The Texas Hope 2010 prayer guide recently made an appearance at a gathering of the joint House and Senate Oversight Committee of Criminal Justice in Austin. This note comes from Patricia Presley through Suzii Paynter:
I testified to a Joint House and Senate Oversight Committee of Criminal Justice. It was the first time I had ever testified before a legislative group. The Committee was hearing testimony on pilot programs designed to keep juvenile offenders at home and using Texas Youth Commission juvenile detention centers as a last resort. The meeting started late and was running towards 7 p.m. before I was called to testify. Why was I there to speak? The speakers before me had been a judge Chief Probation Officers for several counties, Executive Directors of TYC and TJPD, advocacy groups with statistics goals and objectives, timelines for completing or complying with legislation passed in 2007. Who was I to before this panel in between all these experts? Who was I speaking for before this panel?
I had done Bible mediation while waiting for the hearing to begin and my eyes found BGCT’s HOPE 2010 booklet and Day 7 had a quote from Coretta Scott King. She was recalling the burden her husband felt during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After a threatening and abusive phone call he had gone to the kitchen and prayed, returning from prayer, he told her he had heard a voice saying :”Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.” I do not claim an epiphany like Dr. King, but I who I was speaking before this committee and for whom I spoke. I spoke for Joshua who was committed to TYC in 2005 and had been transferred to West Texas State School (one of the units at the center of the horrible physical and sexual cases) for disciplinary reasons. Joshua was a Child Protective Services placement by the very judge who had testified earlier in the hearing. Joshua had many of the issues children in the system, acting out, and lying in hopes of being returned to his mother.
- Would the 250 question assessment tool, used by Greater Houston, have helped in identifying Joshua’s health problems? Would his ADHD have been clearly defined to help him succeed in an education setting? Could a Master’s level counselor availability to the entire family help prevent access to drugs from his biological father? Some many what if’s and so late!
I wonder about the 5 year old who told his pastor he knew his name was another name for Jesus, the 13 year old trying for his Eagle Scout and graduating from high school and going to college instead of a state jail facility. A damaged boy caught in a scandal ridden system that failed him, that missed saying goodbye to his great-grandmother and his grandmother’s funeral, he was who I was speaking for before this committee. I spoke not for a number or static, but a young man who still loves and hopes for better times. I spoke for Joshua, my great-nephew.