The thinking report is what we're given as a "tool" to help the kids ... ahh... THINK, I guess.  I'm not really sure.  If done with sincerity and some degree of penitence, if necessary, a thinking report MAY well help bring someone to a clearer appreciation of their actions/feelings and how they may negatively affect both themselves and the community.  While the questions themselves are honest enough, we RARELY get anything more than whiney, mewing, little screechy cries for more this, more that,  more everything.  Pamper me, protect me, humor me, entertain me, feed/clothe/house me, respect me!! 

OK, maybe I will.  But you can't assault my co-workers or other youth.  You can't lie/cheat/steal... or refuse to get older even if you never grow up.  I know you aren't required to get a free education, sweat, do ANY REAL WORK, keep a civil tongue, and that's YOUR problem, kids, if you don't -- not mine.  A good Work Ethic sometimes takes losing a few jobs (etc) in order to grow and mature one, you know?  Granted, they are young, but if they DON'T THINK -- I can't help them.  So why ask them to?

One of my favorite thinking reports was written by a kid who wrote the single word "HATE" on each section of the report.  Hmmmm... let's think about that.  He's in the Big House now, where I would say he richly deserves to be.  

Here's another favorite:

annoyed anxious

Pissed off
where the hell is the slip and slide and snow cones
It's boring nothing to do
I hate this dorm
it's childish
we can't do anything
I thought we was supposed to have things planed for today

mad angry

I believe this dorm is bullshit boring

get a self referal

Gee... what could I add to make it any clearer?  What's wrong here, or, if you read it over a few times, does some of it sound kind of promising in a way?  At least he's not seeing his incarceration as Kiddy Club for Convicts -- and that IS good. Still, he LIKES going to Security, and often does, because... because... I guess it's more fun.   Oh, boy.  Imagine that.

 I couldn't imagine what any psychologist would make of it, though, and good thing  too -- they don't pay me to interpret this for meaning or my opinion of what  makes the kids tick.  Does ANYONE evaluate them for potentially serious mental conditions after reading stuff like this??  IF not, WHY not? 

I will NEVER forget one asking me: "This (TYC Giddings) is kind of like prison, isn't it?"  Yep.  IF we run it right.  The kids not so long ago pretty much knew the score -- they were more than locked up.  They had a SENTENCE and most had enough sense to realize it really came down to at least EXHIBITING prosocial behavior in order to get outta here ASAP.  Sure, some would "fake it to make it" as they used to say, but nowdays that seems to be the norm.  Can't lose your stage, YES?  That just BLOWS.

So here we are, at a crossroads.  Either the kids win, or, EVERYONE BESIDES THEM DOES.   Ante up!  Win some, lose some, children; such is the Tao of playing the game.  If you're locked up here for #@!!, society wants you here to listen and learn from people who are trained to model and promote real-life proactive values.  We fail  to do this with the kids and EVERYNE LOSES.  That includes anyone reading or writing this, and everyone who never will.  The stakes are very high now and this is no longer a game.   If/when anyone asks for my honest input on my thoughts and feelings about situations here I can guaren-damn-tee y'all I'll put some THINKING into it!  

Do a thinking report right now on your own, with the situation being that you've just read this post and ... 

~ ~ ~

Ever hear the old Dylan song where he sings "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" -- ?  How about the 60's Army saying "we had to destroy the villiage in order to save it" -- ? 

We all know winds of change are beginning to blow on campus, and for good reason.  People are speaking out, other people are coming and ready to ask questions, and I'm just waiting to see where the cards fall after the dust settles.  I'm hoping for the best... am willing to be part of the changes that will need to be made... and yes, actually still have hope for our future AND the future of the kids we're trying to help.  What doesn't kill us hopefully will make us stronger.    The fabric of our campus is falling apart; what can we do to keep from bottoming out?

Chances -- and changes -- are necessary, ASAP.  An old Pink Floyd song goes "You take the blade... you make the change... you rearrange me 'till I'm sane" comes to mind and kind of relates to what's going on at our campus.  POTENTIAL Agents Of Change will be decending upon us soon, and we need to not be afraid to speak frankly of our concerns.  The insanity needs to stop.  We can't go forward without upheaval, as painful as we know it is sure to be... we gotta do what we gotta do.  At very least, the saying "HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY" should be foremost in your mind if a supervisor or someone from Austin comes around and asks you questions... just be prepared to accept that the truth isn't always flattering and often will hurt.  But the truth will also set us free and re-establish our reputation as part of an agency that really cares for its employees, the youth of  Texas, and our communities. 

We deserve to earn our pay as CORRECTIONS OFFICERS instead of ... what?  24/7 daycare workers?  Better to die on our feet that live on our knees, Brothers and Sisters.  Let the truth be told!

Just to be clear on this matter -- I remain willing and ready to play a bigger role (besides site webmaster) in being part of the SOLUTION at TYC Giddings instead of contributing to the PROBLEMS we face.  My solution ideas include brainstorming with ANYone and EVERYone who can come up with reasonable ideas on what MIGHT work.  I have ideas on how to help the kids learn a new trade and establish their own businesses, for example.  I do NOT want to destroy the villiage to save it.  I DO want to see that what DOESN'T WORK be removed from the way things are done... and then have the remaining parts stitched together into something new and FUNCTIONAL for a change.  Guess I'm ready to quit playing Let's Pretend.  SIGH.   Where's the Emperor's clothes when he needs them?  All we all sheep??!

What say we could have a bonfire of all the CoNextions (how illiterate!) binders out on the football field, huh?  Invite the kids, teachers,  and JCO's -- only the poor unfortunates who've actually had to put up with it.  That'd be a start, anyhow, but doubt if it's in the cards any time soon.  Quite a shame it is, too.  Austin/Admin bought into the system a few years ago when obvious changes WERE NEEDED -- but ConFections... ahh... ConVictions.... urr, ConNextOnes was soon discovered to be the WRONG PROGRAM for our situation... and nothing was done.  And we're paying for it in spades now, right?  You bet!!

One last platitude:  "You make your bed, you sleep in it".  OK, that's what we've done.  Now look at the mess we're in.  Time to clean the sheets, time to pay attention to our mission and mistakes, and time to end the insanity.  We'd be crazy not to.

No fooling.

~ ~ ~

Oh, don't we love it!?  In lieu of timely and real information, we get rumors.  Instead of working on honest interpersonal interactions, we get gossip.  It's time for a change.

It's the FACTS we want, really... but we're either too lazy, too burned out, too afraid, or too non-caring to find out what's going on around here.  And we don't deserve any better unless we speak up to people who can bring about the changes we want, who can help make this a better/safer/more meaningful place to work.

I've tried to keep this site free of outright rumors and gossip, and well, it's hard.  I hear soooo much of it that it makes me wonder -- "Is that really true?"  True or not, once the cat's out of the bag most people will accept ANYTHING they hear if it sounds even the least bit probable.  I've heard from others a number of rumors concerning ME, and oh my... were they ONLY true!!  Truth is, my life's not NEARLY as wicked and/or exciting as some people probably believe.

So... if we want to be kept up on things, we need to ask questions of people we trust.  WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE??  As mentioned before, I've tried, and lost faith with the supervisory JCO's, the Admin, and those up in the ivory towers in Austin who are only concerned with keeping thier jobs by making it look like everything is JUST GREAT here on campus.  Yep, I've "gone through the channels", and still don't feel like I've been heard.  I've written to the director of TYC, my legislative representatives in Austin, and more -- and still, no one seems to care that TYC Giddings is heading down a dangerous path.  Dangerous for staff and youth, and dangerous to the good people of the State of Texas -- because the kids are routinely being let back out into society with precious few coping skills in dealing with life the Real World.  It seems inevitable that this will mean MORE rapes, MORE robberies, MORE violence, right?  What do the kids learn here?  They learn if they whine and cry and fill out enough grievances they can get staff fired, continue to victimize others, and get away with pretty much whatever they like.  This, too, needs to end.  We JCO's have the OBLIGATION to HELP these kids by providing structure and discipline... and we need directives to adopt a REAL "zero tolerance" policy to deal with negative behavioral situations on the dorm.   Otherwse -- mark my words -- they will get worse, not better.

Can we do it on our own?  No.  Are the JCO 6's going to help us?  Probably not.  The JCO 5's mostly are just concerned with passing the buck, kissing butt, and keeping their jobs so they can retire, so they're out, too.  WHO TO TURN TO?

I'm thinking it might  be time before long to share this site with my Boss, my MAIN BOSS -- the man we ALL need to answer to -- governor Rick Perry.  Just to be frank -- I think Perry is a putz.  I can't hope to think he really CARES about you or me or our institution -- what with all the campaigning he's fixin' to do -- but maybe he'll get the message that all is NOT well here, and take a proactive position to help keep from having yet another TYC scandal blow up in his face.  Who knows?  Is it worth the time and effort?

Rumors and gossip aside, the FACTS remain.  Records and paperwork are being kept, and not all of it is being generated by our supervisors and those in Austin.  A lot of it is NOT what Perry would probably want to know about -- but facts are facts.  Now, I hear a lot of juicey things I would never share with Perry, and don't need to because the TRUTH speaks loudlyt enough for itself.  Personally, I don't particularly care who's pregnant by who, or who's using cocaine, or falsifying their time sheet, etc.  I DO CARE about the youth we've been entrusted to help become law-abiding citizens... and the fact that it's just NOT HAPPENING bothers me quite a bit.  We're wasting our time and everyone's money if the recividism rate is anywhere around 50% -- it's hardly worth the effort, eh?

If a kid over 16, or 18, and hasn't had anything but NEGATIVE scores for weeks and weeks on end, is openly defiant, tears the dorm up, injures staff yadda yadda yadda -- WHAT is he doing HERE?  If we're to have a good comeback to the kid's often-asked question "what are ya gonna do about it?" we need to be able say "we're gonna ship your sorry ass off to TDCJ and let them deal with you there".  And carry through.  Every time.

The kids WANT the security of structure and consistant discipline.  Us JCO's WANT to provide it, and be agents of POSITIVE CHANGES in their lives... there's no other way around it.  I believe that with all my being.  If all the supervisors, Admin, Austin, and Perry want to do is keep their heads in the sand and deny and ignore situations and hope things will get better, well, this is NOT a place, at the very least, where people will be willing to work... and at worst we'll turn into another Crockett or where ever else it is that kids were calling the shots and in control.

It takes years for an individual to become a competent and effective JCO; we all know this.  It doesn't happen overnight, for sure.  When experienced staff are let go for no more reason than to satisfy the egos of supervisors, or being for outspoken, or, heaven forbid, fired due to some trumped-up accusation done just to make things LOOK BETTER -- TYC is shooting itself in the foot.  This means only the ineffective staff will remain to take care of business... and as things are, business is NOT GOOD.

What to do... what to do...  any suggestions?

~ ~ ~

Had a new staff of a few months quit yesterday in the middle of their shift... what does that tell you?  It tells ME --

  • They were not given proper support from Admin/their supervisors to handle the stress.
  • The dichotomy between what they learned at Corsicana and the reality on the floor was too wide to bridge.
  • The dorm was seen as a dangerous place and not worth the pay, given the potential for injury.
  • There was nowhere to go and no one for them to turn to to get the encouragement and help they needed.
  • The kids are out of control, vulgar, threatening, and disrespectful and they just couldn't manage the abuse.
  • Staff was simply frustrated, angry, disappointed, and disgusted with the way things are run around here.

Or... am I just being an old sourpuss?  Yeah, I just worked an at-least "scheduled" (and not dumped on me at the last moment) 12 hour shift last time... and worked with 18 teenage felons ON MY OWN for most of the shift... and  was disregarded by fellow staff when I told them that there was trouble brewing between two youth on the "B" side -- they were going to work on the other side of the dorm and acted like it was a waste of my breath to tell them.  Now, with this latest development it looks like it'll be even MORE 12's to come, as people will be calling in more now, rather than have to work by themselves -- and/or be taking more stress leave FMLA and such.  So what's new?

It's a shame.  It's sad.  When people quit a job in the middle of a shift it means, in short, that they got to the END OF THEIR ROPE and saw no other option other than to quit or let go.  Ever felt that way?  Yeah, me too.  Retaining valuable (and costly to procure) employees should be of prime concern here -- but THAT would require Admin REALLY CARING about what's going on here, maybe actually visiting the dorms and getting honest and genuine feedback and LISTENING TO US... can't they see what's happening here or are they in a see/hear/speak no evil mode?

ALL IS NOT WELL at TYC Giddings, and we all know it.  What'll happen to the kids when EVERYONE bails out? 

~ ~ ~
The upside of the situation is if I just absolutely can't stand working at TYC, I can quit.  This would keep me from getting unemployment... but that's allright.  I might have to go lean for a while, sure, but my mental health, marriage, physical health, safety etc are pretty important to me, at least!  So I'll do what I gotta do to keep my job while I'm still employed and when the time is right, move on to others things with an amicable parting of ways.

The downside of working for TYC is they can just haul off and fire us JCO's 1-4  for ANY reason someone above my pay scale wants.  Now, this is something we all took as a given when we got hired, right?  The State doesn't like Admin to do that since it means the ex-employee can collect unemployment for at least a couple years and skate by.  And as anyone who's worked here for any amount of time already knows, people get escorted off campus for all sorts of reasons -- disclosed or not.  And many seem NOT to get fired for the oddest reasons, too -- right?  Anyone know of a staff who gets "disiplined" over and over and over or shifted to a different duty station... and has been here forever?  People DO talk.  People DO know things, and rumors always run highest when clear and honest information/facts are not known and freely shared. 

Such is no business of mine, particularly, but it's also odd that more folks don't seem to fight what would appear to be legitimate/illegal actions taken against them.  Maybe they just don't have lawyers?  Then again, there's stories those lucky individuals who who were let go with golden parachutes and/or out of court settlements and choose to remain silent for the most part... lucky for everyone, I suppose.

Bottom line is, no one wants to get fired.  Admin doesn't want to fire anyone, probably.  In order for us to WANT TO keep our jobs we need to be able to speak the truth to our supervisors and above, and they need to be responsive to our concerns. Then, everyone is happy.

 But ever been put "under investigation" and never told what for, or by who -- and asked not to discuss this with youth or staff or attempt retaliation??  Huh??  Co-worker just "disappear" one day... and no one knows why?  Notice how certain JCO positions/shifts/days off potential availability seem to open and close to certain staff and not others?  SOME people never stay over, or have to be visiting staff, or work 12's or a different shift?  ARE YOU IN "THE CLIQUE?"  No?  Well, guess YOU AREN'T a supervisor, at least, huh??!

It must suck to be us JCO 1-4's.

~ ~ ~

Yes, it's another shift of slogging through the motions of meaningless paperwork, confrontments, firm/fair/consistant personal behavior, day by day.  Who cares, who knows, who bothers?  Well -- a lot of things bother me on the job.

But here's the catch -- the worse it gets around here, the more people we have going out on stress leave.  That REALLY bothers ME, since I don't go that route.  We're ALL stressed, kids and JCO's and everyone else... right?  But when things get un-manageable, like they are now on the dorms, many staff (I'd say supervisors proportionally moreso) go out on STRESS LEAVE and that means whoever is left working has to pull more hours which makes THEM stressed -- so THEY go out, too.  This is how dorms end up with the single staff shift coverage and/or no home dorm staff to do that shift.  When two visiting staff are holding down an unfamiliar dorm it could mean BIG TROUBLE.

Some visiting staff might get hurt since there's no sense of common expectations on the dorms anymore.   The kids might REALLY RESENT some new hire coming on their dorm and trying to run things "by the book".  I think we ALL need a refresher course on what the ground rules are here nowdays if Admin is to expect us to do our jobs appropriately.  We JCO's need to be consistant among OURSELVES, mostly, for our own protection.  When we go to work on a unfamiliar dorm it's crucial that we communicate with our co-worker as to expectations and common goals for the upcoming shift.  Do the best you can to eliminate stress however possible.

But hey, I'M STRESSED!!  Yeah, I can go to my doctor and have her sign me up for a week off.  That'd be cool, and make the cost of my high blood pressure meds seem more worthwhile... got loads of sick time available, too... and haven't gotten any asked-for days off in coming up on 3 months, so WHY NOT?  Everyone else does it!!

Tell me... am I fool for NOT doing so?

"Might makes right" at TYC GIDDINGS, be it staff, kids, admin, whatever -- and the more you just shut up and do your job, the more they feel they can screw you over.  You-know-what rolls downhill, and us JCO's have to clean up the mess.  The higher up you are here, the less you have to work, or at least the more you can get away with it.  If you're big and mean enough, you can simply try to bully and intimidate those who don't stand up for themselves.  Those who don't feel comfortable LYING will usually just shut up and do what they're told rather than argue with a uber-supervisor or staff.  How the kids are ever going to learn pro-social behavior from staff who are lazy, incompetent, racist, sexist, everything=else-ist is beyond MY comprehension!  Do we, as JCO's even come CLOSE to rolemodeling the 5 Basic Rules in our dealings with youth and fellow staff??

~ ~ ~

Let's get it out in the open, and not mince words:  CoNexTions sucks.  The kids know it.  We all know it.  NO ONE I KNOW HAS EVER HAD ANYTHING POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT IT.   Is that right, or not?  You know it's true.

OK, I'm not an Expert, but I KNOW when a kid deserves a 0, he should get it.  Otherwise the program sheet would not have them there as an option to use.  We've been told not to give them ALL ZERO'S unless they were referred on our shift.  But then again, we're told we can't refer them, basicly.  

OK... now, when a youth is given four 0's and a 1 (being at the right place at the right time; behind the wire) for a total score of .2 for the shift -- IF they've been nothing but constant continual never ending ongoing disruption --  why do the scores get changed up by someone who wasn't even there?  What IS the lowest I'm "allowed" to mark a kid?  All 1's OK?  3's?  ALL 5's, all the time???  It just makes no sense why there's not the possibility for scores of MINUS 1-5, too,  you know? 

So GO AHEAD -- make my day.  WHO'S day, I ask.   The kids all pretty much "make their day" no matter what they do, or not... or if they get referred, or are given rarely carried over LOP's or other ooooh, scary! "restrictions".  Nor do they get what the State paid for anymore when they purchased this scrub CoNexTions program.  NO LONGER do they get MDT's, oh, no... they get evaluated off some rouge home-brew off-the-books checksheet where we mark down if they were nice or not.  And so the numbers don't count anymore, really, anyhow.  Sigh.  What a waste of time and effort and young men's lives and futures we've been part of while going through all that paper over the past couple years.

Go ahead.  Figure out how to make YOUR OWN day, if no one else's.

~ ~ ~


"The alarming rise in juvenile crime continued. In Texas, from 1990 to 1998, the juvenile proportion of total arrests increased from 23% to 35%. Juvenile violent crime arrests also increased. The 74th Texas Legislature passed the most expansive juvenile reform legislation since 1973. This legislation that took effect in January 1996 has been described as a "get tough, balanced approach" that reflected the public attitude that we want to punish youth in some meaningful way, and yet not abandon rehabilitation as a principal aim for our children. The Texas Youth Commission implemented a "back to basics" philosophy - public safety and punishment for criminal acts are balanced with the need for rehabilitation.

To accommodate the “get tough” or “zero tolerance” approach, during the 1990s and early 2000s, bed-space and the youth population at TYC dramatically increased. In 1991, the total number of TYC youth in residential care (institutions, halfway houses, or contract programs) exceeded 2,000 for the first time. In 1996, the population crossed the 3,000 mark. The next year, it was 4,015. In 1999, there were more than 5,000 youth in TYC residential care. The population peaked in 2001 at 5,599.

Over the next few years, TYC began to struggle with recruiting and retaining juvenile correctional officers to properly staff its facilities. Increases in youth and staff injuries, and concerns about mistreatment and abuse of youth led to increased parent and staff involvement with the media and Legislature. Advocacy groups became increasingly active in calling for changes in the agency..." and  "The directive from state leadership and lawmakers was clear: stop the abuse of children in the state’s care; solve safety issues; and begin emphasizing programs that provide youth the best possible chance at rehabilitation and a respectable future. To ensure the timely and effective execution of reforms, the TYC Board was disbanded and the agency was placed under conservatorship in March 2007."