Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Texas Youth Commission Reform Passes

Texas Youth Commission Reform Bill Moves to Governor’s Desk

The Texas Legislature closed out its 80th session in a whirlwind of activities, among bitter and angry bickering, down to the midnight wire. As a result, some legislative proposals died on the operating table. Of the 10,854 proposals presented this session, only 5,023 passed, most during the waning hours of the deadline. Fortunately, the main series of Texas Youth Commission (TYC) bills won approval of both Houses before the logjam.

In a May 26 email from Jerry Madden, House Corrections Committee Chairman, He writes:

There is nothing in the TYC Bill that builds any prisons. We do have in the Appropriations act that 2 facilities, Marlin and San Saba will be turned over to TDCJ and so will not be used for incarcerating youth. We also expect that there will be added closings of facilities by TYC probably 2 or 3 units. We do have in Appropriations money to build one new unit close to a metropolitan area so that we can keep youth closer to home. I think that is a good idea and we would not have to house them in old worn out facilities that in some cases may not be safe; We have a lot more money for integration and juvenile probation to try to keep youth from being sent to TYC...We also have all the funding we requested for our diversion beds which will have a major positive effect on our communities. While there is still more to do we have come a long way in a short time this session.

At last, some of our juveniles are coming home from prison. Also, the legislators have put in place a safeguard to prevent youth offender with misdemeanor offenses from being incarcerated like Shaquanda Cotton, the 14-year old high school student locked away for up to seven years of her life for pushing a teacher’s aide. Cotton was among the first of 473 juveniles released, after it was discovered that she had been held past her sentence for a minor institutional infraction- to wit, possession of a contraband extra pair of socks.

TYC came under sharp criticism after it was discovered that high level administrators were coercing the children into sex- in some cases, by threatening their loss of freedom. When the scandal first came to light, there was a hurried response to cover the situation up. But a brave Texas Ranger, who originally investigated the allegation, persisted until he found justice.

Governor Rick Perry appointed a conservator Jay Kimbrough to get to the bottom of the scandal. In the process, the TYC board of directors was forced to resign and several top level administrators were ousted. In a May 2, 2007 reported, Kimbrough sums up his efforts.

Over the past two months we have taken numerous actions, including:
1. Conducted new background checks on all TYC employees.
2. Organized surprise inspections of all facilities.
3. Named a new TYC Inspector General.
4. Began a reorganization of agency leadership by requiring top executives and facility superintendents to reapply for their positions.
5. Banned the hiring of convicted felons.
6. Established a command post of special investigators, created a toll-free hotline that is answered around the clock, and documented 3,000 complaints.
7. Arrested 11 employees and suspended or fired others.
8. Released 473 youths who had met their sentencing requirements or were confined for misdemeanors.
9. Created an independent panel to review TYC’s process for sentence modifications.
10. Established a statewide hotline where youths in TYC facilities can call to request free counseling services.
11. Implemented an Agency Integrity Program and informed all employees how to report issues to appropriate state and federal oversight agencies.
12. Received input on the complaint and grievance policies through focus groups with parents, youths, and staff.
13. Established a health care task force with the assistance of Senators Ogden and Duncan. Experts from Texas Tech and the University of Texas Medical Branch will expedite recommendations for an integrated health care system.
14. Identified critical internal data that can provide an early warning of how individual units are functioning.


Correspondence: Before the TYC Scandal

Subject: Proposed Legislation to Reform Texas Prison System
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 08:53:17 -0600
From: "District67 Madden"
To: "Evans Rosedale"


We hope committees will be announced this week and we can get to work. We are working hard on rewriting chapter 37 of the Education code dealing with Alternative Education Programs. We are also advocating a wonderful program called CARY in the schools and are working on putting it in the Appropriations so TEA can implement it It will provide counseling for up to a year for kids sent to In School Suspension or the District Alternative Education programs. It is aimed at middle school and should be available to the FWISD when implemented. We are looking at a complete review of TDCJ and the TYC as part of our session. I also have HB277 which is the virtual school bill which would be a great assist for alternative education programs. That is part of our new and innovative delivery systems.

Jerry Madden

From: Eddie Griffin
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 5:01 PM
Subject: Proposed Legislation to Reform Texas Prison System

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your continuing interest in the prison situation and for consideration of the young lives wasted through the cycle of crime and punishment.

As I have explained to Brother Tatum, we need a three-fold strategy___ before, during, and after incarceration. Successful re-entry into society is the back end component we are now working on, trying to build a community support system and provide a safety net against recidivism.

Another component is the preventative side, stopping young people from going into prison to begin with, by recognizing and dealing with delinquent behavior at its earliest stages and working with schools and parents to provide viable avenues into society and away from prisons.

The third component is what happens to the inmate while incarcerated, what programs and provisions are made available that will better enable him or her to seamlessly re-integrate in society. We have been looking at the role of Project RIO and what it was legislated to accomplish and how it is being implemented in the prison system.

The Tarrant County Re-entry Council is currently studying and working on these issues. Other organizations, such as the FWISD is playing a collaborative part in their dropout prevention initiatives. The FWPD is also playing a role in crime prevent among youth and gangs. In fact, our entire community is focused on solving these problems. We are also active in solving the problem of youth in the education system, why they are not making the grades, and why so many give up before graduation. As I have written before, we need a new education delivery system and more constructive ways to engage our youth. Technology education will help keep our kids engaged in the learning and discovery process, and maybe divert them away from illegal activity, or maybe attract them into a high tech field of interest.

Thanks again,
Eddie Griffin

District67 Madden wrote:


Thank you. Actually we probably have a little luxury in that we still have some time to react to the problem. The great thing that is happening is that a majority of our state leaders now realize that we have many prisons and they cost a lot more than good community programs would cost. The alternatives to building are looking very attractive to most of the legislators. One of the big things we will have to do is provide the alternative treatments, and the other more difficult one is to change society to keep more young people from being tempted and caught in the drug cycle. These are the areas I am really looking closely at during the coming session and will need all the help I can get in making the cultural change at the state level.

Jerry Madden

From: Eddie Griffin
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 5:12 PM
TO: State Representative Jerry Madden
FROM: Eddie Griffin
RE: Proposed Legislation to Reform Texas Prison System

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dear Representative Madden:

I recently read about the reform plan for Texas ' crowded prison system and your comments in an AMERICAN-STATESMAN article entitled “Lawmakers Close to Proposal that Would Increase Prison Treatment Programs” by Mike Ward.

You are quoted on the purpose of the legislation: "Our goal is fewer prisoners in the next decade . . . slowing the growth of prisoners," Madden said. "If more inmates can successfully complete programs and successfully re-enter society, then we spend less on prisons and society is the better for it.”

Shall I say, “Alas, the day is come that we do something about this trend of putting and keeping more and more people in prison." Again, we have reached the breaking limit with our prison population, and just to think we could depopulate one and a half prisons if there were accommodations on the outside world for them.

The Tarrant County Re-entry Council has also been studying ways to successful reintegrate ex-offenders back into society. I was also happy to hear that you have enlisted the help of two of our local ministers, Tatum and Franklin, to assist in finding the optimum ex-offender re-entry strategy.

I also have served on the Council since its inception and worked on Tatum’s Faith-Base Sub-Committee. To refresh your memory of our dialogue on this problem, I have included our last correspondence in September ‘05 about the plight of ex-offenders, and also attaching a copy of Mike Ward’s article, in case you missed it.

Thank you again, for your concern and commitment, and for your effort in getting this legislation passed.

Eddie Griffin

P.S. We also ask your support House Bill 484 to give official recognition to the sector of US 287 to be permanently named Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway, as proposed by Representative Marc Veasey, Fort Worth. Although this stretch of highway has been known as MLK Freeway since 1983, without official state recognition, the freeway could some day be renamed.

District67 Madden wrote:

Thank you for the good comments.

From: Eddie Griffin
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 12:51 PM
To: District67 Madden
Subject: Thank You For Relief with HB 2193

Dear Representative Jerry Madden:

Thank you so much for all of your hard work. You and your staff have contributed volumes of good legislation in this Congress, such as HB 2193 and the "Virtual School Network". In giving poor kids a chance to overcome past mistakes and opportunities to make good their hopes and dreams and expand their horizons, you in fact provide us with renewed strength not to give up. One day, we’ll be able to get in front of these kids and lead them, instead of always having to work from behind.

I have included a copy of my letter to Rep. Dan Gattis who opposed HB 2193. Why is it so hard for some people to even “think compassion”? We are not asking favors. We are asking the ex-prosecutor to have a “thought of mercy”, as you yourself have shown the way.

Thanks Again, Eddie Griffin

Representative Dan Gattis
Room EXT E2.804
P.O. Box 2910
Austin , TX 78768

Dear Honorable Dan Gattis:

In response to House Bill 2193, which would bring relief to the poor and the state’s overcrowded prison system in Texas , you are quoted as saying: "Years ago, when we had prison overcrowding, we just turned everybody loose."

Well sir, years ago, I would have been one of those “turned loose”. After serving 12 years for bank robbery, kidnapping, and hijacking a police squad car, I was released early on a 50-year sentence; otherwise, I would still be incarcerated till the year 2022. Since my release, I have successfully served a 10-year parole, which ended in 1994.

I began as a ditch digger in 1984 because there was pressure on me to find employment or return to prison. By 1990, I was Chief Operating Officer of a highly successful black engineering firm, all because another black man gave me a chance. I have since been a business consultant to over 12 companies, and some 25 or 30 tax clients. When I retired, I began volunteer community service. As a computer school volunteer, I trained and placed over 700 students from the ranks of the poor and unemployed, over 100 kids in advance computer skills, and some 20 senior citizens in restoring cognitive abilities through computer technology.

I have no reason, however, to boast of my personal accomplishments except to put my words into perspective. Everyday I thank God for the Ruiz ruling that brought relief to the Texas Prison System, A Few Years Ago.

Let’s go back A Few Years Ago to where the problem of overcrowding began.

Freedmen's Bureau Report of an Inspection of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville , Walker County [Feb 26th 1867]
There are confined in the Prison in all including both white and black four hundred and eleven convicts. Of these two hundred and twenty five are freed people. Fourteen of the freed people are females and two hundred and eleven are males. There are no white female convicts (so considered) in the prison though two of the females that are classed as freed people are almost as white as any caucassian. They were however, before the war and until its close, slaves.
The Superintendent of the prison is Jas. Gillespie. By his permission I first examined the prison records. From these I could obtain nothing more definite than the general charge which is generally theft.

[For the rest of the report, see and]

A Few Years Ago, before the Confederate State of Texas surrendered to the U. S. Government forces, slave owners converted their plantations into prisons in order to preserve slavery. The plantation prisons were packed with “convicts”___ freed slaves who never got their freedom, but instead convicted on trumped up and fabricated charges. “Theft” charges usually grew out of black-white disputes over payment under the sharecropping system. To black people, at the time, if a man did not pay, the freedman took payment directly in terms of crop and livestock. This was usually their defense in court. [As an ex-prosecutor, you should know this history, since it is a living history behind the walls of TDC even today]…

The laws have since changed. The get-tough stance has led to 2.1 million people incarcerated, over 50% for minor drug possession. Along with petty thief and “joy-riding” crimes, 80% of our prison population is comprised primarily of our youth [not your kids, but our kids].

Recently, an undercover agent asked a young black kid on the street if he knew where he (the agent) could purchase some drugs. The kid punched him. The kid was arrested for assault. Back in the old days, the agent ran the risk of being shot by revolutionary street squads, whose job it was to keep drugs off the street and eliminate the traffickers.

In passing this way, let me say that I am opposed to “undercover drug operations”, not only because of the Dallas fiasco, but because agents sell on the one hand and buy back on the other. The kid who buys from undercover and turns around and sells to undercover is caught in the middle of a game he neither controls nor understands.

This is why I plead for mercy on behalf of these kids…

Sincerely, Eddie Griffin

Correspondence: Look under the Rock

Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 12:30:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Eddie Griffin
Subject: Safeguard Children in Criminal Justice System
To: "Jerry Madden"

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dear Jerry,

I read the following release on AP Texas News and I realize how busy you must be at this time. Thank you for your concerns and actions.

Law officers would be stationed at Texas Youth Commission facilities to investigate abuse allegations and prevent employees from covering them up under proposals the governor put on the fast track Monday.

The legislation calls for establishing an inspector general's office at the troubled agency, where investigations showing agency officials molested young inmates went unheeded for years. A companion bill would allow counties to ask a special prosecution unit to help take the inspector general's cases to court.

Rep. Jerry Madden, a Richardson Republican and chairman of the House corrections committee, said the proposals would make it easier to bring abusers to justice.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the bills an emergency Monday to expedite the process of making them law. But several committee members said they weren't sure they could support the proposals if the inspector general reports to the commission's board.

"Are we putting the fox in charge of the hen house?" asked Rep. Pat Haggerty, a Republican from El Paso.

The Texas Senate asked Perry to fire the board and take over the troubled agency last week, after budget discussions drew attention to reports showing top officials covered up investigations showing employees had molested inmates.

Instead, Perry demoted the board's chairman, appointed a special master to conduct an independent investigation and ordered the agency's acting executive director to design and implement a rehabilitation plan.

I am reminded that we are talking here about juvenile offenders- children abused by law enforcement agents for their own personal and wanton pleasures. How many inmates in the prison system are assaulted, raped, and murdered each year? We will probably never get straight numbers, because there are cover-ups for obvious reasons. Look under the rock, you'll find the core of the problem with the Criminal Justice System.

Eddie Griffin

Subject: Safeguard Children in Criminal Justice System
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 08:08:09 -0600
From: "District67 Madden"
To: Eddie Griffin


… We are looking under the rock at TYC and finding a lot of worms. We are at least moving forward with them. The one major difference we have with them at TDCJ is that their IG are commissioned cops and they have a legal requirement to investigate any criminal allegation. Doesn't mean they get great results but they have a lot more reported incidents than TYC had and I think that is due to the fact they are legally bound to do it. I can get you the number of deaths and we have the highest percentage of rape reports of any state which leads me to believe at least they are reported where other states are not.

Jerry Madden

1 comment:

  1. My name is cory williams I am thirty three years old. At the young age of seventeen I was responsible for a one vehicle car accident involving alcohol. A dear friend passed away as a result. I was charged and convicted as an adult of involuntary manslaughter. I was sentanced to ten years in prison ,probated for five. I completed my conditions and paid my debt to society. I feel the judge understood that I was not a threat to society due to the sentancing. Two years later , in 1996 I applied for a job At the san angelo state supported living center in carlsbad tx. I was twenty years old. I informed the facility and the state of my past conviction four diffrent times through out my tenure at this facility. I have recieved numerouse promotions, bought a beautiful home two blocks from work, got married and have a two year old son and a daughter on the way.I made this my career. Well after sixteen years of dedicated service the state fired me because of a bar to employment conviction I recieved as a minor. I am writing this blog for advice and or connectios to someoone who can help. any advice or assistance will be appreciated