The probation officer responsible for monitoring how Harris County juveniles are treated at Texas Youth Commission facilities said Monday that some youths have been waiting as long as 18 months to get into a sex offender program or have been released without taking part in it.
She also said that about a third of Harris County youths who have been prescribed drugs to curb hyperactivity or treat mental illness have not been receiving proper medication at TYC facilities.
Susan Moynahan cited her findings Monday in defense of her job as the county's TYC review officer.
Harris County officials are considering whether to make her post permanent and assign two more employees to work with her.
Dick Raycraft, county budget officer and director of management services, said Commissioners Court may raise questions about whether Moynahan's services duplicate the efforts of the TYC ombudsman, a newly created post whose duties include investigating complaints from detainees and their families.
Reform efforts included appointing Will Harrell, a longtime prisoner-rights champion who led the American Civil Liberties Union's chapter in Texas for seven years, to serve as TYC ombudsman. He said he does not want to see Moynahan go.
"Her role is very important and will be for some time," he said. "It will take awhile to implement some of the legislative reforms."
State district Judge Pat Shelton, one of the county's three juvenile court jurists, said Moynahan is needed to ensure that county youths sent to TYC lockups are not mistreated.
"Sometimes you need redundancy in the process. It may not meet an accounting standard," he said. "Raycraft sounds like an insurance adjuster who's reluctant to write a check. But we need somebody who can get their nose under the tent at TYC."
Moynahan spends more than half her time traveling to TYC facilities, where she said she tries to meet with each Harris County detainee.
Until Moynahan visited facilities, Shelton said he and other juvenile court judges were unaware that many youths sentenced to Giddings were not getting needed sex offender treatment, Shelton said.
"Given what's happened in the past, how can we trust TYC to do its job?" he said.
On a related note, you may recall that the TYC apparently started a process to outsource care of 10 to 13 year old inmates, without any real public notice of their intent. According to Grits, who confirmed this via email with the reporter, the Dallas Morning News says that RFP has been cancelled, at least for now. Let's hope that if it ever does come up again, there will be an opportunity for some actual input from the public about it.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 01, 2007 to Crime and Punishment