Sunday, May 06, 2012

Adult, juvie corrections took 39% of state employee reductions in last year

After the Texas Legislature finished its budget cutting last year and the dust finally settled, a whopping 39% of Texas state employee reductions in the last year came from two agencies: the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the recently merged Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).

TDCJ lost 2,035 FTEs (full-time equivalent positions), and TJJD lost 816.5, according to a recent state auditor's report (pdf). All told, according to a summary, "As of the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2012, agencies reported that they employed 147,100.4 FTEs. That was a decrease of 7,321.6 (4.7 percent) FTEs since the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2011." TDCJ's staff was reduced by 5%, TJJD's by 23%.

Of course, both these agencies suffer from high turnover among front-line staff, so relatively few of those reductions represent layoffs, particularly on the adult side. But Texas' corrections footprint declined in the last year in more ways than just from the closure of the Central Unit and lowered jail populations: Prisons and jails have gone from a reliably expanding government sector to among the first areas to be cut when Texas policymakers must prioritize in the face of tight budgets. That's a big change in political priorities from just a few short years ago.

In 2013 when legislators again face tough, arguably tougher budget choices even than last session, Texas could not conceivably focus employment reductions as heavily in corrections without closing (probably several) more prison units. For these and related reasons, Grits remains convinced that budgets will stymie the growth of the prison-industrial complex long before any brand of moral outrage might convince state leaders to reduce it.


Anonymous said...

The behavior of inmates at Giddings shows that these young men can be safely returned to their communities.

Anonymous said...

And most of the staff that stayed with TJJD should have left. You can't run an effective agency, facility, program, etc. with your unqualified, incompetent friends, relatives and sycophants. What's needed are juvenile justice professionals who actually care about helping the kids and actually have the skills to do so. Sorry, this does not include Townsend, McKeever, Smith or any of their CO cronies and their pals in the facilities. Change is what's to bottom!

former JPO said...

Glad Vicki got out before the **** hit the fan.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@5:48, the "behavior of inmates at Giddings shows" that a poorly supervised predators prey on the weak, not that most youth there can't be "safely returned to their communities." In fact, most will be.

The same kind of rhetoric was bandied about before TYC reduced its inmate numbers by 2/3, but it's worth noting that the resulting crime wave predicted by a bevy of JPO commenters here on Grits never materialized.

ckikerintulia said...

A tad off topic, but recent research shows job growth in the private sector doing pretty well. It's the public sector cutbacks killing the job market.

Anonymous said...

TYC reduced its inmate numbers but many were transferred to TDC.

Anonymous said...

History repeating "itself".

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Grits with all due respect, no matter what the TYC population number is, if those committed are not coming back a better kid something is wrong with the program.

Simple issues that should be addressed swiftly were and are not. The delay in actively stopping certain behaviors happened within TYC as they worked harder to keep these events out of the press to insure Ms. Townsend appointment, than they cared to work on fixing simple issues.

That little game allowed certain behaviors to not be addresed,now the battle to change the culture is strictly on paper and is not accepted by the staff or the kids involved. This leadership had a window to make change and blew it. They were then given a new agency to oversee but continued to fail. Not changing any of the old school employees, in reality rewarded them for past failures.

To act as if everyone from TJPC had no real skills to help address probems only showed a total lack of understanding of your problems. Not really knowing what or where to use the skills from the pool of employees you inherited again showed a lack of ability to plan.

Not wanting any new ideas from the new staff, the closures made it harder to participate in the shell game of moving problems from campus to campus and when the offenders on, they got the upper hand.

With the help of the old board chair and this new boards promise, the kids discovered they had free reign because things needed to appear to have improved.

It remains to this day a game of hide and seek with the facts. The "new" board chair still operates the old way. The NOT new leaderships still operates the old way. And Madden acts shocked that nothing has changed! To keep doing the same thing and expecting a different

It can still change, there are programs out there that help these kids. There are good staff at the remaining facilities, it just will not happen with this administration.

Anonymous said...

Grits or anyone for that matter - do you know the date that Whitmire scheduled the hearing to address the violence and the lack of leadership at the TJJD?

Anonymous said...

I keep pointing to this case. I think you all should read this because it questions the limit of tolerance of keeping these kids in the community. I know we are experiencing a wave of violent youth gang activity here in Dallas. I really don't know what the answer is but this story is worth a read and discussion. The offenders mother actually blames us for not incarcerating him.

Anonymous said...

4:53: The case you refer to in your post occurred in Tarrant County. It was the offenders Aunt who blamed the JJ system. Gang violence is on the increase across America.

Anonymous said...

VERY well said 10:58!

RAS said...

Maybe the juvie crime rate isn't going down because of TYC's success but because the kids are more afraid to be put in TYC/TJJD. Has anyone put forth a theory on why the crime rate is going down? Is it mostly a change in enforcement of drug laws?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:07, I don't think it's set yet.

RAS, it's definitely not just because people are afraid of TYC because juvie crime has dropped nationwide. Also, when we sent 2/3 fewer youth to TYC, those youth did not cause the crime rates to go up.

As for why, I'd postulate several reasons, but IMO the biggest thing might be the rise of the internet, video games and cell phones occupying a disproportionate amount of youth time. Also, the rate of juveniles with drivers licenses is going down and so kids can't travel as easily to and from crime scenes.

Some other trends that affect adults, too, come into play: Thefts are down, for example, in part because so many goods are cheaply made and not worth stealing. The nature of gangs in Texas is changing, with criminal street gangs focused less on local "turf" and more on assisting with transport and distribution of transnational drug shipments (we're a hub, not a destination, for most drugs coming into the state).

Finally, if the community based programming at counties isn't helping drive down crime, it's not hurting. Some people consider TJJD like a crime college where youth go to hone criminal skills. Perhaps having more youth avoid that fate reduces crime more than harsher punishment deters it.

Anonymous said...

House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, fumed, "For these kids to have been involved in any sort of disruptions at Giddings, which they were, and still have been eligible to be moved to a halfway house, which has less security, is stupid."

Well Geico that's your leadership, that's the management team you wanted. This act where you guys all act shocked is every kind of pathetic! Almost every incident you folks find appalling, was going on for months and to the man you ignored the stories. Absolutely nothing has changed, except you've allowed a pretty good state agency to be wiped out!

With total disregard for anything or anyone they did what they have always done, rewarded poor behavior by moving the problem to another spot. This time it's a half way house, again with disregard for the safety of an unsuspecting community. And again had you listened you ave already been told of the problems with how they use the half way houses. Guess what else plays into keeping those halfway houses full? Federal dollars!

Facility populations are down, halfway house populations somehow are pretty consistent , how? Cause it's a big funding source, screw the public, hard to pass out those inner circle raises with money!

Geico, Whitmire let you take the lead on this and it was over your head from day one. Instead of fixing a problem you tried with limited of no skill, to reinvent the wheel . This whole mess is on you !

Anonymous said...

A "Juvenile" punches a female officer in the face causing serious injury and is still moved to a "halfway house" because he "meets the criteria". He committed a felony offense! No, I cannot understand why there is no dicipline in the "juvenile" system. To the person(s) who developed the criteria: "Here's your sign"!!!!!

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

The greater the power,the more dangerous the abuse. --Edmund Burke..

The bottom line to the problem is TJJD have no Ethics...therefore, you see everything out of order.

Anonymous said...

The population of the incarcerated and those supervised in communities whether it be juvenile or adult is far too large for those managing the cases to really do a good job. The pay is too low. Because pay is too low, many quality employees aren't found. Because the pay is too low, many quality employees move on to a better paying job. Because the caseloads are too large, even the best employees are unable to make a difference. Because prosecutors, defense attorneys, and Judges are truly the ones deciding the fate of all of those arrested/charged/indicted/etc., the problem will persist because there is no real risk/need process being employed. Increase funding for corrections agencies so they may hire qualified staff. Stop incarcerating and prosecuting low level drug offenders to the degree it is a hopeless endeavor to effect change.