Letters

There are many other instances but the point may be moot. I know he has been my friend for many years and still is, and I wish him the best; he earned it.

And I choose not to attend most concerts these days. Like Barry, I've had enough. I still enjoy helping out new local bands; they have yet to become greedy, self-centered assholes.

Tony Funches
Denver

Rebound on the Rebound
I guess I should be neither shocked nor surprised that Scott C. Yates's story "Bad Boys, Bad Boys," in the July 31 issue, used the "neglect" school of journalism. Neglect journalism is when reporters purposefully neglect to include facts that would make their stories more accurate, though less enticing to editors and their readers. While this method does enhance the story's excitement, it also misinforms and violates historical journalistic integrity.

Mr. Yates uses two extreme examples of troubled youth who at one point attended a Rebound program. Indeed, each of these stories is tragic and regrettable. What Mr. Yates fails to point out anywhere in his story is that the examples he used are exceptions. We readily admit that, despite the best efforts of our staff--some of the best treatment providers in juvenile programs--we are not able to help 100 percent of the boys who come through our doors. No one can claim that. Not other private operators. Not any state-operated program. If Mr. Yates has the 100 percent solution, we will hire him on the spot. What Mr. Yates fails to point out is that, of those youths we are able to track who have completed our programs, three out of four do not reoffend within a year. We're always working to improve that percentage, but it's a good start.

Quoting Loren Warboys, the director of the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, Mr. Yates allowed the statement that private juvenile program providers are not as accountable as publicly run programs. Wrong. Private programs are stringently monitored by a number of agencies, including the State Division of Youth Corrections, Social Services, the Department of Education, health and safety officials and more.

Mr. Yates's analysis of savings of private versus public operations is also in error, but this may be attributed to his lack of understanding of public financial reporting. The figures used by Mr. Yates for private operators include all capital, operating and administrative expenses. The figures he quotes for state operations do not include capital costs and a number of other services provided by other state agencies. If he had taken the time to compare oranges to oranges, Mr. Yates would have discovered a much larger difference in per diem between private and public, ranging in the $20 to $50 range.

Mr. Yates refers to the per diem cost of out-of-state placements, saying "prices are set by Rebound." The fact is, states set the budget range depending upon the services provided by the youth program. If a program falls outside of that range, the states do not send youth to the programs. Rebound does not control the price for juvenile treatment programs.

Mr. Yates bemoans Rebound's use of lobbyists at the state legislature. The fact is, all human services agencies and corrections programs, both public and private, are political. Political situations require politically savvy people in order to function appropriately. If Mr. Yates is not aware of this, he needs to spend some time at the Capitol, or check with his Colorado Press Association lobbyist.

If Mr. Yates is truly concerned about improving results of juvenile programs, he should look into the underfunded, understaffed, over-worked probation and parole program, where case workers have thirty or more clients each. Recent studies demonstrate that aftercare is where today's juvenile programs are failing. Youth who, through programs like Rebound's, gain the tools needed to succeed outside the juvenile system find it very difficult to maintain their newly learned behavior when they are returned to the same dysfunctional neighborhood or family where their trouble started. Congress, state legislators and responsible journalists need to focus on this critical issue.

As I stated earlier, we don't run a perfect juvenile program. Neither does anyone else. Try as we may, no program--public or private--is 100 percent effective. But because we can help six or seven out of ten learn to become productive citizens, it is a better world for us and them.

Jane O'Shaughnessy
CEO, Rebound

Editor's note: Scott Yates, who already spends enough time at the Capitol, relied on figures that did include administrative and other expenses, so his examination of public and private expenditures did compare "oranges to oranges."

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
Westword
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com

Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html

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