
10:33 PM CST on Thursday, February 28, 2008
From staff reports
The Texas Youth Commission will close its Sheffield Boot Camp because it could not recruit enough people to work at the isolated West Texas facility.
TYC officials said Thursday that the boot camp, which is about 95 miles south of Midland, will be shut down on March 31. The agency will transfer Sheffield's juveniles to other TYC units.
The budgeted population at the boot camp is 80, but it had dropped to 17 because of staff shortages.
TYC officials have said the boot camp's remote location makes finding staff difficult. Also, the revival of the West Texas oil industry has absorbed much of the local workforce.
read more here: http://www.dallasnews.com
#137 Mar 10, 2008
Oversight, indeed: Perry rewards aide
By The Editorial Board | Friday, March 7, 2008, 05:25 PM
Gov. Rick Perry has arranged to have one of his budget aides, Alfonso Royal, named chief of staff of the Texas Youth Commission. Its an odd appointment given that, despite his position on the governors staff at the time, Royal had little or nothing to do with uncovering last years scandal at the commission.
Royal was one of several gubernatorial aides who oversee various state agencies, acting as the governors eyes and ears. One of his agencies was the Texas Youth Commission.
In late October 2006, Royal was given graphic reports of sexual abuse by two administrators at a commission facility, the West Texas State School in Pyote. The two men had left the school, but they remained free, and the Texas Ranger who had investigated the abuse had been trying for a year to get the local prosecutor to act. A legislative aide who learned of the Rangers frustration told Royal of the problem on Oct. 30.
Records indicate that over the next month, Royal spent 12Â½ minutes on seven phone calls to the local prosecutor and the Ranger about the case. Just this week, a spokesman for the governor said Royal did all that could be expected, especially given that the two administrators already had left.
But the governors eyes and ears apparently were blind and deaf to the depth of rot at the commission hinted at by the Rangers reports. Or maybe Royal did not want to disturb the governor in the last days of his political campaign before that years election, on Nov. 7, against Chris Bell, a Democrat, and two high-profile independents, Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman.(Perry won, with 39 percent of the vote.)
At any rate, when the reports of sexual abuse of inmates and other problems at the commission finally broke statewide in February 2007, Perry said the first he knew of the Rangers frustration in getting the cases prosecuted was when he read a story in The Dallas Morning News.
News of just how bad things were at the Youth Commission - abuse of inmates, the hiring of guards and supervisors with questionable records in their own past, internal efforts to hush up reports of abuse - exploded, thanks to the media and the fact that the Legislature happened to be in session.
The six-member Youth Commission was forced to resign, the executive director suddenly retired, and the Legislature, despite Perrys reluctance, insisted that the agency be taken over by a specially empowered conservator.
Jay Kimbrough, the first conservator (there have been two more since) issued a report last May summing up the damage:Thus far, 11 TYC employees have been arrested, including two former TYC officials from a West Texas facility after a grand jury returned indictments against them. Twelve senior executives and three facility superintendents have been fired or have resigned.
But Royal had seen nothing, heard nothing, reported nothing to the governor.
The governor, however, is pleased with Royals performance, said a spokesman. And its not just talk: Royals salary has jumped from the $70,000 a year he was paid on the governors staff to $109,950 a year at the Youth Commission.
It doesnt make sense to us.
read more here: http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared...
#138 Sep 26, 2008
Lawmaker: Youths' safety in TYC care not guaranteed
By LISA SANDBERG Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Sept. 25, 2008, 10:28PM
AUSTIN A co-chair of a joint legislative committee overseeing the Texas Youth Commission said Thursday he questioned whether the state's juvenile correctional agency was a safe place for juveniles, following an internal report indicating that scores of mistreatment allegations may have been closed without proper investigation over the past 14 months.
"I personally cannot guarantee any judge or parent that their kid is not going to be abused," said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.
Demanding answers, Whitmire said he's summoned the agency's top brass to a public hearing next week to respond to the damning findings contained in a report issued Wednesday by the agency's youth advocate, Will Harrell.
"I want very specific documentation, no cover-ups, no smoothing things over," continued Whitmire. "Do I have confidence in the current administration? No. Do I have confidence in the current dynamics of this agency? No."
On Wednesday, Harrell released a 12-page report identifying 85 cases of alleged abuse and neglect that according to the agency's own records were closed without being investigated by law enforcement or agency administrators.
Another 88 recently closed abuse and neglect cases were investigated by law enforcement but not by agency administrators, as policy dictates, the report states.
Harrell said he found cases in which abuse allegations were assigned to the alleged perpetrator to investigate. Other cases were left in limbo after being assigned to staff who had been transferred to other departments and not notified, or to people who no longer worked for the agency.
The report examined cases stretching back over 14 months. That encompasses the period during which TYC underwent a reorganization the Legislature ordered following a sex abuse scandal that nearly ripped the agency apart.
For months in early 2007, national and state news reports carried accounts of incarcerated youths allegedly being sexually and sometimes physically abused by staff at lockups around the state with central office administrators doing little to rein in the apparent abuses.
read more here: http://www.chron.com
#139 Sep 26, 2008
Conaway to host Bush on Oct. 2
#140 Oct 2, 2008
No surprise at the mess within the State of Texas and The TYC when our twice elected Republican Governor, Rick Perry, appears to speak in forked tongue (see below)!
Rick Perry plays both sides on rescue plan
#141 Oct 17, 2008
Youth commission pays for empty facility
© 2008 The Associated Press
Oct. 17, 2008, 9:55AM
EAGLE LAKE, Texas A new prison for teenage offenders sat empty for three months while the state paid more than $20,000 day to a company hired to run the facility, according to a newspaper report.
The Texas Youth Commission agreed to pay for empty beds to cover the startup costs of the company, Youth Services International, the Austin American-Statesman reported in its online edition Friday. At more than $22,500 a day, the state paid $1.26 million for the empty prison about 60 miles west of Houston.
TYC and company officials defended the contract, insisting that the payments were proper and appropriate.
"There are two ways to cover startup costs: pay upfront or pay higher rates," said Cherie Townsend, the Youth Commission's executive commissioner newly appointed by Perry.
Gov. Rick Perry's office and legislative leaders strongly disagree.
"Taxpayers should not be paying for goods and services they don't receive. And we shouldn't be paying for the startup costs," said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle.
"This is absolutely outrageous. Somebody ought to be investigating this and heads ought to be rolling," said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the criminal justice committee.
read more here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/606...
Perry names Jay Kimbrough as chief of staff
© 2008 The Associated Press
Oct. 16, 2008, 2:43PM
AUSTIN Gov. Rick Perry has picked Jay Kimbrough, a deputy chancellor at Texas A&M University and former aide to Attorney General Greg Abbott, to be his new chief of staff.
Kimbrough, a former deputy attorney general and conservator of the Texas Youth Commission, is a decorated Vietnam veteran and Dallas native who also served as Bee County judge.
#142 Oct 18, 2008
dont you realize you are the only dumbass that posts on half of these topics?
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