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Independent Ombudsman for the Texas Juvenile Justice System. Gainesville State School Site Visit Report O10-SV-19-084 January16-17, 2019 Observer: Allen E Wallace and Nicole Prather Purpose: Routine Secure Facility Site Visit Report: This report is designed to identify problems and seek remedies that help secure the rights and ensure the safety of youth housed at the facility. The issues identified in this report are based entirely on the Ombudsman’s observations, interviews with staff and youth, and collected data. Unless otherwise noted, the issues identified in this report do not constitute formal legal findings. Last Review Date: December 12-13, 2018 Facility Budgeted Capacity: 234 / Capped at 176 Facility Population: 163 Number of Youth Interviewed: 41 EXECUTIVE SUMMAR} Facility, Programs, Processes or Administrative Functions: The facility population has decreased to 163 as of the site visit date. As reported by facility management, there are 80 vacant juvenile Correctional Officer (JCO) positions, with a fill rate of 63%, and 56% available for coverage. Fifteen positions are unavailable for duty due to training status or extended leave/alternate work assignments. This indicates a continued increase in vacant positions from the previous site visits and a decrease in the percentage available for duty. There are 2 case management vacancies. As stated in the previous site visit report, security and dorm JCOs said they were regularly working 12 to 16 hour shifts. JCO Supervisors and case management staff continue to be included in the ‘count’ (working in the direct supervision role) in an attempt to maintain staff-youth ratios. Prior to and during the site visit, major campus-wide disruptions and incidents of youth fleeing apprehension continued to occur resulting in numerous security referrals at a time. Youth and staff stated these disruptions were related to a campus gang war. The day before the site visit, numerous fights and disruptions resulted in 15 referrals to the security unit, which has only 30 cells. Due to this overcrowding, several youth were held in the outside secure recreation area until cells were available, Similarly, on the morning of second day of the site visit, there were not enough cells to accommodate the 16 security referrals following numerous fights that occurred simultaneously in 3 different locations at the school. On December 31* and January 10 6 youth fled apprehension from their assigned groups. Additionally 2 youth fled apprehension on January 16% and 2 others on January 18". On the first day of the site visit, 22 youth were assigned to the Security Unit including 10 in the Security Program (SP) and 12 in the Redirect Program (RDP). The day area was clean, but extensive, new gang- related content and general graffiti had been scratched into the paint or applied with Crayon, markers, and pens to multiple youths’ cell walls. Four cells contained trash, breakfast trays, milk cartons, and snacks that youth stated they had saved. Three youth in security had been refusing to leave the unit for several days. The exact number of days could not be determined because documentation from the security files had been removed. All stated that their dorm case manager had yet to visit them since their refusal to leave. Their statements were supported by documentation, which did not include notation of these visits. Additionally, there was no notation of a campus reintegration plan, Each of these youth requested to speak with the Ombudsmen regarding their concerns about gang activity and their safety. More information about these youth is included in the interview and issues sections. Review of security files revealed 5 instances where the youth did not sign the admitting Level II] Hearing Report or the Rules of Security. No reason(s) were written on some documents and ‘due to behavior’ was indicated on others. The safety/welfare checks (INS-100) were completed at random intervals meeting agency standards. Four RDP files were reviewed. Three contained missing entries on the Program Activity Tracking Sheet including individual counseling with the RDP and dorm case managers and mental health status checks, One youth's file indicated he had not received individual counseling from either counselor for ‘one month, However, youth in this program reported seeing the RDP case manager on a daily basis. As in the previous site visit, three of the youths’ Individual Case Plans included references to the wrong youth in the review of progress and transition planning sections. The Individual Youth Performance Rating Logs had not been signed by a supervisor in several weeks, Although each youth had been assigned a target skill/goal, the skill/goals were broad such as “respect staff” or “follow 14-hour schedule.” Additionally, three youths’ area needing improvement was the same as their identified strength. During the exit conference, facility administrators stated that these issues were addressed uring a recent training. Youth on most dorms were in the day area during unstructured time and generally compliant with the exception of youth in dorm 3. Dorms 9 and 17/18 were clean and contained minimal tagging. All other dorms needed to be cleaned and have recent gang-related graffiti removed from the bathroom area. The window sills of two dorms contained rolled notes and paper, broken pencils, snack wrappers, and other trash. Individual rooms in two dorms needed to be searched and items removed including saved snacks, milk cartons, partially full and empty soda bottles, and other food items. The bedding in one dorm needed to be replaced, as it was torn and tagged. Dorm 3 was dirty, unclean, and unsanitary looking. The bathrooms contained fresh tagging on the bathroom stall doors; paint was peeling, and the surface of the sink counters were tagged with graffiti. Overall, the posted room checks for most dorms indicated that safety/welfare checks were being conducted according to agency policy. Dorm shift logs were more complete than in previous site vi but sections on the log such as youth on suicide or medical alert were generally blank. The daily activities section did not consistently indicate treatment/case management groups or recreational activities. Despite many movements throughout the day, about half of the logs campus wide only documented 1 face-to-name check being conducted once per shift. Approximately half of the Individual Youth Rating Logs reviewed included a supervisory signature and updated goals that changed over time, Several noted broad goals such as “control anger,” “work on not being selfish," and “communicate like an adult.” Conference request logs for most dorms not be located. There is no consistency in the way dormitory documentation (INS-100s, INS-110s, CCF-411s, and Conference Request Logs) is managed and stored on the dorms for quick reference. Gainesville State School, January 16-17, 2019 Page 2 of 12 10-003 05/18 The facility does not currently have a Youth Rights Specialist (YRS). The 10 was made aware that only 1 paper grievance had been received by the Youth Rights Department since the departure of the YRS January S', Two youth grievance clerks stated the clerks had not had a meeting in 2 months. Site Visit Interviews: There were 41 youth formally interviewed, and several informal interviews were conducted with youth and staff. The three youth refusing to leave security said they would not return to the dorm due to gang activity and safety concerns. During the exit conference, facility administrators said they were aware of the youth and had discussed them during a recent Special Services Committee meeting. Each youth provided gang-related information. One said he would not return to the dorm because he was not in a gang and “the gangs don’t like that.” As in the previous site visit, he said he had not had a Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) for “quite a while.” He stated that he has not “talked” during previous visits because he feared retaliation and that since he did not plan on going back to the dorm, he wanted to share the following information: a) a staff member who was recently assaulted by a youth had a “son” on another dorm; b)the “son” was planning on sending a hit on the youth who assaulted the staff member as a means to pay the youth back for the assault; c) the youth who sent the hit on the staff member was also refusing to leave security because he feared going back to the dorm; d) the youth who carried out the hit was placed in RDP, had pending charges for the assault, and feared returning to the dorm and being extorted; and e) a specific youth was calling the shots and "making everyone do what they do” on his dorm. The second youth, who is the youth who was reported to have sent the hit on the staff, said that he did not send the hit but “someone definitely did.” He has requested a transfer to Evins RJC due to safety concerns. He said that the staff who was assaulted had “two sons” on campus and that he had a “big sister” on campus. The third youth said he removed himself because he wanted out of “gang banging,” no longer wanted to give up his food, and would be expected to carry out hits, which he did not wish to do. He stated, “I have to participate in a bad program or stay in security, and security is where | want to stay.” The youth requested a second interview and provided specific youths’ names, gang affiliation and rank, and four youths’ names who he said were being extorted. These four youth were interviewed in their dorms. Two denied having to give up their food, and the other two said they fought so that they could keep all of their food. One youth on RDP transition level 3 stated he was enrolled in the Capstone program because he had earned a GED, but was unable to transition out on campus because there were no JCOs assigned to the Capstone program. His name was provided during the exit conference. Administrators said they would implementa plan to provide this youth the opportunity to leave his cell during the day to work on the campus. ‘Two youth in security stated they wanted to appeal their admission but decided not to when they were informed by the admitting case manager they would have to stay at least 18 hours, because the Administrate Duty Officer (ADO) had up to 18 hours to review the appeal. Another youth alleged that while in handcuffs and leg restraints, security staff stripped him of his personal sweatpants, and a JCO V threatened to use OC pepper spray on him ifhe did not comply. These matters were discussed with management during the site visit as there appears to be a misinterpretation of agency policy. Two other youth stated they had not had a formal MDT in 2 or 3 months. One of the youth's contention was confirmed by the 10 during the site visit. Gainesville State School, January 16-17, 2019 Page 3 of 12, 10-003 05/18