Monday, March 20, 2006

Juvenile Justice

Texas capitol reporter Elizabeth Pierson's articles about abuse of juveniles by Texas Youth Commission officers have the South Texas blogosphere buzzing.
  • Rio Grande Politics gave a heads up a couple of weeks ago that the series was in the works. Today the blog wonders, "who in fact is the criminal"?
  • South Texas Chisme asks, "Must a guard thump Johnny on the head to feel safe?"
  • Over at A Capitol Blog, state Rep. Aaron Peña says, "Texans should demand more in the care of our young .... We can not simply take the 'throw away the keys' attitude that many have regarding our adult [prison] populations."
Pierson covers state government in Austin for the Brownsville Herald, The Monitor and the Valley Morning Star. Her stories on the Texas Youth Commission document the doubling of abuse rates at TYC facilities in 2004. The articles include:
  • Little Boys, Big Time: "Rates of physical abuse in TYC have increased steadily for at least seven years. By 2005, three of every 100 detainees were abused by the employees who watch over them."
  • Guards on the Defensive: "Juvenile inmates are becoming more aggressive and injuring guards with greater frequency, Texas Youth Commission employees and union representatives say."
  • Trouble at Evins: "Leadership is new, and abuses have dwindled, but Edinburg’s juvenile prison is still recovering from a rash of beatings and altercations with juvenile prisoners in late 2004."
  • No Warm Welcome: "TYC investigators have confirmed physical abuse against youth by employees at the Marlin Orientation and Assessment Unit 62 times since 1999, more than any other TYC facility."
  • Elected officials express concern: "Already the House and Senate committees that oversee the TYC are investigating abuse in the agency, in part because of a string of abuses at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg in late 2004."

BACKGROUND: A TYC investigation confirmed cases of abuse at Evins in January 2005, prompting a legislative investigation. Advocates claimed the abuse problem extended statewide, and one mother spoke of her son's abuse that resulted in eight guards getting suspended. Two months later, the TYC director acknowledged there was a lack of oversight at the facility. Last fall, parents of three kids at Evins filed a lawsuit claiming abuse last year. Workers at Evins, on the other hand, say they're not safe while on the job.

3 Comments:

Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

The juvenile justice system needs to be revamped slightly. In the past, bad kids were sent to tyc and would eventually get released into society a little better that their exit. Now we have kids who kill with impunity, call it the mtv/rap generation that has ruined many kids, not to mention one parent homes,welfare ,etc. Hell who wants to work in a facility with many young criminals for $8.00 an hour? You? At that rate what kind of correctional officer will you attract? Not many with degrees for sure .I'm not saying to throw money at it, just to get realistic about this situation. These "kids" are handled with kid gloves (no pun intended) than when they ned to be restrained , thay can't be "touched" . Can anyone show me how to restain a wild out of control, violent "kid", without contact ? Society also needs to realize that MANY of these kids will NEVER adjust to social norms and are just gonna graduate to bigger crimes and eventually the state penetentiary . Thats just the way it is . Trust me on this .

6:36 AM  
Blogger Strange Bedfellows said...

So you blame MTV and hip hop for these kids' problems with the law? What about 30 years ago when MTV and hip hop didn't exist? TYC was still operating at capacity then, so who's to blame? I believe that some of these kids will reform while others won't, but if we as a society and a state give up now like you have, then we're just playing out a self-fulfilling prophecy.

9:25 AM  
Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

These kids have been given up on ALREADY. Where are the fathers? At home still , with mommy? Unemployed? High? Look around you there strange fellow! Graffiti,drugs, gangs ,gang fashions, tyc was never in the dire straits it is now . I know I 've worked in the system. Society has ignored this already . WE have no responsibilities anymore. Welfare fills in the "parents" gap with freebies like free apartments, free cable, free food at school. Nowadays we don't need parents anymore, the gubmint will do that for you ,too. Get real "homeboy". Self fullfilled prophecy? Juvenile crime Apocolypse has passed us.

4:35 PM  

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