Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More waiting on TYC pepper spray lawsuit outcome; Austin Chronicle piles on TYC media disapprobation

The Texas Youth Commission was back in court today over pepper spray, but hadn't yet come to an agreement with Advocacy Inc. and Texas Appleseed. Austin District Judge Gisela Triana gave the parties until Monday to come to an agreement, reported the Statesman on its blog.

Meanwhile, the Austin Chronicle has a new story out on TYC declaring there is "Little evidence of reform at state schools." The Chronicle's Richard Whittaker reports that:

While Senate Bill 103, the TYC reform bill, was crafted to protect youth inmates, it was also supposed to create a safer working environment for staff. But the changes only provided the tools for reform. Five months later, TYC is massively understaffed, with almost a third of all posts empty. "We're trying to get as many qualified people as possible into training," said TYC's director of public affairs, Jim Hurley. "We're down in numbers considerably from where we want to be, and I can't give you a hard and fast deadline. It's going to take time."

The Legislature ordered TYC to hire an additional 516 juvenile correctional officers, one for every 12 inmates, plus teaching and administrative staff. However, the money to hire them did not become available until Sept. 1, meaning TYC hadn't even hired its four new recruiting officers until Nov. 1. As of Oct. 23, TYC had 3,984 employees but 2,024 unfilled positions, including 382 of those new juvenile correctional officers. Even when those positions are filled, there may not be enough staff. The Ameri­can Correctional Association, a prison accreditation body, sets no standards for juvenile inmate-officer ratios but works facility by facility and has yet to assess the reformed centers.

The shortfall means facilities are working staff longer and harder. "You have frustrated staff, tired staff. They dread coming out there," said Love. Some, afraid of being fired if they complained, would call in sick. "You have people out there for whom this is their sole income, so they don't make waves. The call-ins are their only way of striking back." According to Love, this means some shifts at Crockett struggle on five or six corrections officers, less than half the number recommended. The new hires may not solve the problem, since they are just replacing staff who are on medical leave or quit. "It's a revolving door," Love said.

TYC employees are supposed to work a 40-hour week, with eight-hour shifts and five days on, two days off. But with staff levels so low, Love said, it's not uncommon for officers to work five 12-hour shifts and only get one day off. Staff pulled a combined 116,890 hours of overtime in February, a figure that shrank to 30,487 for September, but there's a catch. They weren't being paid for all of it. In Septem­ber alone, TYC paid out $735,933 in overtime, equal to 55% of the normal annual sum.

TYC spokesman Hurley said the cash wasn't the issue, just further reform of the system. "This wasn't about budget," he said, "but the fact that they didn't have any institutional controls in place to ensure that all the overtime being worked was necessary. Since we couldn't ensure that, we suspended paying overtime, but this is almost surely a temporary measure." He said that hours worked were still being tracked, but for Love, that's not enough. "That's my money they're earning interest on," he said.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm... I wonder if Pope was too busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and just ran out of time to finish the job? But...oh yeah, the guv let the State off at noon today, but DaPope would not let TYC off. So, she must have been working on it right???? This was the first time in about 10 years that we have not gotten off at noon.I was told it was too expensive--especially after all the mishap with the overtime. This was another real morale buster for all the die hard employees, don't you think? All state agencies off except the "kinder, gentler TYC". Did anyone hear anything else?

Anonymous said...

Its not the spray that is reducing the injuries its the increased interventions and hands off policy about restraint period that is responsible for the reduction in injuries to youth and staff the agency is experiencing. As time goes on everyone will come to learn that. Since the settlement agreement the field has realigned itself with the previous policy which was never read by new management and there has been no spike in violence or rise in injuries. Staff don't have immediate access to O.C. but are using common sense and judgement when it comes to physical force, calling for back up, using verbal intervention. this is what is responsible for the down trend not the use of chemical agent.

Anonymous said...

7:59 get used to more of the same. you can't fake concern for your employee's. anyone who fails to remove abusive, retaliatory managers must know one when they see one. A 4 hour thank you for your year long toil is a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

Interesting though, because I do believe that TDCJ was released at noon!

Anonymous said...

maybe that will get the humpster to reconsider his place of employ.

Anonymous said...

DPS,TDCJ,TYC,did not get off early.We are all 24hrs.

Anonymous said...

24 hrs doesn't have anything to do with it. employee sensitivity has everything to do with it. We were just flat out overlooked by non caring administrators who had to sit in court today so we had to on point at our posts. pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you guys didn't get off at noon today. When Dwight and Steve were in charge, they would at least let us off and we complained that we didn't know until about 2 hours before they let us off...and we thought that was bad...those were the good ole days!

Anonymous said...

Who care about the 4 Hours??? Hell I still have 12 Hours ADM, THAT I havent been able to use yet from last year as well as annual over limit and ot which seems to grow...
Didnt SB-103 Require an on duty Police Officer on Campus??? Ok where is the Officer??? Hmmm did we lie to the Legislature one more time???Reform oh yes we need an Investigation to see How many friends of these people are on the pay-roll as well as where is all of our money going too????

Anonymous said...

the certified peace officers are like every other farce that has come out of "reform". they can't fill the positions for the OIG these TDCJ folks only have so many friends (imagine that). Their talent pool is as shallow as the gene pool in "wrong turn 3". the surprising turn for me on some of this stuff is that the advocacy groups have been correct. Scott, you have been correct also on the fact that Will is a stand up guy and a champion for whats right in juvenile corrections, not just for youth but for the good staff in TYC. the groups like advocacy inc are also correct in that we should be moving towards a hands off approach to the kids in general. When security arrives and all interventions have failed, then physical force of any type should be utilized. The abusive, self serving, personal agenda, tit for tat style of management of the "humpster" and others needs to be erradicated. pronto.

Anonymous said...

It was not where or when you could use the four hours, it was the thought that counted. The thought among most was that this new adminstration does not give a damn about field staff, just themselves. Another way to boost that good morale we all have! Ha-ha

Anonymous said...

I do not think that 4 hours will make me like these people any more and I feel you also know that...And these little slips we get to sign that say we are going to loose these hours, why give something that will be taken away ,,,HA HA HA HA

Anonymous said...

If TYC were a corporation, it would have gone belly-up years ago. This is the most inefficient, inhumane(toward both youth and staff) organization. It is incredible the waste, the misuse, the "tit for tat", the hypocrisy, the inconsistency, the inappropriate and unethical behaviors that not only continue--but grow worse by the moment. Shame on the gov, the lege, the CO, and the citizens of Texas for allowing this sore continue to fester and spew puss.

Anonymous said...

Shame on the TYC employees for being too scared to go to the media and give the facts, that TYC has gone down the toilet since the TDCJers have taken over. Stand up for yourselves! You may lose a job, but you will gain freedom, and if you're lucky and they fire you for talking to the media, then you can go after them in court for getting rid of a whistleblower. From what I hear, Love is not much of a JCO, but at least he has the guts to fight back. All of the TYC staff need to FIGHT BACK...

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing negotiations are on the way to bring Mr. Kerry Cochran into our midst. I'm not sure what role he will assume if this is accurate but maybe he will control the employee abuse and save TYC from a major labor law class action suit.

Anonymous said...

Scott are you out there tonight, your thoughts?

"Chuy" said...

Why, why, why, would anyone listen to Jim Hurley?? He is just a mouthpiece for Pope. The suspension of over time has little to do with having controls in place and ensuring staff are working what they are claiming.

Why did we hire Regional Directors? Are they not in the field looking at the control measures? Could it be we are short staffed, new hires (if your lucky), staff on workers comp, staff calling in sick, and FMLA, issues?

Every Institution is allocated so much money each fiscal year to manage and this falls upon the local administration to manage. If the local Institution runs high numbers of overtime HR (in Central Office) has a weekly report where they are aware of this and a strength report to show how many staff an Institution is down, this is not rocket science.

With all of the vacant openings (FTE's) the agency still receives this money for this position, even when the positions are not filled, where is this cash going?

Once again a snow job by those in Central Office and nobody will ask the hard questions. As I sit here typing this I just cannot believe we are still in this shape after FISCAL MIS-MANAGEMENT (reason for Conservatorship).

TYC does not have a time card or card swipe system in place but it would save the state of Texas hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in time-sheet abuse. TYC still does not have a schedule that all Institutions could use, this is left up to local silo's (Ed's terminology). All of this would and could be an easy fix but why go through all the trouble, just Sunset TYC!

Anonymous said...

everyone remember to be thankful tomorrow regardless of our situation.

Anonymous said...

TYC new administration created many new positions, all kinds of regional people that add to the on going confusion. The regional folks over the institutions serve as "yes" people to Bronco's daily agenda. Their are very few facility administrators left that attempt to be fair and apply policy as intended. Bronco replaced most facilty superintendent's and assistant superintendent's with his hand pick followers. The few left with sense get abused daily in effort to run them off. Also where did this new ACA Program Specialist position at Mart I come from. I understand that it was filled with a friend of Laura Braly's (who is a yes person to Bronco)that did not have to interview but was just placed in the position.

Anonymous said...

what happened to common sense and reason, the regional concept, while corrections has 3, other departments have 5, regional managers get directed to handle affiars outside their regions. corrections directors with no institutional experience think they can reprimand and fire personnel they don't supervise (maintenance, business). What a shambles. communication at the field level is competely severed.

Anonymous said...

they reinstitued paying overtime today, a sign that complaining and championing the cause of the just and right does work. Henson said that TYC was taken by stealth and he was correct on this point. However he couldn't have possibly known that TDCJ would use our own personnel to pull the takeover. Look at the newly promoted superintendents and assistant superintendents that are now in charge and quick to violate policy and the constitution with promises of streets paved with gold. Your 15 minutes of fame is here enjoy it while it lasts.

Anonymous said...

All of the new Superintendents and Assistants that have been hired during the Pope regime (Humpster) is a farce. They do not question they just obey, regardless of the charge. We will see how long they survive once this regime moves on!

Anonymous said...

As I sit here going on my fifteenth hour, listening to the "children" snore and all comphy and tucked away on this chilly Thanksgiving morning, I ponder: If Pope were a turkey, would I stuff her ass with stuffing?

A Correctional Student said...

What we are witnessing is a total collapse of what was once a great agency.

In 1973 Stephen Sondhein wrote the song "Send in the Clowns" for the Broadway production "A Little Night Music." This song was subsequently made popular by the ever talented Judy Collins. Contained in this masterpiece are the following lyrics:

"Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother they're here."

These words aptly describe the present state of the Texas Youth Commission. There exists no apparent leadership, vision, or rational correctional policy. If the current acting administrators are allowed to continue in their positions, we will likely experience litigation that will rival Morales v. Turman.

Anonymous said...

how are we "they" to Hurley since he's been a part of the "team" for almost a year now. If in fact controls were missing, what methods did we use to determine we now have them. Nothing was sent to the field to inquire what we had nor were instructions given on what to put in place. We were given some training on shift cards which will do nothing to put man power on the floor. After 7-8 months these folks still don't now the system they are working in, they just want to plug in what they understand and say things are fixed. at 70% operational strength or less there is no such thing as managing overtime through voluntary reduction. Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Anonymous said...

Chey, you are right Jim Hurley is just a big propadganda person for the Pope regime. It's still funny how he still makes references to "they" referring to old TYC staff. The overtime issue was "they" didn't have effective systems in place to control. Isn't he a TYC employee. At what point does the current administration take responsibility for their own mismanagement and quit blaming the past administration or the remaining TYC employees hired prior to February 2007. The overtime issue has been due to the new administration lack of being able to recruit and retain employees. How can you retain staff when Bronco wants them all suspended without pay pending termination every time use of force occurs. When Pope wants to identify corrupt staff she just needs to look in her own ranks. Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Kimbrough, Owens, Pope, Hurley, Foster, Humphrey et al. have always thought of the real TYC people as a "they". They shouldn't be surprised we just wan them gone for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

6:18 a.m. With her head already there, I doubt there would be room for stuffing!!!

Anonymous said...

The regional supts are yes men for the Humpster and hit men for d'Pope. It's the TYC version of the Sopranos!! The west region one is the worst of them all!! He can lie looking right at you and not blink an eye!

Anonymous said...

"didn't have any institutional controls in place to ensure that all the overtime being worked was necessary"

Let me see if I understand this correctly; Hurley is insinuating inappropriate use of OT by employees who already have overflowing leave banks because they can't get a day off?

TYC is the same agency who had to pay out a bunch of money to multiple San Saba JCOs over a year ago because the Department of Labor found that employee complaints about the longtime practice of NOT being paid for time actually worked were credible.

The issue was that JCOs were to be at their posts not less than 15 minutes before the start of their shift, but were NOT to submit the time for payment. Training sheets were given by supervisors if employees did not comply.

Hurley expects us to believe it might be the employees who are trying to put one over on the AGENCY?

PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

After reading what Grits had to say, it seems to me that working for TYC really sucks.But you people cry,cry,cry,about everything.Are you people ever happy.

Joe

Anonymous said...

In answer to the person complaining about our new law enforcement folks. Their arrival was one of the few positives that came out of all this. Perhaps you should talk with one of them and see for yourself. I have.

Old Salty

Anonymous said...

This is for Joe, you obviously don't work for TYC or you're one of the TDCJ dummies. When you have worked or come to work at TYC with the current leadership, then you will have room to comment. In the meantime, leave TYC employess alone and keep your two cents in your pocket, if you comment was even worth that.

15+yrs with TYC.

Anonymous said...

This is for you anonymous,I'll put my 2 cents were I want to.Congrats on the 14yrs but damm why is everybody crying about everything.Another thing you people do not know everything about everybody.You know what you read and hear.Change is good if done the wright way.You have to learn how to play the game.

Joe
24 yrs TYC

Anonymous said...

Joe,

"Change is good if done the wright way."

The "wright" (Oriville and Wilbur) way would mean you fly out of here and change your attitude.

Anonymous said...

Joe your two cents worth were up a long time ago. If you haven't learned anything about TYC in your 24 years, then there is no sense in teaching you now. Give it up dude, change is right when done by a leadership that knows what they are doing. The TDCJ transplants are far from it! You are welcome to play the game, just be careful you don't get burned in the a$$ doing it! Those people are experts on "burning." Ouch!!

Anonymous said...

To old to change my attitude and another thing I,m not one of kids.

Joe

Anonymous said...

Someone should remind Hurley that "they" didn't go thru more than half (55%, I believe) of the annual overtime budget in one, and only in one month. Hurley's arrogance and blind loyaty to this criminal TYC administration is only surpassed by his phenomenal stupidity and lack of anything remotely ethical.

Anonymous said...

I see the deadline for resolution on the court case has been extended until tomorrow at noon. I doubt either side is going to budge, but I don't understand why TYC even has any leverage in this case. The issue should be how to force them to follow the initial ruling.