Thursday, December 22, 2016

TJJD would like to recognize the following employees who have received a tenure award since August 2016. On behalf of the agency, we extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation for their dedication and service to the State of Texas.

August 2016

Five Years of Service
Alejandro Moncivais, Evins
Johanna Jimenez, Evins
Johnathon J. White, Giddings
Miguel A. Arigullin, Evins
Patricia L. Galindo, Evins

Ten Years of Service
Bernice Alfaro, McLennan CSJCF
Bertha M. Huggins, Ron Jackson
Carl L. Taylor, McLennan Phoenix
Carla A. Bennett, McLennan CSJCF
James . Rogers, McLennan Phoenix
Marybel Sanchez, Austin (General Counsel)
Monique L. Henderson, McLennan CSJCF
Serena Madlock, Brownwood HWH

Fifteen Years of Service
Dominga T. Garcia, Giddings
Galina Stepanova, Austin (Finance)
Robbie L. Stork, Giddings
Sydney C. Falke, Giddings

Twenty Years of Service
Juan J. Quiroga Evins
Lysandria L. Haywood, McLennan CSJCF
Melissa K. Ferguson, Ron Jackson
Susan R. Lang, McLennan CSJCF
Todd M. Novak, Houston District Office

Twenty-five Years of Service
David J. Reilly, Austin (Executive Office)
Rebecca A. Walters, Austin (Youth Placement, Re-entry and Program Development)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

As many of you are aware, Texas Administrative Code Chapter 341 pertaining to General Standards for Juvenile Probation Departments has recently been amended as recommended by the TJJD Advisory Council’s "Standards Committee" to become effective January 1, 2017. While each subsection of Chapter 341 was scrutinized and amended as deemed appropriate, for this article, I would like to focus specifically on the philosophical tenets behind the changes to case management and how those changes should help improve youth outcomes across the state.
The goal of the Standards Committee was to revise case management in such a manner as to adhere to current research and best practices, while at the same time making it an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, and invaluable tool in helping to foster improved youth outcomes across the state.
The Committee believed that case plans should be built, in large part, from the criminogenic findings indicated on a validated risk/need instrument thereby ensuring what is addressed are the dynamic risk factors most strongly related to recidivism and other important youth outcomes. Criminogenic Needs may be defined as those issues, risk factors, characteristics, and/or problems that relate to a person’s risk of reoffending.
It was important for the committee to have a working knowledge of what is meant by a "validated instrument" since we were making the assumption that a case plan be built from a validated risk/need instrument. In general, validity speaks to the truth of a given proposition, inference, or conclusion. When referring to assessment tools, validity generally refers to how well an assessment measures what it intends to measure. While there are several types of validity, an instruments degree of "predictive" validity is perhaps most important when discussing risk/need assessment.
Predictive validity is a specific type of validity that helps to address the question, "Does this assessment measure what it is intended to measure and can the results be used to predict things about the participants?" As the name implies, "predictive validity" addresses how well a specific tool predicts future behavior.
For example, to be a validated risk/need instrument, it should, with some accuracy, be a predictor of future involvement in delinquent behavior. If the instrument has an acceptable degree of predictive validity, then Juvenile Probation Officers should be confident that building a case plan from such findings will prove profitable to the success of the probationer.
It was believed by the standards committee that this approach to case management would enable Juvenile Probation Officers to better distinguish between high, medium, and low risk juveniles, thereby helping officers better direct services to target those specific criminogenic factors most closely associated with delinquency and to do so in such a manner as to make it likely that the child will profit from the intervention.
TAC 341 revisions were driven by the belief that sound case management is based on the following literature-supported concepts:
  • Risk Principle of Case Management - Higher level of services are reserved for probationers with the highest level or risk; and lower level of services are reserved for juveniles identified as low risk to recidivate.
  • Needs Principle of Case Management - Interventions should target those criminogenic needs that are more likely to lead to recidivism and delinquency.
  • Responsivity Principle of Case Management - Interventions should be presented in the most effective manner for each individual child.
  • Professional Override Principle of Case Management – Considering the risks, needs, and responsivity, decisions are made as appropriate under the prevailing conditions.
While there is some debate within the literature regarding what risk factors most closely constitute criminogenic need, the following domains are widely considered valid as such.

  • Prior & Current Offense.
  • Family Circumstances/Parenting - inadequate supervision, inconsistent parenting, etc.
  • Education/Employment - low achievement, truancy, problems with teachers, class disruptions, etc.
  • Delinquent Peer Relations
  • Substance Abuse
  • Leisure/Recreation - limited organized activities, no personal interests, etc.
  • Personality/Behavior - aggressive, poor frustration tolerance, inflated self-esteem, impulsivity.
  • Antisocial Attitude - not seeking help, defies authority, actively rejects help, etc.
Responsivity Factors are learning styles, abilities, interests, and other unique considerations including characteristics of the person delivering the service. Styles and modes of service, as much as practical, should be matched to the learning styles and abilities of juveniles so that the juvenile is more likely to profit from the particular type of service provided. Responsivity factors are not necessarily related to criminal activity but are relevant to the way in which a youth reacts to different types of interventions.

In summary, taking all of this information into consideration, the Standards Committee recognized the importance of building a case plan that address criminogenic risk factors and as such made recommended changes to TAC 341 that would require a single case plan, built from the criminogenic findings indicated on a validated risk/need instrument, updated monthly, become the guiding light for the child throughout his/her tenure on juvenile probation resulting in maximum opportunity for positive change to occur.

Friday, December 16, 2016

On August 27th, Giddings State School hosted the Annual TJJD softball Tournament at Giddings, Texas. Despite a difficult start, with teams battling wet fields, humidity, and mosquitos, all teams brought their best. Congratulations to the Evins team who took first place, the Ron Jackson team who took second, and the Mart and Giddings teams who came in third and fourth respectively.

The day was more than just a game or tournament; it was a chance for coworkers to come together and get to know each other outside of work. "It was a long day, but the memories that formed along with the new friendships…priceless," said JCO IV and Giddings tournament organizer Julius Castillo.

The Giddings State School Staff Quality Improvement Group (SQIG) was on site keeping everyone’s thirsts quenched and bellies satiated with a full concession stand serving drinks, nachos, sausage wraps, and other game time favorites.

PHOTO: The Giddings Indians staff softball team displays their teamwork and colors.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gainesville State School celebrated this year’s Homecoming with a pep rally in the campus gym and halftime activities at their final football game. Gainesville High School demonstrated their kindness and generosity as they allowed the State School youth to use their beautiful stadium. To top off the festivities, the Gainesville Tornadoes won the game, defeating Chico 32-27.

This year’s homecoming was a special one with retired staff and successful alumni joining the festivities. They had returned to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the facility.

The homecoming court consisted of five seniors. They were given the traditional armbands made from garters decorated with bells, miniature helmets, footballs, players, and ribbons. The Student Council and staff provided music, skits, and entertainment at the pep rally. Coach Henry Thomas delivered his annual address and reminded the team to believe in themselves.

Youth Zachary sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem to begin the game. During halftime, the homecoming court was once again announced. As each senior walked out to the center of the field, a brief bio was given and the crowd showed their appreciation.

This year’s king, Elliott, was chosen by a campus wide vote. All 260 youth at the facility were allowed to vote for one senior who demonstrated positive behavior, academic success, and was a good role model.

The Gainesville community surrounds the State School youth with tremendous financial, spiritual, and volunteer support. Lives are being changed as youth understand, many for the first time, that there are people who truly care for them. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Juvenile Justice Training Academy has worked diligently over the last year with the Regional Training Officers, other statewide stakeholders, and the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) to develop an automated competency exam for applicants seeking certification as a juvenile probation officer. Beginning September 1, 2016, all individuals seeking a new certification as a juvenile probation officer are required to successfully pass the automated JPO Certification Exam prior to being certified by TJJD.

TJJD worked in partnership with CMIT and two urban departments to pilot the exam over a five-month period. A total of 52 people took the test during the pilot, equating to 22% of the total number of new JPO certifications from last fiscal year. The pilot allowed TJJD to gather data to adequately address major issues before the exam went live statewide.

The exam is comprised of 60 total questions. Twenty questions are the same for each exam and were determined to be the most important. An additional 40 questions are randomly generated with at least three questions from each mandatory topic. Probation departments can best prepare staff for the exam by using the most current training material and curriculum from TJJD’s Training Resource webpage.

The exam costs $20 per person/per attempt that is made payable to Sam Houston State University (not TJJD). TJJD left the discretion of payment to the hiring authority on how this fee is paid. Last fiscal year, there were a total of 234 new juvenile probation officers certified statewide.

If an employee takes JPO Basic through CMIT, the exam is proctored by staff at CMIT on the final day of basic training. Departments providing their own training will proctor the exam. When an applicant takes the exam, the score will be sent to the applicant, the department’s designated proctor and TJJD. Applicants will have three attempts to pass the exam. Those needing to register as a proctor should contact TJJD at

At this time, TJJD is only implementing the certification exam for juvenile probation officers. The Juvenile Justice Training Academy will pilot an exam for juvenile supervision officers no sooner than January 2017, with an anticipated effective date of September 1, 2017. The JSO exam will be taken by significantly more staff; it is a goal of the Juvenile Justice Training Academy to make the JSO exam available for a reduced or no cost. TJJD will send out additional information as it becomes available.

TJJD has developed a number of resources to assist departments with implementing the JPO Certification Exam. All information may be found on the Training Academy’s website here. As with any new process, this is a work in progress. TJJD will continue to analyze the data as people take the exam to ensure the fidelity and appropriateness of the test questions and the exam meets our intended goals. TJJD looks forward to continued feedback.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Potter’s House of Fort Worth graciously hosted the 2016 Willoughby House Family Day event on Saturday, July 23. An impressive turn out of the Deacon Board and TJJD volunteers and mentors helped make the day a success.

Youth and family members enjoyed the festive atmosphere, played games and had a picnic lunch.

Volunteer Mentor and Fort Worth Resource Council for Youth member Latasha Walker conducted a mini workshop on communication skills and Parole Officer Jeffrey Manuel shared with youth and parents the rules of parole.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The McFadden Ranch Book Club, begun in July by Superintendent Jimmie Prince, has spurred great interest among the youth. The club meets weekly, when they discuss their current book selection and also watch the movie made from that book to determine the differences and similarities between the book and the movie.

So far, youth have read The Boy in The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and they’re currently reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

One youth discovered that sometimes the characters don’t look as they were described or even imagined in the book. He said that in Holes, the main character is fat in the book but he’s not fat in the movie.

The books come from the Lewisville Library which puts together "Book Kits" for all ages. The kits consist of four to six copies of a book and a study guide. Superintendent Prince checks out the Book Kit and Volunteer and Reading Tutor Barbara Sutherland leads the weekly group. She said it’s exciting to see the boys reading and getting something out of the books.