Texas Youth Commission

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The Texas Youth Commission (TYC) was a Texas state agency which operated juvenile corrections facilities in the state. The commission was headquartered in the Brown-Heatly Building in Austin. As of 2007 it was the second largest juvenile corrections agency in the United States, after the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.[1] As of December 1, 2011, the agency was replaced by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.[2]

History[edit]

The Gilmer-Aikin Laws in 1949 established the Texas Youth Development Council. In 1957 the state reorganized the agencies, placing the juvenile corrections system and homes for dependent and neglected children into the Texas Youth Council. In 1983 the Texas Legislature gave the agency its current name, the Texas Youth Commission.[3]

In September 2008 the TYC had 2,200 inmates, half the number it had 18 months previously.[4]

On June 3, 2011 the TYC announced that it was closing three facilities by August 31, 2011, affecting 700 employees and 400 prisoners, due to state budget cuts.[5] The governing board selected the three facilities that would close.[6] After the closings the TYC will have six secure facilities remaining.[7]

If Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, approves a piece of legislation, the TYC and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission will be merged into the Texas Juvenile Justice Department on December 1, 2011.[8] As of August 2011 the merger is on schedule.[9]

Child sexual abuse scandal[edit]

On 23 February 2007, The Texas Observer published a news story detailing allegations of child sexual abuse by staff members at the West Texas State School near Pyote.[10] Following an investigation by the Texas Rangers and the FBI in February and March 2005, two of the highest-ranking officials at the school, assistant superintendent Ray Brookins and principal John Paul Hernandez had been accused of having sexual relations with several students over an extended period.[10] On February 28 Republican Governor Rick Perry dismissed chairman Pete C. Alfaro, who had been named to the commission in 1995 by then Republican Governor George W. Bush, and called for the dismissal of acting executive director Neil Nichols.[11]

On March 2, more allegations surfaced of sexual abuse at the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Brownwood, leaving McAllen Democrat Juan Hinojosa to state that the situation at Pyote "is not an isolated incident."[12] The same day, the Austin American-Statesman reported its possession of an internal report on the sexual abuse misconduct investigations, with four extra paragraphs that were redacted in the final public version detailing involvement of several top officials in 2005.[13] Also on the same day, Gov. Rick Perry appointed Jay Kimbrough as "Special Master".[14]

As the scandal gained public attention, more allegations were uncovered. The TYC admitted that at least 10 teenage boys were victimized at the West Texas State School,[13] and newspapers reported on some 750 complaints of sexual misconduct against correctional officers and other TYC employees since January 2000.[15] TYC Inspector General Ray Worsham was later implicated in the alteration of the misconduct investigations report.[16] On 28 March, Gov. Perry appointed Kimbrough conservator of the TYC.[17]

ACLU lawsuit[edit]

On 13 June 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit, K.C. v. Nedelkoff, against the TYC on behalf of five girls and "all girls and young women who are now or in the future will be confined in Brownwood State School".[18][19] The ACLU charged that girls were "regularly placed in punitive solitary confinement," that "[u]pon entering or exiting solitary confinement and on other occasions when they have not left the facility - for example, when they finish a work assignment within the prison - girls are subject to invasive strip searches. When girls resist, guards regularly use physical force, pepper spray, handcuffs and leather straps to force them to comply," and that the "treatment the girls have suffered violates their constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments" as well as articles 3, 19, 23, 34, 37, and 39 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[20]

In an official press release, Conservator Nedelkoff responded to the lawsuit saying he was "disappointed" and that he "look[s] forward to working with the ACLU, along with our Texas advocacy partners, to address all concerns mentioned in this lawsuit," and Ombudsman Will Harrell stated that he was also "disappointed" and that "most of the allegations mentioned are being addressed."[21] Deputy Commissioner for Programs and Treatment Dianne Gadow, ultimately responsible for Youth Rights,[22] made no comment on the matter.

Operations[edit]

In Texas a juvenile offender is a person who is at least 10 years of age but has not yet turned 17 while he or she has committed an act referred to as "delinquent conduct" (an act that, if committed by an adult, would result in confinement in a jail or imprisonment) or "conduct in need of supervision" or a "CINS violation" (an act that refers to conduct that, if committed by an adult, would result in a fine, or conduct that may only be committed by children such as truancy). If a juvenile received an "adjudication," it is a finding that the juvenile committed "delinquent conduct" or a "CINS violation," equivalent to a conviction in an adult court system. Among the possible outcomes for youth adjudicated for "delinquent conduct" is being sent to a TYC institution.[23]

Juvenile court judges sentence youth offenders to the custody of the TYC. Most offenders receive indeterminate sentences, meaning there is no set end date to the sentences. The commission defines a minimum stay, between 9 and 24 months, for each offender with an indeterminate sentence, and the prisoner may be released from custody depending on his or her participation in the program. The child may stay in TYC custody until reaching 19 years of age. Some courts set specific sentences for TYC offenders; the sentences may be up to 40 years. If TYC officials determine that the offender satisfactorily completed the TYC program while in TYC custody, the offender may serve the rest of his or her court-defined sentence while on adult parole instead of serving time in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) adult prison.[24] A child who has been committed to the TYC system on or before June 7, 2007 may be held by the agency until he or she becomes 21 years old.[25] Offenders with determinate sentences occupy about 20% of the slots at high restriction facilities.[26]

Upon admittance to the TYC system, offenders undergo orientation and are placed in assessment units before being sent to their final assignments.[24] Boys are sent to the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in unincorporated McLennan County, near Mart.[24][27][28] Girls are sent to the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood.[24] The Marlin Orientation and Assessment Unit, located in Marlin,[29] served as the place of orientation for children of both sexes being committed into TYC from the facility's opening in 1995 to its transfer out of TYC in 2007.[30][31] In the 1960s TYC's reception center for boys was in Gatesville and its reception center for girls was in Brownwood.[32]

TYC offenders may use the internet while working on certain projects for school; they are never allowed to access e-mail accounts and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.[33]

Demographics of offenders[edit]

In the fiscal year of 2009, of the children incarcerated at TYC facilities, 48% of new arrivals had committed violent offenses. Of the population, 91% were male and 9% were female. 45% were Hispanic, 40% were African-American, and 20% were White. According to the TYC, 43% of the inmates admitted to being members of gangs during intake. 16 was the median age of commitment.[34]

Of the children with known citizenships who were in secure facilities, in halfway houses, in contract programs, and on parole, 3,925 (93.68%) were Citizens of the United States. 224 (5.35%) were citizens of Mexico. Other countries represented included Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam.[35]

Facilities[edit]

The Turman Halfway House in Austin

At the time of its closure, the TYC operated correctional institutions and halfway houses.[36]

Institutions:

  • Corsicana Residential Treatment Center - Corsicana
    • The center is for youth with mental illnesses or severe emotional disturbances[37]
  • Evins Regional Juvenile Center - unincorporated Hidalgo County
  • Gainesville State School - unincorporated Cooke County
  • Giddings State School - unincorporated Lee County
  • Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex (Unit I) - Formerly Brownwood State School[38] - Brownwood
    • A public road separates Units I and the former II, which operated independently from Unit I.[39] The facility is named after former TYC director Ron Jackson.[40] The renaming ceremony was held in Unit II on Tuesday, September 16, 2003.[41] Ron Jackson II closed by August 31, 2011.[5]
    • Unit I houses the gateway program for females entering the TYC system. Most females in TYC remain at Ron Jackson SJCC I. Some girls may be placed in the WINGS mother-child and pregnant girl program and contract facilities. Unit I has been a female-only complex since it opened in September 1970.[42]
    • Unit II was for male offenders who violated the terms of their juvenile paroles. In May 1970 Unit II opened as a reception center for girls.[39] In 2007 TYC announced that it planned to convert Unit II into a female unit to avoid complications between boys and girls.[43]
  • McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility (Unit I and Unit II) - unincorporated McLennan County, near Mart[24][27][28]
    • As of 2011 units I and II were combined into one facility.[5] The TYC governing board's original agenda had plans to close both McLennan County units, but the board changed its plans.[44] The units are about 20 miles (32 km) south of Waco.[45]

Halfway houses:

  • Ayres House
  • Beto House
  • Cottrell House
  • McFadden Ranch
  • Schaeffer House
  • Edna Tamayo House
  • Turman House
  • Willoughby House
  • York House

Former facilities[edit]

In 1974 federal judge William Wayne Justice ruled on Morales v. Turman. He ordered the Texas Youth Council to close the Gatesville State School and the Mountain View State School and to redesign the agency's juvenile corrections system.[46] The Mountain View school closed in 1975,[47] and the Gatesville school closed in 1979.[46]

The Sheffield Boot Camp, which opened in 1995, closed on March 31, 2008.[30] The West Texas State School in unincorporated Ward County closed in 2010.[48][49] The West Texas State School and the Victory Field Correctional Academy in unincorporated Wilbarger County will officially close by August 31, 2010.[27]

The following former TYC facilities were transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ):

  • J.W. Hamilton Jr. State School (Bryan) - Opened in 1997, transferred on June 15, 2003,[30] now the Hamilton Unit.[50]
    • Hamilton was originally an adult prison facility. It was renovated for juveniles and reopened in mid-1997.[51]
  • Marlin Orientation & Assessment Unit (Marlin) - Opened in 1995, transferred on August 31, 2007,[30] now the Marlin Unit.[52]
  • John Shero State Juvenile Correctional Facility, formerly San Saba State School (unincorporated San Saba County)[53]) - Opened in 1996, transferred on August 31, 2007,[30] now the San Saba Unit.[54]

The Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, located in unincorporated Coke County, south of Bronte,[38] was a 200-bed secure facility operated by the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp.) and contracted by the TYC. Originally designed for girls, it was changed into an all boy facility in 1998.[55] In 2006, 19-year old Robert Schulze, an inmate incarcerated at Coke who had earlier said that he felt unsafe at the facility, hanged himself in his cell.[56] In 2007, after the TYC inspected the facility, the TYC moved the approximately 200 youth it contracted to the center out of the Coke County facility and caused it to close.[57] During the life of the Coke County facility, Wackenhut received criticism from the media for how it operated the center.[58]

The following closed in 2011:

  • Crockett State School - Crockett
    • Was to be closed by August 31, 2011[5]
  • Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex Unit II - Formerly Brownwood State School Unit II[38] - Brownwood
  • Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility - unincorporated Jefferson County,[48] in the Mid County area.[59]
    • Originally the Jefferson County State School (JCSS),[60] Al Price opened in August 1995, with the first 14 delinquents arriving on the 14th of that month. The second phase was completed in March 1997.[61] The state school received its current name on October 5, 2001.[62] Joe Deshotel, a State Representative from Beaumont, proposed renaming the facility after former Texas politician Al Price.[63] Price will close by August 31, 2011.[5] When it closed, it had 130 prisoners and 270 employees.[6]
    • Al Price was the closest juvenile correctional facility to the City of Houston.[64]

Contract placements[edit]

As of 2010 the Texas Youth Commission contracted with 12 third party facilities for contract placement:[65]

Special programs[edit]

The TYC includes the Mother-Baby Program, which cares for teenage mothers and their children. The 76th Texas Legislature passed the Senate Bill 1607, a bill written by state senator John Whitmire and co-sponsored by state representative Ray Allen, in 1999, establishing the Mother-Baby Program. The Women In Need of Greater Strengths (WINGS) program is located near Marion, north of San Antonio. The facilities can house 14 mothers and their children.[66]

Girls at the Ron Jackson youth facility may participate in the Pairing Achievement With Service (PAWS) program; in the program girls take care of dogs from local animal shelters.[67] The girls research the dog breeds and write autobiographies and community success plans for their dogs.[68]

Headquarters[edit]

TYC headquarters, Brown-Heatly Building, Austin

The Texas Youth Commission is headquartered in the Brown-Heatly Building in Austin.[27][48] Brown-Heatley, a seven story, 276,000 square feet (25,600 m2), has a six story, 343,000 square feet (31,900 m2) parking garage. Brown-Heatley, in addition to being the headquarters of TYC, also serves as the headquarters of another state agency.[69]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Moore, Solomon. "Troubles Mount Within Texas Youth Detention Agency." The New York Times. October 16, 2007. Retrieved on July 5, 2010.
  2. ^ Home page. (Archive) Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on April 28, 2012.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of the Texas Youth Commission." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  4. ^ Sandberg, Lisa. "Bureaucratic ranks flourish at TYC." Houston Chronicle. September 7, 2008. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e "TYC Announces Closure of Three Facilities." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Youth lockup to close." The Beaumont Enterprise. June 4, 2011. Retrieved on September 29, 2011.
  7. ^ "TYC Parents Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Facility Closures." Texas Youth Commission. June 17, 2011. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Mitch. "Concerns raised over merger of Texas' juvenile justice agencies." Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Thursday May 19, 2011. Retrieved on September 23, 2011.
  9. ^ Ward, Mike. "Texas closing prison as part of cutbacks." Killeen Daily Herald. Wednesday August 3, 2011. Retrieved on September 30, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Blakeslee, Nate (23 February 2007), Hidden in Plain Sight, The Texas Observer 
  11. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (28 February 2007), Citing Abuses, Texas Governor Ousts Leader of Youth Agency, New York Times 
  12. ^ Swanson, Doug (2 March 2007), Sex abuse alleged at 2nd youth jail, Dallas Morning News 
  13. ^ a b Ward, Mike (2 March 2007), TYC report was altered, American-Statesman 
  14. ^ Ward, Mike (3 March 2007), Governor appoints a special master over TYC, American-Statesman 
  15. ^ Swanson, Doug (6 March 2007), TYC sex allegations exceed 750, Dallas Morning News 
  16. ^ Blakeslee, Nate (11 March 2007), New Evidence of Altered Documents in TYC Coverup, The Texas Observer 
  17. ^ Ward, Mike (29 March 2007), Governor appoints conservator, American-Statesman 
  18. ^ "ACLU Challenges Solitary Confinement And Unwarranted Strip Searches Of Girls Held In Texas Youth Prison" (Press release). American Civil Liberties Union. 12 June 2008. 
  19. ^ K.C. v. Nedelkoff - Plaintiffs' Motion For Class Certification And Memorandum In Support Of Motion For Class Certification
  20. ^ K.C. v. Nedelkoff - Class Action Complaint For Declaratory And Injunctive Relief
  21. ^ "TYC Statements Regarding ACLU Lawsuit" (Press release). Texas Youth Commission. 12 June 2008. 
  22. ^ "Texas Youth Commission Organizational Chart". Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved 13 June 2008. 
  23. ^ "Overview of the Juvenile Justice System in Texas." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  24. ^ a b c d e "How Offenders Move Through TYC." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  25. ^ "Where Will My Child Go & For How Long?." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  26. ^ "Sentenced Offenders." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on June 24, 2010.
  27. ^ a b c d "Facility Address List." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on July 19, 2010.
  28. ^ a b "Mart city, Texas." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  29. ^ "Facility Address List." Texas Youth Commission. November 10, 2001. Retrieved on June 24, 2010.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Secure TYC Facilities by Opening Date." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  31. ^ "How Offenders Move Through TYC." Texas Youth Commission. November 10, 2001. Retrieved on June 24, 2010.
  32. ^ "Texas Youth Commission: An Inventory of Morales Case Files at the Texas State Archives, 1949-1990, undated (bulk 1969-1989)." Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  33. ^ "Looking Ahead: Taking Responsibility & Defining Your Future." Texas Youth Commission. 7. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  34. ^ "Who Are TYC Offenders?" Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
  35. ^ "TYC Population with Known Citizenship." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
  36. ^ "TYC Facilities." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  37. ^ "Corsicana Residential Treatment Center." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on June 16, 2010.
  38. ^ a b c "Facility Address List." Texas Youth Commission. February 2, 2002. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  39. ^ a b "Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex Unit II." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on June 16, 2010.
  40. ^ "Brownwood complex renamed for Ron Jackson." Texas Youth Commission. September 17, 2003. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  41. ^ "Event to Rename Brownwood State School for Ron Jackson." Texas Youth Commission. September 12, 2003. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  42. ^ "Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex Unit I." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on June 16, 2010.
  43. ^ Levesque, Sidney. "Brownwood TYC center to be female-only unit." Abilene Reporter News. May 25, 2007. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  44. ^ "Texas Youth Commission to consolidate Mart facility." KCEN. June 3, 2011. Retrieved on August 29, 2011.
  45. ^ "TYC to close three units, cut staff." KXAN. Friday June 3, 2011. Retrieved on September 29, 2011.
  46. ^ a b "Gatesville State School for Boys." Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
  47. ^ "Mountain View School for Boys." Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
  48. ^ a b c "TYC Contact Names and Phone Numbers." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on March 10, 2009.
  49. ^ "TYC Facility in Pyote Officially Closes Their Doors." Newswest 9. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
  50. ^ "Hamilton Unit." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  51. ^ "11 TEENS ESCAPE JUVENILE CENTER; 6 STILL MISSING." Chicago Tribune. December 13, 1998. Retrieved on August 22, 2010. "Hamilton State School a former adult prison was renovated for juvenile offenders and reopened in mid1997."
  52. ^ "Marlin Unit." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  53. ^ "Facilities by Opening Date." Texas Youth Commission. June 12, 2007. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  54. ^ "San Saba Unit." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  55. ^ "Coke County Juvenile Justice Center Audit." (PDF version) Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on July 5, 2010.
  56. ^ Langsford, Terri. "14-year-old hangs himself at Crockett youth lockup." Houston Chronicle. March 18, 2009. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  57. ^ Hughes, Polly Ross and Clay Robison. "Houston legislator launches probe of prison contractor." Houston Chronicle. October 5, 2007. Retrieved on July 5, 2010.
  58. ^ "Locked Inside A Nightmare." 60 Minutes. May 2000. Retrieved on July 5, 2010.
  59. ^ Moore, Amy. "Al Price one of three juvenile facilities to close." The Beaumont Enterprise. Friday June 3, 2011. Retrieved on February 28, 2012.
  60. ^ "Jefferson County State School." Texas Youth Commission. September 19, 2000. Retrieved on August 21, 2010.
  61. ^ "Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on August 21, 2010.
  62. ^ "State School in Beaumont Renamed for Al Price." Texas Youth Commission. October 5, 2001. Retrieved on July 6, 2010.
  63. ^ Zarazua, Jeorge. "Deshotel thinks there's something in a name." The Beaumont Enterprise. February 16, 2001. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  64. ^ Knight, Paul. "Texas' Youth Prisons Among The Worst For Sexual Abuse, Study Finds." Houston Press. Wednesday January 13, 2010. Retrieved on July 16, 2010. "And at the closest youth prison to Houston, the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Beaumont,"
  65. ^ "Residential Placements." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on September 30, 2010.
  66. ^ "TYC Mother-Baby Program." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on June 16, 2010.
  67. ^ "Pairing Achievement With Service (PAWS)." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on August 8, 2010.
  68. ^ "Pairing Achievement With Service." Texas Youth Commission. Retrieved on August 8, 2010.
  69. ^ "State of Texas Brown Heatly Building." DSG Austin. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]