Friday, May 26, 2017

On February 27-March 1, the Juvenile Law Section of the State Bar of Texas sponsored the 30th Annual Juvenile Law Conference in Horseshoe Bay. TJJD’s Juvenile Justice Training Academy coordinated the conference in partnership with the Juvenile Law Section and welcomed approximately 400 juvenile justice professionals from across the state. The agenda focused on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case In Re: Gault and was specifically designed to give practitioners the latest and most pertinent information relevant to juvenile justice in Texas. During the conference, distinguished professionals presented on various topics that benefited all facets of professionals wanting to enhance the juvenile justice system. Collectively, speakers demonstrated great passion and enthusiasm in their ability to share their knowledge and expertise.

For the third year, the Juvenile Law Section hosted disciplinary caucuses with facilitated discussion. These caucuses provide a means to network within an individual’s personal discipline and discuss best practices, current issues, and share trends within the scope of his or her functional area to support a continued dialogue for ways to implement an overall improved system.

The Juvenile Law Section honored Laura Parker with the Robert O. Dawson Visionary Leadership Award. Nominations were submitted by members of the Juvenile Law Section and is given to an individual who has unselfishly devoted time to the cause of juvenile justice in Texas. Laura Parker, who served for 17 years as the District Court Judge for the 386th District Court in Bexar County, has been an advocate for juveniles in Texas and her efforts advanced the development of innovative juvenile justice programs. As District Judge, she presided over three specialty courts including Restore Court for adolescent victims of human sex trafficking, the 386th Drug Court for drug dependent youth, and Crossroads, a mental health program for girls.

This year also marked the 30th anniversary of the Juvenile Law Section and this milestone was celebrated with a fun-filled anniversary party. The Juvenile Law Foundation, a newly created 501(c)(3), hosted a golf tournament and silent auction to raise funds for providing college scholarships to kids involved in the juvenile justice system. This year, the Foundation raised over $13,000 to help support those scholarships.

TJJD and the Juvenile Law Section would like to thank everyone who attended, and is looking forward to hosting the 31st Annual Juvenile Law Conference. For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or

Photo: Beverly Bryant and Attorney Brian Fischer enjoying their time at the Luau and Gaulf Tournament

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TJJD began piloting the juvenile supervision officer certification exam. The pilot will be conducted over a six-month period and the exam will not be required for certification until September 1, 2017. TJJD worked with the Regional Training Officers statewide, along with the Chapter 344 subgroup of the Advisory Council, to develop the first of three rounds of questions that will be used for the new automated exam. The purpose of the pilot is similar to the JPO certification exam and provides an opportunity to gain statistics on wording, timing, appropriateness of questions, etc.
  • During the pilot, TJJD will switch out 50 questions at a time, each for two months, over the six-month period (for a total of potentially 150 questions that will be in the pool of questions).
  • TJJD will send another email in April when the next group of 50 questions is piloted.
  • The JSO exam will be a 50-question test with multiple choice, true/false and matching questions.
  • The JSO exam is a timed, 60-minute exam.
  • For purposes of the pilot, a department may choose to test any existing or new staff. The more individuals taking the exam, the better.
  • The pilot will be for data collection only and not to give official credit for passing the exam.
  • The passing threshold will remain 70%.
  • There will be no exam fee associated with taking the JSO exam, neither during the pilot or once live.
TJJD is in need of departments or facilities to assist with the pilot. One of the best ways to prepare staff for the certification exam is to ensure that all departments or facilities are using the most current training material from TJJD’s Training Resource webpage. During the pilot, departments or facilities will not be required to “proctor” the exam until the live exam is implemented beginning September 2017. The same rules will apply for those proctors as with the JPO certification exam.

Those interested in assisting TJJD with taking the pilot may access the exam online here As of the end of February, 163 individuals attempted the test statewide, with an average score of 85.6% and an average of 18 minutes to complete the exam.

For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or

Monday, May 22, 2017

Current and former TJJD youth participated at a panel discussion at Texas Southern University, sharing their life stories and testimonies of how they overcame their past. The panel was part of a Youth Drug Prevention Seminar which featured a screening of the documentary film “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict.”

Pictured from left to right are: Houston District Office Parole Officer L’ Sandra Tutson, Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments staff member Krystin Porter, Houston District Office Family & Community Relations Coordinator Sherrell D. Kivumbi, current TJJD youth DP, and former youth EG and LJ.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cottrell House youth recently had the rare opportunity to provide guidance to future juvenile justice workers currently studying at the University of Texas at Arlington. TJJD youth eagerly participated in a learning session, making an impact with people who are interested in helping juveniles make better decisions.

The Cottrell House youth provided the UTA students with background information on why youth commit crimes. Youth informed students that committing crimes is a learned behavior, usually from family members or friends. Youth CG encouraged students remain positive and be patient when working with juveniles.

Youth DJ told students that he has made positive changes to his life and now he is ready to go home. He says that he has learned to control himself and think before he acts. DJ told the group that he plans on joining the military once he is released from TJJD. Youth JL told students that he made several mistakes in the past by not listening to the people that were trying to help him. He says that he now understands the value of what people were trying to do for and with him.

Cottrell House youth were also invited to speak with Edward Titche Elementary students in the New Horizons Afterschool program. These students are third and fourth graders at high risk for dropping out of school, joining gangs and participating in criminal activity. Cottrell House youth were excited to speak with these students about the importance of staying in school, saying no to drugs, and avoiding gangs. Youth GD spoke with youth about staying away from drugs and the consequences of using and selling drugs while JL advised youth to stay in school and listen to their parents and teachers. Youth IV advised students that gangs are dangerous and the end results will always be negative. The TJJD youth then spent quality time mentoring the students in small groups.

Photo: Youth IV is mentoring youth at Edward Titche Elementary School, encouraging them to stay positive and remain drug free.

Friday, May 12, 2017

TJJD’s Juvenile Justice Training Academy (JJTA) recently adopted a new Training Procedure Manual as well as revisions to the Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual as it relates to TJJD employees and their supervisors knowing and adhering to training-related requirements. TJJD provides training for employees to meet state and federal laws and to ensure that employees are successful in the performance of their job duties. Highlights of these new policies include:
  • Identifying specific responsibilities of the JJTA, a TJJD employee, and their supervisor.
  • Describing the process for establishing that an employee has sole-supervision status.
  • Defining the competency threshold for considering a staff to successfully complete a course to include a score of 70% or higher, for written tests, except for CRP, first aid, and AED, which require a score of 80% or higher; or a demonstration of competency of the required skills, as determined by the training specialist, for hands-on tests.
  • Clarifying that for courses with a competency-based test, employees are given two attempts to pass the test.
  • Describing classroom expectations for employees attending training.
  • Defining the time frames and applicable grace period for receiving required training and subsequent actions if an employee fails to fulfill their training obligations for new hire training, annual training, or training required as a result of a transfer of job function.
  • Establishing guidelines for providing routine methods that will be used to assess the training needs of TJJD employees.
Employees and their supervisors are encouraged to become familiar with the Training Procedure Manual found on TJJD’s intranet. For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Kristy. or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

TJJD’s Juvenile Justice Training Academy (JJTA) recently released revised curriculum for three mandatory topics to be used for juvenile probation and supervision officer basic training. The new materials include the full curriculum on Officer Safety and Mechanical Restraints, Customized Case Design, and Suicide Prevention and Intervention. The JJTA worked with the regional training officers, select field subject matter experts and internal technical authorities for input and review of the approved material. This new material should be used when training officers for certification.

Officer Safety and Mechanical Restraints is a 3.5 hour course that provides an overview of safety considerations when supervising juveniles in and out of an office setting. Participants will examine the proper application of mechanical restraints via scenario-based learning. This course is intended for juvenile probation officers.

Customized Case Design is a 5.5 hour course that considers fundamental concepts necessary for customized case design. Case management principles, including effective documentation and setting goals will be examined and participants will further create a case plan based on the newly implemented Texas Administrative Code standards. This course is designed for juvenile probation officers.

Suicide Prevention and Intervention is a 2.0 hour course that provides an overview of adolescent suicide through an examination of interventions that can be used to provide guidance and support for juveniles struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings. This course is designed for both juvenile probation officers and juvenile supervision officers.

The new materials may be found online at TJJD’s JJTA Training Resources, or by clicking here ( When accessing the page, the curriculum is found under the respective "Mandatory Curriculum" and links to the lesson plan, participant guide, powerpoint presentation, and other applicable documents are available.

For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or