Things have gotten so bad it's hard to wrap your brain around the massive scope of this enormous mess. TYC sounds like a hellish place to work and an even more hellish place to be incarcerated. Here are a few statistics that paint a picture of the biggest difficulties:
- Every year, 3 out of 4 TYC guards leave the agency.
- Ninety percent (90%) of newly hired TYC guards quit in the first six months.
- Guard to student ratios are presently 1-24 instead of the recommended 1-12.
- One in seven TYC employees file workers compensation claims each year, the most of any state agency.
- Juvenile Corrections Officers in Texas receive two weeks of training compared to 300 hours for guards in the adult system.
- Abuse rates by guards per 100 students more than tripled since 2002.
They could try increasing pay significantly, but that gets expensive quickly and it might not help, anyway - most TYC units are in rural areas with a limited available employment pool. It might help if the Legislature decides to convert two TYC units to adult treatment facilities and built new, smaller youth-oriented facilities closer to urban areas. But those changes can't happen overnight, and the system is failing and flailing right now.
This is a broken government agency - mismanaged from top to bottom, underfunded, understaffed and barely functioning. Kids in the system at best are merely warehoused in a dangerous setting, and at worst are abused by guards.
At this point, it might even be wise to simply "sunset" TYC out of commission entirely, though that's an unlikely outcome. If the ongoing federal probe of TYC abuses leads to major civil rights litigation by the USDoJ against the state, officials may come to wish they'd considered that option.