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A series of unfortunate contradictions

 by Carolyn Kahant for TaxpayersWatch

 

 

 

     Who's telling the truth?  A compilation of public statements by JDF adminstrators, overseers and employees, and agencies.

 

TANNA BROWN, from an Oct. 9, 2003 interview with Glenda Taylor, Kerrville Daily Times:

 

BROWN: "THE GOAL OF THE FACILITY IS TO PROVIDE A REAL SAFE PLACE FOR THAT CHILD."

 

PAM MORETTI, licensed professional counselor: "When therapists were forced to leave abruptly, I feel we were literally ripped away from those kids -- kids that already had separation and abandonment issues."

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM, substance abuse therapist. "Suicide watch was being used as punishment. Very young kids were put in with 16 year-olds. And there were no healthy outlets for any of them. Some of those kids were in there for six to twelve months and were never allowed outside."

 

FORMER JUVENILE DETENTION OFFICER (JDO): "It's very stressful in there. And it's not really due to the kids. There's a lack of communication from the staff - from the top on down."

[*These and following quotes are from Kerrville Daily Times (KDT) 1-14/15-04 news stories by Glenda Taylor.]

 

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BROWN: "CHILDREN HAVE ACCESS TO A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR IF NEEDED."

 

PAM MORETTI, licensed professional counselor. After most therapists were terminated, "counselors who didn't have any psychology background were put in charge of these kids'" who have a range of psychological disorders.  

 

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BROWN: "JUVENILES HAVE A GRIEVANCE PROCESS REGARDING ISSUES THAT OCCUR WITHIN THE FACILITY THAT WE TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY."

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "Grievances my kids wrote up about treatment they received by staff were given to the juvenile detention officer and the grievances never went any further."

 

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BROWN: "EMPLOYEES NOT SATISFIED WITH THE FACILITY'S HANDLING OF A GRIEVANCE CAN APPEAL TO THE JUVENILE BOARD."

 

LINDA ATKINS, therapist: "We went through the channels (writing letters to Brown and the juvenile board). We went to the powers that be. Nothing changed. They never even answered my letters." 

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "We never got to say a word" when attending juvenile board meetings.

 

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BROWN: "PROCEDURES FOR REMOVING DETAINEES ARE OUTLINED IN THE FACILITY'S POLICY.'"

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "The facility has it's own policies and procedures, but they were ignored."  

 

FORMER JDO: "Policy changes were frequent. You come back from two days off and nobody tells you the policies have changed."

 

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TANNA BROWN, from written statements submitted to the Kerrville Daily Times, as reported in 1-14-04 news story:

 

BROWN: "IF IT IS PROVEN THAT AN EMPLOYEE IS EVER VERBALLY OR PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE TOWARD A RESIDENT, THEY ARE IMMEDIATELY DISCIPLINED, AND IF NECESSARY, DISMISSED."

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "They (JDO's) called the kids all kinds of names. The girls were called 'sluts' and 'whores'."

 

SHARON CURRY, JDO: "What I witnessed was mostly verbal abuse and outright neglect. You bring it to your supervisor's attention, and nothing is done."  

 

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BROWN: "REPORTING ABUSE OR MISCONDUCT TO THE STATE AND THE SUPERVISOR IS REQUIRED OF EMPLOYEES. THE SUPERVISORS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO PRECLUDE ANY EMPLOYEE FROM REPORTING INCIDENTS TO THE STATE IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATE LAW. THIS PROCEDURE FOLLOWS FACILITY POLICY AND STATE LAW. BOTH ARE PROVIDED TO EVERY EMPLOYEE."

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "There was no policy book. No one received a policy book. They ended up making one up after we started asking to see it."

 

SUSAN SILVA, JDO SUPERVISOR: "JDO's were never told they had the obligation to report abuse to the TJPC. I was there 2 1/2 years. Six months before I left, we were finally given a number we could call. We had to notify the supervisor first. But many were afraid of losing their jobs."    

                   

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JUDGE PAT TINLEY, November 29, 2003, as reported in KDT 11-30-03: "WE GO TO A CONSIDERABLE DEGREE ... TO AVOID HAVING CHILDREN WITH MENTAL ILLNESS IN THAT FACILITY. IF THE SUGGESTION IS MADE (that the child is suffering from a mental illness) THAT CHILD IS DIVERTED FROM THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM INTO THE MENTAL HELATH SYSTEM."  

 

PAM MORETTI, therapist: Many youth in the center were affected by a range of psychological disorders, substance abuse issues and even full-blown mental illness.

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM, therapist: "Several of the kids came in psychotic. They have a psychological evaluation before they are admitted into the facility, but we let everybody in."   

 

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TINLEY: "THE JDF ADMINISTRATORS' FIRST AND FOREMOST CONCERN IS THE PROTECTION OF OUR CHILDREN." 

 

SHARON CURRY, former JDO and supervisor: JDO's were allowed to hand out medications, including psychotropic drugs, to the detainees. "I didn't feel qualified to be handing out medication and I refused." 

 

FORMER JDO: "I've seen the first shift supervisor accidentally give the wrong medication to kids and not fill out paperwork on it." 

 

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JUDGE STEVE ABLES, January 14, 2004 Kerrville Daily Times: "I WANT UNFETTERED SCRUTINY OF THIS FACILITY BY THE APPROPRIATE AGENCIES. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I WELCOME THAT." 

 

BETH MITCHELL, Advocacy Inc. legal counsel, in same news story: "They have decided not to enter into an access agreement. We're left with no other option than to file (a lawsuit). We've tried to work amicably with them for months." 

 

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ABLES: "THE SIX ALLEGATIONS ... NEVER MADE IT TO THE JUVENILE BOARD.'"        

 

LINDA ATKINS: "We went through the channels (writing letters to the juvenile board). They never even answered my letters."

 

SHAUNA WICKHAM: "We never got to say a word" when attending juvenile board meetings.

 

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COUNTY AUDITOR TOMMY TOMLINSON at a December 2004 Commissioners Court meeting blamed the financial trouble at JDF on the TJPC: "THEY TOOK AWAY 22%" of the facility's beds in 2003. "IN ONE DAY, WE WENT FROM 50 TO 39 BEDS ... THAT'S $360,000 WE LOST IN REVENUE DUE TO A DECISION BY TJPC."

 

TEXAS JUVENILE PROBATION COMMISSION said they never changed numbers of beds allowed; the juvenile board determines this themselves. They said the KCJDF ignored capacity limitations at various times. Records show residents exceeded number of beds.

 

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TOMLINSON, BECKY HARRIS AND JUVENILE BOARD MEMBERS appeared before the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission Board in Austin in September 2004 where they blamed the KCJDF financial problems on Advocacy Inc.'s demand to enter the facility and on decreased funding from TJPC.

TJPC denied there were any funding cuts.They said they revamped levels of care in Sept. '03, but that had little effect on KCJDF. Tomlinson admitted the facility chose to charge a lessor amount to stay competitive with other facilities. It was not required by TJPC. 

 

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SHERIFF RUSTY HIERHOLZER, in December 2003, investigated allegations of abuse at the JDF and found no wrongdoing.

 

TEXAS JUVENILE PROBATION COMMISSION, in May 2004, found 8 of 12 abuse charges credible after their investigation.

 

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