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Privatization Produces Bottom Feeders, Youthful Offenders Are Unwilling Canaries in Scandals Coming Out

Ruth's picture

I am happy to announce that massive misdealings in the Texas Youth Commission which horribly abused Texas youth have been uncovered and are being corrected. A compilation of the serial crimes against emprisoned youths at the Dallas Morning News begins as far back as January of this year, when reports of abuse of youths came in in video form.

In February, the reports began to be published. Reports had been received by Governor Perry's office since 2004 and not acted on. GEO Group is a private prison contractor and is now being questioned about other facilities and their problems.

Private contractors are being given a lot of former government functions and like Blackwater showing a seriously seamy side to privatization. Texas is infamous for contracts with private firms, including its lottery and toll road imbroglios. A really bad record has been amassed.

In cold bureaucratic language, the official reports describe lurid acts: High-ranking officials at an isolated state juvenile prison were molesting young male inmates.

Many prison staffers at the West Texas State School complained about the abuse to their immediate bosses and to officials in Austin, the reports say. But, for more than a year, no one in charge did anything to stop it. Evidence was ignored or covered up. Two years after a Texas Rangers investigation concluded, no one has been prosecuted.

Some former employees say similar problems afflict many prisons run by the Texas Youth Commission, whose official mission is to "fix broken children."

"The TYC has established a dynasty of corruption that condones the mistreatment of youth in its care," said Randal Chance, a retired inspector general for the agency. "Staff are being paid your tax money to rape your children."

TYC Executive Director Dwight Harris said agency officials were stunned when they learned, in 2005, that the Texas Rangers had substantiated charges of abuse at the Pyote facility.

"Quite frankly, it was a shock and a surprise to us that this could ever happen," Mr. Harris said.

But a TYC internal investigation, "Summary Report for Administrative Review," released last week to The Dallas Morning News, said that a West Texas caseworker raised the issue in a letter to Mr. Harris five months before the Rangers' investigation.

Later came more reports of the longterm abuse.

"Issues of fear and intimidation are present throughout TYC," said a report by the state auditor's office released Friday. More than 40 percent of staffers at youth prisons said they were afraid of retaliation if they complained about co-workers or supervisors, a survey by the auditor's office found.

Through the publicity, which you can read through if you have a strong stomach, hundreds of prisoners were released.

TYC's newly installed management had freed more than 100 inmates by the end of the day Friday, part of its efforts to purge and clean up the troubled agency. Spokesman Jim Hurley said 473 juveniles will have been released within days to family members or guardians.

Until this week, TYC held about 4,700 inmates, ages 10 to 21. Most are repeat offenders who engaged in property crimes, although TYC also holds those who committed rape, kidnapping and murder.
Mr. Rodriguez spent more than two years at TYC for multiple burglaries of homes. The News highlighted his case in a story last month about physical abuse of TYC inmates.

He was badly beaten in September by a gang of four inmates while guards for his dorm were not at their station. The two guards were later fired.

Today we hear that another facility is being condemned for deplorable conditions.

The Texas Youth Commission's ombudsman said Wednesday that at least one other juvenile prison, Victory Field in Vernon, should be closed because of poor conditions.

"If I were king, I'd shut it down today," ombudsman Will Harrell said. "It's an incredibly violent campus. ... There's just this sense of fear and intimidation."

Mr. Harrell, who functions as an independent youth advocate within TYC, made his remarks outside a special meeting of the House Corrections Committee. During the hearing, he told committee members that Victory Field was the TYC prison most similar to the squalid Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, a privately run unit in West Texas.

TYC moved nearly 200 inmates out of the Coke County prison this month, citing "deplorable conditions" such as feces on the floor and insects in the food, and canceled its operating contract with GEO Group Inc.
In a report issued this week, Mr. Owens said the "blending of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government" has "had a negative impact on the effective implementation of reform initiatives." [Emphasis added.]

There you have it. The reports were made, the abuses were known, nothing was done.

Privatization uses your funds and skips the controls/regulations/enforcement side of government contracts. It is showing up the for-profit hobbling of government for the systematic abuse of trust that it is. TYC is an instance of youths who suffered for the GoPerv ideal of letting corporate greed take over from legitimate government responsibility. This diving for the bottom line is subhuman, for bottom feeders only.

(This post also at )

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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

TYC is ruinous, and Texas mental health services are even worse.

It's part of the "no new taxes" garbage, and I blame the Republicans.

It's a simple fact: the kids who end up in TYC (or CPS custody) are the kids who are likely to end up in the Army when they turn 18 -- that is to say, not the children of the people who, by virtue of finance, really matter.

I know some people who work on behalf of and with the kids in TYC (as part of my old job in public health; I also know some of the people who do correctional medicine for adults). I admire the people who try to help these kids; it's the supervisors who are scum, and create an ecosystem in which scummery is rewarded, encouraged, protected, while honest work is anything but.

If anybody ever takes a hard enough look at "foster care," "mental health," and "correctional facilities" in this country to do any good, it will make Blackwater in Iraq look like schoolboys at a church picnic.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

Even those old folks who spent their lives supporting services are not getting any care, even when you report abuses. I've tried that, too. And this contracting out public service reeks. Like Walter Reed, good and caring people are being replaced with parttimers who aren't trained and are unhappy with hard work, no benefits, and pitiful pay scale. It's the GoPervs for sure, on the cheap for their own while pouring money all over their wars. Maybe bottom feeding isn't low enuff.