It takes a big, humble man or woman to apologize for a wrong.
This apology is necessary in order to preserve the integrity of truth in the Movement. The best thing United States Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales can do, before they force him to resign, is to safeguard the civil and human rights of incarcerated children- not just in Texas, but the US.
If radio talk show host Imus is truly contrite and apologetic for calling Rutger’s basketball girls “nappy headed ‘hoes”, then I should be more apologetic for calling Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “blind and incompetent."
Contrary to what I said in a earlier communication, Representative Jerry Madden, chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, brought to my attention that Alberto R. Gonzales was not the Texas Attorney General at the time of the sex scandal inside the Texas Youth Commission juvenile lockups. Rather, Gonzales was, by then, US Attorney General- a fact I should have noted by the date of the Texas Rangers investigation.
Rep. Jerry Madden, District 67
Madden insists that I owe the Attorney R. General an apology, which I agree is warranted. Gonzales could not have been held responsible for dropping the ball in the TYC investigation at the state level. My error is putting Gonzales in two places at once, based on a misreading of the following report:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, both already under siege for other matters, are now being accused of failing to prosecute officers of the Texas Youth Commission after a Texas Ranger investigation documented that guards and administrators were sexually abusing the institution's teenage boy inmates. Jerome R. Corsi, World Net Daily
The thread connecting Gonzales to the TYC scandal is tenuous at best. Corsi wrote:
In the Texas Youth Commission scandal, Texas Ranger official Burzynski received a July 28, 2005, letter from Bill Baumann, assistant U.S. attorney in Sutton's office, declining prosecution on the argument that under 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the government would have to demonstrate that the boys subjected to sexual abuse sustained "bodily injury." Baumann wrote that, "As you know, our interviews of the victims revealed that none sustained 'bodily injury.'" World Net
Although Gonzales was, US Attorney General when the decision was made, this is hardly a "direct connect" to Gonzales at the US Justice Department. I presupposed that the AG had seen the investigation report as a state official and that he refused to prosecute the subjects under federal Civil Rights laws at the Justice Department.
Let me assure all, that this error was neither partisan nor personal, but part of my continual insistence that the US Justice Department should have done more to save these juveniles. What stuck in my craw was this quote from US Attorney Baumann’s letter:
"As you know, consent is frequently an issue in sexual assault cases. Although none of the victims admit that they consented to the sexual contact, none resisted or voiced any objection to the conduct. Several of the victims suggested that they were simply 'getting off' on the school administrator." [Baumann]
Blaming the victim for being complicit in him or her own assault clouds the whole Justice Department Civil Rights Division. After reviewing the Texas Rangers 100-page investigation report where some juveniles clearly testified about “feeling uneasy” when prison officials made homosexual advances toward them, it is abhorrent to suggest that the kids were willing subjects when they complied with prison officials to perform sexual favors. The U.S. Attorney ignores that these are TYC officials in uniform, with state authority to extend or reduce time served by these youngsters. Yet, he denies that they operated in “official capacity”.
On Sept. 27, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division declined prosecution in a letter written to Lemuel Harrison, the Texas Youth Commission superintendent at the West Texas State School ... In that letter, Justice Department section chief Albert Moskowitz wrote that "evidence does not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes." Corsi
The Texas Rangers investigation report was conveyed to numerous law-enforcement officials, on a local, state, and national level, and that this information was shared with TYC board members and other top officials. The gravity of the offense should have been apparent when it was discovered that prison officials were sharing pornography movies and magazines and sex toys with these incarcerated minors. If nothing else, they should have recognized that sharing these objects and enticements, and showing preferential treatment to those minors who complied with officials’ perverse sexual wishes, that these children were being morally corrupted under the color of law.
To turn a blind eye to these offenses would be to ignore the law altogether. And yet, when it comes to prosecution, they throw the book at the kids and turn around and let the fox escape the henhouse without incrimination. No! Justice in Texas is not even-handed.
When Texas Ranger Burzynski testified before the House and Senate Joint Committee investigating the TYC scandal, he described the fear in the eyes of the youth who shared their stories with him, know that they could be retaliated against and punished even further, just for talking. But Burzynski promised that the Texas Rangers would not fail them. However, he probably did not realize it would take two years just to get someone higher up to listen.
If the youth who received preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors were willing lodge complaints, they would not have been fearful to reveal their secret trysts to Burzynki. What the Justice Department failed to acknowledge was: (1) These were underage minors who, by law, could give willing consent to sex with an adult; (2) They were powerless to resist any encroachment upon their person by prison authorities, (because, after all, who knows if a strip search is a legitimate security function or for the purpose of sexual gratification?) and (3) Sexual abuse and neglect were so widespread in TYC that the entire Texas juvenile criminal justice system is tainted by corruption that exceeds unconstitutionality.
Therefore, it was, I insist, a crime against humanity of such magnitude that it does not fit neatly inside the federal cracker box of definitions.
When a crime against humanity is judged a misdemeanor by federal standards and only a third degree felon by state standards, the system of justice is terribly imbalanced. Texas can give a kid up to seven years for shoving a hall monitor, but we cannot prosecute sexual enslavement by incarceration and official oppression. What is wrong with this picture?
As for the 400+ youth now being released from TYC, there is a time and need for healing and readjustment. Nevertheless, there are hawks overhead, watching every move, waiting for them to slip, just to prove their doomsday prophecy that these kids will reengage in crime and go back to prison. And, I am quiet sure there are some who would give them a nice little shove toward more self-destruction. We find ourselves, therefore, at cross-purpose trying to help these children get resettled and better adjusted, on the one hand, and trying to perpetuate a public myth that these are dangerous and incorrigible criminals.
For those youth who did not win their freedom this round, they may still be faced with climbing the impossible mountain: Phase 4. This is the latest scheme in behavior modification therapy, the results of which have demonstrated a high return on recidivism and perpetuation and extension of a self-serving TYC prison system.
As for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, he has problems enough on his own, from allowing his underlings to take charge of important decision-making and then getting out front to serve as spokesman for those decisions. I am convinced now that the TYC sex abuse scandal was never brought to his direct attention, that underlings handled what appeared to them to be minor misdemeanors.
However, now he should be aware of the situation. If Governor Perry’s appointed conservator cannot fix the system, the Justice Department should be aware of its power to put the system into receivership because it cannot operate legally and constitutionally.
Eddie G. Griffin (BASG), Crossroads Research
Fort Worth, TX