March 13, 2007
Today's TYC roundup

There continues to be an awful lot going on with the Texas Youth Commission and what we've learned about what was and was not done about the allegations of sexual assault against its teenage inmates. Here's a few links to keep you up to speed.

New Evidence of Altered Documents in TYC Coverup, from the Texas Observer.

A disciplinary report confirming misconduct by former West Texas State School Assistant Superintendent Ray Brookins was altered with the apparent approval of Texas Youth Commission Inspector General Ray Worsham shortly after Brookins was given a promotion, documents obtained by the Observer show.

Brookins was one of the two administrators at Pyote to have been accused of sexual assault. Worsham was suspended last Friday for allegedly redacting information from an investigative summary relating to the West Texas case. This allegation relates to an investigation in 2004.

TYC abuse cases sat collecting 'dust,' lawmaker says

A state lawmaker said Monday that the Texas Youth Commission's system for investigating abuse allegations and referring them to authorities is so inadequate that most of the cases have ended up in the records rooms of local police departments "to gather dust."

TYC says it has referred 6,600 cases of abuse and neglect to law enforcement agencies. The cases were initially investigated by civilian personnel with no law enforcement background, who then faxed notices to the records division of local police departments that the cases could not be confirmed and were closed.

Most of the cases languished in those records rooms, with no notice of their existence being given to local police investigators or district attorneys, according to 15 prosecutors who appeared before the House Corrections Committee on Monday.

Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, said TYC's system for investigating allegations of abuse and referring them to law enforcement agencies is inadequate because the agency does not use commissioned law enforcement officers "who know enough to make a case and collect evidence."

Madden said there is no way of knowing whether the thousands of cases that TYC investigated and declared closed were adequately investigated. And he said no outside investigator considered the cases because TYC sent them directly to police records departments where they were going to "gather dust."

Rep. Jessica Farrar writes about the role played by the Lege in creating these problems.

We can start by admitting that the Texas Legislature had a hand in creating a system that essentially didn't give these kids a chance to begin with and then locked them up, threw away the key, and didn't look back.

For that, legislators need to hear from their constituents. The public can help to ensure that we don't have another generation of victims by demanding that legislators act in the best interest of the state and not the ideological sectors that currently dominate Texas politics. Call on legislators to take responsibility for the role they have had in creating a system that allows children and teens to have to endure this kind of abuse. You can do this by checking your legislators' voting records and then calling, emailing, and/or writing them with your concerns. Ask them why they voted to continually take funds away from an already underfunded and overwhelmed Juvenile Probation Commission that is supposed to provide services to keep youth out of TYC facilities. Ask them why the Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) that are supposed to serve as institutions that help students that are not suitable for regular schools due to behavioral problems have virtually no state requirements or accountability and have essentially become conduits to TYC. Anyone that has ever visited or worked with one of these DAEPs can attest to the fact that these institutions lack sufficient funding, staffing, and services to even begin to facilitate a change for the better in the students they are responsible for.

Grits reports on new TYC Chair Ed Owens and on an email from Special Master Jay Kimbrough telling everyone in TYC to quit talking to the press.

Finally, Vince Leibowitz has read through the minutes of some TYC board meetings, and found that their lack of initiative goes back to at least 2004 as well. Check 'em out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 13, 2007 to Scandalized!

Just wanted to see if you'd heard that HHSC is terminating the contract with Accenture. It's on the Austin American Statesman's website.

Posted by: visitor1 on March 13, 2007 11:47 AM