published Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Cook: The crime of closing Taft

Raise my damn taxes.

Or pass the hat. If one-third of the people in Tennessee sent in one dollar each, we could do it. Cut the death penalty out of the state budget. It costs millions to fund.

Do something. Just keep Taft Youth Center open.

Taft Youth Center is -- literally -- the most effective youth development center in the state of Tennessee. And Gov. Bill Haslam just announced he wants to close its doors.

We, perhaps more than any city in Tennessee these days, are beginning to understand the ripple effect of violence: No community is immune.

And Taft transforms the lives of kids from Chattanooga. More than one-third of the 80 students at Taft come from our area. Effective teen rehabilitation is central to our city's work to reduce violence.

It's as if there was a huge smallpox outbreak in our area, and the underfunded, underdog hospital doing so much to heal and help our people is now being shut down.

For decades, folks at Taft have been laboring away (think they earn gobs of cash?) to make that place into something that actually works.

Taft receives the toughest of the tough: juvenile offenders with the most hardened hearts and tragic rap sheets. They're teetering on the edge of the precipice, and Taft works to save their lives.

Taft has the lowest recidivism rate in the state. Three percent, compared with 11 percent for every other Tennessee Department of Children's Services youth center.

I learned that from Bledsoe County Judge Howard Upchurch, who organized 20 other Juvenile Court judges in Tennessee to oppose the closing of Taft.

Taft has the highest number of students getting their GED or high school diplomas. Its graduation rate may top some state high schools. You don't do that without blood, sweat and tears. I know how hard it is to teach my own kids to tie their shoes. Now try to teach American literature and algebra to an inch-away-from-becoming-a-lifetime-criminal-at-16 kid who's seen nothing but closed doors in life.

Close it down? We ought to charge admission.

After all, the governor's good at keeping prisons open. Just not Taft.

Ten months ago, Haslam allocated $31 million to keep the doors open at Hardeman County Correctional Facility in Whiteman. It was on its last leg; former Gov. Phil Bredesen had planned on closing it.

Yet at the last minute, Haslam scrambled together $31 million to fund permanently the 1,967-bed prison.

I wonder why.

Hardeman County is managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, a publicly traded Nashville-based business that operates prisons across the United States. The first three quarters of 2011, the company recorded profits in excess of $1.2 billion.

So while our taxes can't be used to keep Taft open, they are being used to keep CCA a billion-dollar-a-year company.

While Haslam was campaigning for governor, CCA President and CEO Damon Hininger donated $2,000 to his campaign, while CCA itself made the maximum donation: $7,500.

At the time, Haslam defended his decision to keep Hardeman open. Budget cuts, he said, aren't the most important thing.

"We could have saved some money by closing that, but in the end we didn't think it was the right thing to do for the corrections system," he told an Associated Press reporter at the time.

Why does he say that about Hardeman but not Taft? Is Haslam shutting down Taft in an attempt to privatize our state's juvenile correction facilities?

There's still a chance. The budget must go through the Legislature (come on, Bo Watson; we're counting on you) where the closure may be approved. If so, it puts matters back into our own hands.

I wonder what would happen if enough people in Pikeville, Tenn., where Taft is located, and beyond gathered together and loudly enough said "no."

People can get put in jail for a variety of reasons. If all other options are exhausted, I wonder what message it would send if Juvenile Court judges, parents, Taft employees, Taft students, elected officials and even columnists joined together in civil disobedience.

Breaking the law might just be the way to keep Taft open.

David Cook can be reached at

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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Crossville said...

AWESOME ARTICLE, MR. COOK!! FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT!! And that is very interesting about him forking out the dough for the Hardeman prison and the comment of budget cuts not being the most important thing. I guess the $9500 combined donations made a bit of a difference in that. Just a speculation, of course. But in the case of closing Taft, I don't think they are realizing the danger of their decision. The younger, weaker students that are not able to defend themselves will pay the price. I pitty the staff at other institutions because a lot of Taft's population is from other institutions for being extremely disruptive, assaultive and violent. What do you think is going through a 17 yr old's mind when they say they are sending him back to another institution with him KNOWING why they sent him to Taft? I know what goes on, he believes he will have the upper hand and will show it and act out to prove it. I just hope that other kids and/or staff do not get hurt in the process. DCS wants to move the girls to "privatization" so they can move some of the "hardest" boys to that facility (New Visions). That facility only holds 50 students (from what I hear). What are they going to do with the rest of them? And if they do put 50 boys there, what are they going to do with one when another in an institution acts out? Is it just going to be a revolving door? The one that's been there the longest gets released back into society to make room for the other disruptive student? OR are they going to send him back to another institution for him to reek havoc on staff and students again? They are making a big mistake and I hope they don't end up finding that out the hard way, after it's too late and Taft is gone. And the surrounding communities also, they will be in danger. There is nothing at that facility to hold them in. It is not a lock down unit. MONEY (the very thing they are trying to "save") will have to be put into it to make it a secure facility. Then, if they do that, aren't they defeating the purpose of saving money? I do believe and have believed from the beginning that it IS just the beginning of privatization of all institutions... And evidently, it's beginning with the girls. So, let's take a child that has murdered, raped, gang banged, heavily into drugs, guns at school and never been taught any different and let's put him/her in a privatized setting (I do believe this is comparable to a group home). With no locks to hold him/her in, no security to protect others, etc.. I could go on and on... But I think surely you get the point by now. Let's just do all that so someone can line their pockets with privatization. ARE THEY NUTS?? IF THEY CLOSE TAFT, IT WILL BECOME A SAFETY ISSUE FOR ALL! And that is NOT fair to those kids that need the help that Taft so evidently gives. They are the best of the best for the worst of the worst!

February 2, 2012 at 7:35 p.m.
pikeville said...

Here are the true poll numbers!!!

Should Taft Youth Center be closed? 7%Say Yes(79 votes) 92%Say No(1045 votes) 1124 total votes

Vote in this poll.

February 2, 2012 at 9:11 p.m.
pikeville said...

O'Day told Haslam during a November budget hearing that Taft is the system's most costly facility, with a $12 million annual operating budget and as much as $37 million in capital needs. By closing Taft, the department would save $4.4 million a year, according to O'Day. Most of the 167 people who work at Taft are trained by the Tennessee Department of Correction and should be able to find jobs at the nearby $208 million Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, slated to open in 2013, O'Day said. O'Day responded Friday, saying the $37 million in repairs and updates needed at Taft includes repairs to its 1932-era boiler, replacement of a security building and kitchen facility and construction of new dormitories, which were built in 1943 and 1963. Taft was built in 1918. These are direct quotes from the commissioner of children’s services Kate O’Day. This is the same commissioner that told Governor Haslam during budget hearings in Knoxville last month;“there is no differentiating line between Dependent Neglect/Foster Children and Juvenile Justice kids.” Either this commissioner is being badly misinformed from within her own department, or she is misleading the Governor and the taxpayers for another reason. This is the facts of the case! 1. Tafts total budget is 12,328,500. In this 12.3 million there is the operating costs of a water plant that serves thousands of residents, SETRCF, and Fall Creek Falls State Park. The state will not allow Taft to profit from the water sales, in fact they don’t let them break even. In this budget number TRICOR farm utilities are deducted. This is a large milk producing farm that runs 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. The costs to operate these things are 400,000 dollars annually. This drops Tafts budget to 11,928,500 in comparison WHYDC’s in Nashville budget is 12,148,400 Wilder in west Tn. 11,342,300 MVYDC in east Tn. 11,287,700. Considering Taft returned over 800,000 dollars in 2010 and 1.2 million in 2009 saying Taft is the most expensive is misleading. 2. Ms.O’Day says Taft needs 37 million in repairs of this 37 million she has listed 1932 era boiler, new security complex, and kitchen. 1948 and 1963 dorms. Even if all this were true it is a far cry from 37 million. The truth is Taft has 2 new boilers powered by natural gas installed in Oct.2005, There was a new state of the art security complex built in 2006, The dorms and kitchen were totally renovated in 1982. Taft was accredited by ACA in 2009 with a score of 99.9. The lowest score the kitchen has ever received from the health department going back 6 years is 93. As I said earlier either this commissioner is being badly misinformed from within her own department or she is misleading the Governor and the tax payers for another reason? You be the judge!!

February 2, 2012 at 9:15 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

Mr. Cook that is what people at Taft have been saying along and needing to see someone tell like it is. Since Nashville is where all the people( O'Day,Haslam,Dawson)and where central office is located and the newspaper located in Nashville are not reporting hardly anything on this story HUH!!!.What happen to freedom of speach for the press are they bought or are they afraid to print the truth, correct me if I am wrong but the press is suppose to report the facts! Come on Tennesseean get in the game if your a real newspaper or you limited to what you can print. If anyone that missed the meeting in Nashville you missed quiet a show. Ms O'Day started out by saying that she brought all her people so this time she would't waste the panels time. Quess what she did just that waste everyone time again. It wasn't a total waste of time but she once again showed that she is over paid for her job, because none of her staff know or her could answer the questions again!If she didn't know the answers all she had to do was turn around and ask someone from Taft and I would bet that they would know the answer.The one person that should have been there was Mr. Dawson and then she would have had all her so called people with her to answer the questions.Funny thing about that if I am not mistaken Dawson was in the building prior to the meeting? If you are Mr. Dawson's boss and that was a work day and he wasn't on some type of leave I think I would know where my employee's are, but she can't answer any of the question, so what makes us think she can keep up with her employee's! If my information is correct not sure where and exactly which detention centers that they are,but they are over a hundred boys in each one and that they need to be in a YDC and DCS are not taking any in right now, wander WHY. Also O'Day talked about putting the girls that are in New Vision (24 of them right now) in a private place and it's kind of odd that Woodlinhills is setting there right now with you quessed it 24 beds open.Haslam and O'Day can set there and say they are doing everthing for the children when if you ask me they are looking to get rich and leave the state of Tennessee in alot of lawsuits once they move on. Haslam hopefully at the end of his term and not relected and take his DCS commissioners that don't know anything about the DCS department and move on!

February 2, 2012 at 9:55 p.m.
BigTafter said...

I would like to challenge Ms. O'Day to spend a day at Taft as a CSO. She needs to wear the "blue" and play the role as a CSO recently hired. When she can do that I might try to understand what other reason beyond lining her and her friends pockets that she has planned. I have seen and done the job. Can she? A supervisor should never ask someone below them to do anything they can not do....I learned that at the University of Tennessee. Business 101

February 2, 2012 at 10 p.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

The word "carpetbagger" comes to mind when you speak of O'Day,Dawson and Suddreth. If no one remembers what a carpetbagger is, it is a word used to describe a person who comes from another state or region to Tennessee to seek political and financial gain. Does this sound like O'Day, Dawson and Suddreth? Where did they come from? O'Day makes $12,000.00 a mon., plus what she has been promised when she moves all juvenile justice young people into private contract care. Has she already taken a payoff under the table? Has anyone ask what the private sector contracting is going to cost the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee? I would be willing to bet that it cost more than it would cost to keep Taft open. It really makes me angry that we, as Tennesseans, need carpetbaggers from other states to come into our state and take over our jobs.

February 2, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
BigTafter said...

In the meeting yesterday, Ms. O'Day answered that she had not signed a contract for the female care. But she never said what it would cost nor did she identify where or who she would send these troubled girls to live with. But it sounds like someone in Nashville has been shopping.....a girl doesn't shop and not buy for herself

February 2, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

What are we really looking at here? Ms. O'Day is all about money. What about these young mens lives. Does she even know our mission statement? Is Taft not there to rehabilitate, teach and give purpose to these young lives? In hopes of sending them out into society with the tools to succeed and change the lives of others. How do you put a price on a LIFE???4.4 million? Is that the price of 1 life or hundreds of lives,or maybe thousands of lives? How much Ms. O'Day?

February 2, 2012 at 10:29 p.m.
arrowspaint said...

well Mrs. O'day heres something i guess you also didn't take the time to look at, you stated in Nashville on wed Feb. 1st that any juvenile facility can use mase have you even took the time to read the doe policy??????????? i guess you don't have that in front of you either well i don't think that stsrcf has a copy they are a adult facility after said all employees can go across the road except for 4 or maybe 5 well first of all over there if you aren't kin you aren't in except for the few people that they have to have and they never make rank. what more does a person need than 5+ years experience, great evaluations, excellent attendance and has worked all areas at stsrcf and gave a more than necessary notice before leaving with no write ups need to acquire a job or should i say return to a job at stsrcf all the above didn't seem to matter to them the other day when i interviewed nor does the 4 years i have at taft and with its possible closing? still i can understand when YOU say i dont understand or i'm you i'm not good at math, but i am good at working with the students at taft i love,appreciate and need my job and i do read the policy's including the doe policy. No were have i seen in a policy that you support the people you work with, respect them,stand up for them and be proud of the efforts they make.. {treat the students the same as staff} well all i can say is i hope you sleep as well tonight as the parents that have children at other ydcs waiting for taft students arrival..lets not forget the students themselves...stsrcf is going to hire everyone from taft? you should be the warden then becouse one day you'll be shut down too

February 2, 2012 at 10:33 p.m.
ironeagle said...

Governor Haslam and Commisoner O'Day's plan to close to Taft YDC in no way supports Haslam's goal of moving TNForward, it's more like a step backward into dangerous territory. Their plan to save a few cents will lead to serious harm or even death in the long run. The question is, "Which is more important human life or 4 million dollars a year?" TN needs better leadership in these tuff economic times, we need to come together and save where we can without cutting jobs or putting people in harms way. Overcrowded temporary juvenile holding centers across the state are housing youth waiting to go into DCS custody, where will they go when the Commisoner fills the remaining facilities after Taft closes? We can all pray that our representatives stand up against the Governor and Ms. O'Day's carelessly thought out plan.

February 2, 2012 at 10:40 p.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

If Haslam can find 31 million to keep Hardeman open,even though it was scheduled to be closed, why want he help Taft? What's wrong with Bledsoe County? Is it because we did not give him a $9500 campaign contribution like Corrections Corp. of America? Hardeman Co. correctional Facility is managed by CCA. This is a publicly traded Nashville based business that manages prisons across the U.S. which recorded profits of 1.2 billion in the first 3 quarters of 2011. Our tax dollars can't be used to keep Taft open but they can be used to keep CCA open, a billion dollar a year company. Do we as taxpayers have no say in how our tax dollars are being used? Isn't this a contradiction of Haslams own words? Budget cuts he said aren't the most important things. Wasn't Haslam in Chatt. today? Wasn't he in Dunlap about a month ago? Why doesn't he come to Taft and talk to the employees and the students?

February 2, 2012 at 10:59 p.m.
pikeville said...

When dealing with business profits are the most important thing. When your dealing with corrections and hardware secure Juvenile Justice Centers, safety of staff and inmates are your top priority. By endorsing this plan every politician voting YES is saying " a bed is a bed, a child is a child" If they believe this they are as ignorant to Juvenile Justice as I am to Vector Analysis!! When you overcrowd prisons and jails serious problems will occur at tax payers expense. You have to have room to separate "blue from Red, Crazy from Sane, YOUNG from Old!! You have to have a pressure valve for your department. A place that specializes in predators. If you think Taft has only 20 'Bad Boys" I encourage you to tour. That is of course if the department will allow it ? The weak at Taft were sent by the others for being strong, and they're sending them to very place that sent them to Taft. If this proposal makes it to the floor for a vote, and it's approved citizens and parents get ready. The Bad Boys are coming for lunch and they will have an extra tray!!! If they get Aroused guess what they'll get?? The population at Taft averages nearly 18 years old, but the department is going to separate them?? Yea Right. Staff at the other facilities, you are well aware of what you are looking at. All I can say is here comes Taft's population and they have ill intent on their mind. Good luck reading them stories in the morning. Good luck DCS you'll need it. Wait, you will have it then!! What better way to show state JJ doesn't work? Close the best!!! It is a crying shame the politicians and citizens don't see this ,because its going to be the 13. 14 15 year olds who pay the ultimate price. Haslam I hope your plan to privatizing everything happens before someone is killed or raped. STREAMLINE GOVERNMENT MY ASS!!!

February 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
GC said...

This is a very interesting article. I, for one, did not know that $31 million dollars was found to keep the Hardeman facility open - a CCA facility. So this is where the Juvenile Justice system is heading - starting with the girls facility in Nashville. It is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY !! How much can we SAVE by contracting out services??? SAVE MONEY - NOT KIDS !!!! I cannot believe that anyone is thinking of closing Taft Youth Center which has always dealt with the most troubled and dangerous juvenile offenders in our state. I have sat tonight and watched several of the streamlined video hearings on our government website and CANNOT believe what I am hearing..Close Taft and open a 25 bed unit in Nashville to hold the violent offenders. Who will identify these youth and what are they going to do with the other 30 to 40 violent and multiple offending youth - not to mention the GANG MEMBERS! Guess they will just put them in the other centers with the 13, 14 and 15 year old kids. Many of these violent offenders were sent to Taft from the other facilities to begin with. This will most certainly prove to be a very DANGEROUS situation. Guess we can anticipate the Department of Children Services making MAJOR headlines in the future except this time it will most probably be a result of doing away with the facility that has, for years, managed the most troubled and dangerous kids! Again, to mix younger, more vulnerable kids with street wise gang members is a DISASTER waiting to happen. Please Governor, reconsider your position on this matter....for the kids of Tennessee - the dangerous and the vulnerable. I applaud the employees of this center, along with the representatives, senators and judges for the passionate attempts they are making to save this center. Their passion in their attempts to save Taft are the same as the passion they show EVERY DAY when dealing with the states most troubled youth....SAVE LIVES-NOT MONEY !!!!!!

February 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
BigTafter said...

StrongHaslam has said over and over in a nut shell that people of Tennessee want Tennessee ran like a business. In business faces and names do not matter only the botton dollar. I voted for Haslam and support many of his means. This one is a bad decision. Does anyone know who his insurance company is? Or O'Day's? I am sure Chrissy and Kate have discussed it over tea. We may be able to better Bledsoe county and its people with that information.......Funny thing is to all of this....I have told many of students at Taft that "prison is a money making business. Keep going at the rate you are going and a many of dollars will be made off of you." Dang they thought I was not telling them the truth until now. Now they see who wants the best for them and it is not the stock holders. Again I stand behind my challenge. Strong

February 2, 2012 at 11:12 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

This thing about the graduation not being held due to the short notice is all a bunch cya. For many years we have had them like clock work because we have students that have earned their GED's and deserve to walk thru graduation.The sad thing about this sitution is that two of the students have went home and want get to walk in graduation because of the people in central office! Now who is there for the children sure not O'Day and her staff. Those two students will never w get the chance again to walk thru a graduation and who knows that might have been a life changing moment.The education staff at Taft encourged those students to get their education and they would walk in the graduation and Nashville let them down imagine that. Many students have been their for alot of months in the past because they didn't do their program at first, but woke up one day and decided to grow up and start do their program and get their education and return home.Even some students that had a chance to leave up to two months early, stay two months longer than they had to just to get their Ged or get all their gateways done so when they got out they could get their GED on the outside of the YDC.Sounds like to me O'Day needs to quit making up lies and get in the field and learn how the YDC's operate, because she doesn't have a clue. In the meeting in Nashville Feb. 1st she stated that the younger students would be seperated from the older kids and that Taft had two different type of kids and that they were in two different groups. She was for once partly right, Taft does have different type of students but she was wrong when she stated they are seperated, because they are not and alot of both type students live on the same dorm. If O'Day closes Taft you the tax payers are going to pay dearly because when you mix 18 to 13 to 14 year olds living in the same unit some young student will get hurt and maybe even a staff member.I hope I am wrong but the past leans toward that it will. Strange thing about this sitution O'Day or Haslam don't have children in the sitution that some parents are going to be in if they close Taft and don't seem to care. It's all about the money, what children oh those children. All I can say is come on down we have a blue shirt that will fit them and will have to get the yellow on the back put on. For someone who is so set on closing Taft O'Day toured the campus and went thru like a tornado and never slowed down to really look because she allready had her mind made up about Taft, and Haslam has never even been there and once was just approximately 30 minutes away and was on his way home but didn't have time. That shows how much of a class act he is, not!!! Also for O'Day's cronnie Ms.Russell if I wanted to work for TDOC I think I would already been working there don't you think. I wish they would quit using the new prison as a pawn and why cut 169 jobs to try to fill 400 and instead have 569. Oh that's right there not to good in math my bad!

February 2, 2012 at 11:26 p.m.
BigTafter said...

justsaying94...according to the website there is only 250 jobs being created at the new prison. I believe that the decoy to move Taft staff that cooperates is a decoy to terminate the ones that don't. It would be easy to terminate staff in the first 180 days for not being fit for the job after all they prefer and do work best with children. My challenge stands

February 2, 2012 at 11:38 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

I hear you Big Tafter that is why I don't see myself going there because that's what they want me to. Last time I checked I am old enough to choose were I want to go and Ms.Russell or O'Day want help me go nowhere. You know what they say the grass isn't always greener on the other side

February 2, 2012 at 11:52 p.m.
RebelBuck said...

As I watched the meeting from yesterday (posted online at it seems that O'Day and her staff know nothing of the daily operation of the institutions. She brought all those people with her and they still could not give a direct answer to any of the questions that were asked of them. Check out the link for yourself and watch the meeting and you make the decision for yourself if you think that the commissioner is competent or not.

February 3, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.
RealDeal said...

This administration is perplexing to me. I was at the Legislative Plaza yesterday for this hearing, and if I had a dime for every LIE, every 'I don't have that information in front of me', and outright denial of facts, I would be a billionaire. O'Day was so unprepared I had to ask myself HOW and WHY is she in Haslam's cabinet? O'Day herself, the big child advocate is missing the whole point. This is about treatment and rehabilitation of youthful offenders not MONEY. All she cares about is privitization and padding her pocket when her tenure with the State ends. Haslam, O'Day, Dawson and company are clueless about Taft Youth Center in so many ways! For YEARS, we have been targeted for closure. We have always done the most with the least amount of resources than any other YDC in this State. Why? Because we care!

If they are going to use dollars to justify their actions, the very least they could do is use TRUE, ACCURATE numbers. They stated that building costs are $300+ per square foot. I have checked, and that is a LIE. Building cost average between $125.00-$150.00 per square foot in Tennessee. Now unless they are using gold in the beams, I just don't see how they got these figures. I cannot for the life of me understand why Taft is always being victimized by the powers that be. Is it because they believe we are only capable of the 'mountain mentality'? Is it because of things that were alleged to have happened oh so many years ago? Or is it because if we are out of the picture, they makes it easier to go to the 'privitization' model? Yea, DCS tried that once upon a time, and it FAILED! I guess O'Day and company are unaware of that as they are so many other things about the department.
Taft measures up or exceeds any and all demands placed upon us by the powers that be. We are constantly scrutinized moreso than other facilities, but we take that in stride and continue to do what is asked, directed, and mandated. We do it without delay, comment or negative reactions. Even though we are all human beings, we are often treated as much less. Personaly, I'm so sick and tired of all of the lies, fuzzy math, vendettas, and discrimination. Taft has one of the most experienced work forces in this state and I feel because of this, that is more reason to target our closeure. There are fedreal laws that protect us on that avenue, but who is going to protect the youthful offenders that we serve? If our own administration can't protect these individuals, then please tell me who will? The losers in all of this are the students and the taxpayers. They can say closing us will save all this money, but you just mark my words. By the time they take our students, place them in less secure facilities, and then foot the bill for all the destruction that comes as a result of this ill thought out proposal, the cost is going to be in the tens of millions!

February 3, 2012 at 12:02 a.m.
RealDeal said...

One other thing that O'Day failed to mention yesterday. Regarding bed capacity and how low the institutions are, she didn't mention that the county detention centers are bursting at the seems with offenders waiting on a bed. I guess she is just letting them get used to how it will be IF they do close Taft. Yea, the emphasis will not be on treatment, it will be on bedspace. DISGUSTING! As they say, some folks don't have the common sense God gave a toad.

Oh, and another thing. Employees at the other YDC's had better get ready because they WILL have their hands full. IF they close Taft, that is yet another disruption in a teenagers life, and most all of us know how well that goes. I never realized how fareaching my sympathy could be, but I do now.

Prayers going up for our students, DCS employees, taxpayers, and our society as a WHOLE. This is going to get really bad, really quick.

O'Day and company have been warned about what is to come if this ill conceived plan is executed. There will be a lot of casualties and the collateral damage is already so great it can't be measured I'm afraid!

February 3, 2012 at 12:53 a.m.
what said...

The more that I hear Commissioner O'Day speak, the more incompetent she appears. It was pretty ridiculous watching her the other day. What was it...60% of the questions she was unable to answer. Of course she brought her experts with her, but where was her YDC "expert"? Hiding? Being hid out? Woodland Hills has been notorious throughtout the years of sending kids that they don't want to deal with or can't deal with to Taft. Who better than Albert Dawson to have there to confirm that. How many kids in the last couple months have been promtly sent to Taft for beharioral reasons, assaulting staff and other students? I know, but it sure doesn't seem that Mrs. O'Day knows anything about YDC's. Mr. Cook, I for one sure am glad that you mentioned CCA as I feel that this is the route the entire state is heading. It won't be long before the prison system in TN is taken over by contracts as well as the YDC's if we keep Haslam and O'Day around. I for one am ready to BOYCOTT PILOT gas stations. If you don't know the connection that's Haslam's family business.

February 3, 2012 at 8:08 a.m.
outthere said...

Let's start from the top. We get the privilage of paying O'Day $12,000.00+ a month. It appears that we have been paying a puppet for big business for over a year now. It is obvious that she is either incompidant, or smart like a fox. At any meeting she is called to, she either doesn't recall when asked a question, or doesn't have the information. I would hate to know that I had an employee that was that ignorant. Does she think that the public is that dumb?? Let's look at the situation. She/Haslem want to close Taft. Oh, we're going to send the students there to the OTHER institutions. Taft got over half of the students they have now from other institutions because they were violent/aggressive there and they couldn't control them. What has changed?? What will change is that with Taft closed, there will be no place to send the unruly students that the other institutions can't control. Smaller kids will get hurt, employees will get hurt and she will have developed the perfect scenio to privatize all of the institutions, and I would bet my last paycheck she owns stock in CCA!! The arrogant commissioner says she will make mace available to the other institutions, yet doesn't even know her own departments policy. She cannot authorize mace, that approval would have to come from Davidson County Court. (see Doe vs. State of TN.) I understand that there are over 150 kids in Davidson County Juevenile Detention, over 100 at Putnam County Detention and at Columbia Detention the kids are sleeping in the floor. And the department will not accept any of them into the system. HUH?? She says that the department should be run efficently, and at capacity... add 250 + kids to the equation and the whole picture changes. What's up with that? Real easy to see that either she doesn't have a clue about running the department, or is deliberately colapsing the department from the inside out! Haslem, if you want to streamline government, eliminate about half of the 27 pages of employees for DCS central office, starting with your wife's buddy at the top!

February 3, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.
doodle said...
  1. List item
February 3, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
what said...

The ydc's have always been the red-headed step-child of DCS. juveniles commit crimes...some very violent crrimes. therefor YDC's are a necessity. haslam & O'day apparently want to eventually contract all they can. contracting the best thing for the kids??? Is cheaper always better? B Reminds me of an AC/DC song "dirty deeds done dirt cheap

February 3, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
Crossville said...

I think GC said it best, "SAVE MONEY - NOT KIDS!!" is very obviously the intent here or Taft would not even be considered to close. And as for the Deputy Commissioner Albert Dawson, I would say that he was told not to be there so no questions could be answered to be honest. After all he IS the Juvenile Justice YDC Specialist, right? HA!!! I wonder if he will show in a week and a half when it is set to be met on again. hmmmmm.. I will definitely be anticipating the meeting to see what happens this time. I sure hope more questions are answered. The only thing that was able to be answered was an obviously prepared answer to "Why Taft". Of course, the answer wasn't the truth AT ALL!

February 3, 2012 at 10:06 p.m.
BigTafter said...

Ms O'Day....the offer still stands....but i did notice we didnt see you today.......come on show us you have the guts......2nd shift awaits your presance here at taft

February 3, 2012 at 10:51 p.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

Haslam/O'Day just how much is it going to cost to provide your "separate, free-standing program", at the children's services new visions facility in Nashville for the students transferred from Taft. I understand that there is no safety locks nor fencing around the perimeter at this institution. "COSTS" isn't this your big problem with Taft. What is the contract going to cost for the girls to go into private care. I don't think that you,O'Day, care about the future of the students that are supposedly your responsibility. Can you learn to drive a nail from a book? Can you learn to lay block from a book? Can you learn to weld from a book? Can you learn to be a barber from a book? Can you learn to be a mechanic from a book? Can you learn teamwork from a book? Can you learn any of this from a book, especially when you can't even read a book and nobody will take the time to teach you? We are stepping back into a time when we housed students then released them with no skills. Taft Youth Center challenges our integrity, our skills and our success rate against anything you can offer or have ever done.

February 4, 2012 at 12:24 p.m.
employee said...

This a tremendous article.. This needs to go to the major networks... CNN, MSNBC... They will find the real truth ...You know Ms Oday has money coming from the private sector. I really want to see if they some of the most violent students at New Visions..Answer this How long do you think they will stay.. How long do you think the staff will last.. No CDS No Fence... The students will not last a week there... GET A CLUE COMMISH!!!!!

February 4, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
shoe_chucker said...

sadly it sounds like Tennessee is getting what they asked for when they voted in all the republicans. makes me wonder which way the staff at Taft voted last time around?

February 4, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.
RebelBuck said...

Employee, you are right I would like to see someone like Anderson Cooper take this story and turn up the real truth. Let America see what the shape the state of Tennessee is really in and what is to come in the months ahead. It does appear that our elected offical and his appointed cabinet is preparing to do a detrimental service to our great state. Granted he did propose a good thing with the raise for state employees and the decrease in grocery sales tax (very small decrece but a decrease none the less), but cutting civil service protection, and not putting Taft Youth Center back in the budget. Read the front page article in today's Chatt Times, "gang issues" is the topic. Close Taft Youth Center and see what type of "gang issues" the city of Chattanooga will have including the surrouding cities. Even the small towns north of Chattanooga are having gang problems. That's really a smart choice, close a center that deals with young gang members, allow them to go elsewhere, possibly earn an early release and hit the streets running, back to thier old gang banging ways.

February 5, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

Has Taft given up or realized Haslam cares nothing for Bledsoe Co. and the state of Tennessee? Who voted for this ????? There was once a dictator named Hitler that said,"The bigger the lie the more people will believe it." Have we fell for the lie? Look what happened to Germany. But more importantly the lives it cost. I have yet to hear how this decision will make things better for the students. We are called the Volunteer State because we stepped forward and did what was right. Nothing promised, nothing gained except a good name. Have we become so uncaring that the almighty dollar is more important than lives. God Bless our Great State of Tennessee!!!

February 7, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.
shoe_chucker said...

and God educate our voters. i wondered aloud earlier which way you Taft staffers voted, and i will bet next weeks pay check that the overwhelming majority of you voted for Haslame and his republican underlings. turn off the fox news, turn off glenn beck, and turn rush off and educate yourselves.

those bastards cut taxes on millionaires and closed Taft to make up the difference. congratulations on voting yourselves out of a job.

February 8, 2012 at 12:34 a.m.
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