Texas Youth Commission
October 18, 2007, 5:43 pm
Filed under: News Stories

Abuse scandal rocks TYC


Inmates at the West Texas State School in Pyote move around the facility in single-file lines.

About the investigation:

Since Feb. 18, The Dallas Morning News has been writing about the sexual and physical abuse scandal inside the Texas Youth Commission. Our coverage began in Pyote at the West Texas State School, where documents obtained by the newspaper revealed how supervisors had abused young inmates and traded favors for sex. For years, no one did anything to stop it.

Reacting to the revelations, state officials moved quickly to overhaul TYC’s management, even as the scope of the scandal expanded to the entire agency and its prisons throughout Texas.

Below is a complete listing of the Morning News‘ coverage of events and its ongoing look at TYC:


10/07/07: Jail operator GEO’s troubles not limited to Coke County youth lockup
The private operator of a juvenile prison, closed last week because of fetid conditions and alleged mismanagement, has similar problems at other lockups throughout Texas.
Link: Interactive map of GEO Group-managed facilities
Download: E-mail statement from TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle Lyons regarding the agency’s contracts with GEO Group (.pdf)

10/06/07: TYC official blasts GEO Group over Coke County facility conditions
The Texas Youth Commission said Friday that a privately run prison in West Texas was a fire trap where inmates’ medical needs were ignored, schooling was “almost non-existent” and a pattern of “physical and psychological harm” was routinely tolerated.
Download: Audit report on Coke County Juvenile Justice Center (.pdf)
Download: Photos taken during audit of Coke County Juvenile Justice Center (.pdf)

10/03/07: TYC investigates how ‘deplorable conditions’ at closed prison escaped detection
The Texas Youth Commission is investigating why juvenile inmates endured squalor and deprivation at a privately run West Texas prison that was repeatedly praised by TYC’s own quality-assurance monitors.
Document: Read TYC ombudsman Will Harrell’s report describing serious problems at Coke County Juvenile Justice Center (.pdf)

09/16/07: TYC is finding new leaders – in state’s troubled prison system
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, itself a troubled institution, has been tapped to supply new leadership to another prison system brought down by physical and sexual abuse of inmates, official cover-ups and mismanagement – the Texas Youth Commission.
Documents: Abuse and misconduct in TDCJ
Opinion: Youth prisons need expert leaders, not refugees

09/13/07: Advisory group criticizes TYC’s pepper spray policy
In a report obtained by The Dallas Morning News, TYC’s Blue Ribbon Task Force makes a number of recommendations for changing TYC, which was rocked this year by a series of scandals involving physical and sexual abuse.

08/30/07: Lawmakers grill TYC officials on reform
Lawmakers revisited the Texas Youth Commission scandal publicly for the first time since the end of the legislative session on Wednesday, questioning top officials on their progress in rehabilitating the embattled agency and addressing youth parole and use-of-force concerns that have resurfaced in recent months.

08/05/07: Feds knew about TYC abuse cases
Read Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski’s report detailing allegations of sexual abuse at the West Texas State School in Pyote. (.pdf)
Letters to state officials regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into allegations of abuse at TYC facilities.
Letter from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee encouraging U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate the TYC (includes reply from Deputy Attorney General Richard A. Hertling)

07/29/07: Texas’ youth jail operators have troubled histories
Firm’s leaders linked to problems
GEO Group’s facilities were closed in Louisiana, Michigan
Nonprofit is no stranger to scrutiny
Interactive graphic: Texas private contracts around the nation
Interactive graphic: Mistreatments at TYC contract facilities


–> 05/13/07: Mistakes, mismanagement wrecked TYC
A chain of administrative failures, executive inattention and bureaucratic missteps brought the Texas Youth Commission to institutional collapse. State government records, legislative archives and interviews with current and former officials show a breakdown of authority at all levels.
TYC Executive director Dwight Harris and board Chairman Pete Alfaro downplay problems within TYC
Audio: Senators question TYC officials
Timeline: Repeated warnings of TYC abuse sent to governor’s office
Chart: Money issues: Annual state and federal funding for TYC (.pdf)
E-mails show TYC officials obsessing over image


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