For better or worse, it seems like I've "tossed my hat into the ring" (an old boxing term indicating one's willingness to be a challanger) and will need to deal with whatever happens from here on with as much fortitude as necessary to make things better for myself and fellow JCO's.  Why is this?

Got an email from the Austin American Newspaper this morning, asking me to provide voice verification of a recent letter I emailed them, as they are considering publishing it.  Never before has the newspaper sent me an email asking I do this, so I'll have to assume they ARE intending to print it, and most likely fairly soon.  Here's what I wrote:

Subject: Giddings State School Meltdown

Message: The Giddings State School has dealt with major full-scale riots
recently, resulting in numerous serious injuries and thousands of dollars
worth of destruction by incarcerated youth. These incidents include pepper
spraying, scores of youth throwing trays in the cafeteria, fighting,
breaking windows, and trashing a dorm to the point of being uninhabitable.

The cause of the rioting is said to be racially/gang motivated, but who
knows? The fact is that taxpayers, legislators, and the public need to know
thier children and family members are NOT safe while incarcerated or working
in the Texas Juvenile Justice system.

Racism, nepotism, sexism, and outright fraud and corruption are rampant;
when staff complain they're told to shut up or get a job at WalMart. Veteran
employees regularly quit due to frustration and fear. Routine absenteeism
means many staff work 12 hour shifts.

The change from "TYC" to "TJJD" won't make much of a difference.

As an institution, TJJD is less than a day old, but time is already running
out for those who have been dealing with an agency that has been in failure
mode and is only getting worse by the day. Does anyone else really think
we'll be able to hide the truth much longer before someone gets killed?

 And for better or worse, I'm gonna have to stand by what I wrote.  Is anyone else with me?  I sure hope so, because I already know there will be some people on campus who prefer the status quo remain in place... it makes it easy for them to ignore problems, pass the buck, arrive late and leave early, and basicly get away with whatever they want -- without being held accountable.  To those people, I have to say "I'm sorry".  If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem -- and well, if you haven't noticed, we DO have some problems around here.  Some of these problems we have we can get rid of by simply getting rid of those individuals who are allowing the problems to continue.  Other issues will take more creative effort, time, money, and dedication to doing what we NEED to do.

I KNOW we can't send every defiantly hardcore youth to TDCJ tomorrow, or, "PRESTO!" have enough JCO's and security staff to make this a totally safe place to work or be confined to by next Friday... OK?  And I know some staff will continue to be racists... come in late... fudge paperwork... bring in contraband... disrespect co-workers sexual orientation -- all that kind of stuff.  But this can be a BETTER campus if those kinds of instances happen LESS.  Actually, I'd be happy if all I had to do was just work 40 hours a week in relative 12:1 ratio safety, be treated with the same respect I show others, and be given some authority to help the kids get out of here in better shape than when they arrived.  Is that asking too much??

My intention when writing to the newspaper  wasn't to get fired/terminated for speaking out about what I feel is the TRUTH -- far from it.  I want to continue working at the Giddings State School, but  in a capacity where I'm NOT spinning my wheels and contributing nothing other than being part of the problem here.  As it is, about all I can do is give the youth 3 "checks" -- and if THEY decide to pay attention, they will do as I ask.  If they choose not to, checking them 30 or 300 times won't do the trick.  The "thinking reports" are worse than useless; EVERYONE KNOWS it.  Bribing the kids with food, etc is not only useless but ILLEGAL; on this issue -MY- conscience is clear.  Can YOU say YOURS is?  Do you know of others who are guilty bringing in contraband or ALLOWING IT TO BE BROUGHT IN?  Please notice I'm not pointing any fingers at any one person.  We're ALL culpable and responsible for the mess we're in, and we ALL can do better.  Me included.
Again -- either each one of us is part of the problem, or part of the solution.  We each have to decide for ourselves how best to do our jobs... and writing to the editor of the paper (and, this website) is how I've chosen to take an active role in making Giddings a better place for EVERYONE. 

At this juncture, my fellow JCO's, I'd like to suggest that we "all hang together, or we'll all hang seperately".  So hang on!