Dozens of employees fired from Texas’ psychiatric hospitals since 2005 have been rehired for similar state positions, including jobs with juvenile offenders and people with profound disabilities. Most were terminated for routine problems like failing to show up for work or to disclose a criminal record, not for mistreating patients. But a Dallas Morning News analysis indicates some went on to commit abuse or neglect in their next jobs. An employee terminated from a Waco child psychiatric hospital in 2005 was hired by the Texas Youth Commission. In that job, he was punished for pushing a suicidal inmate face down onto a bed, forcibly undressing him and putting him in a straitjacket, even though the youth wasn’t struggling.
In another instance, an employee fired from a North Texas psychiatric hospital was hired in 2006 as a juvenile corrections officer, and was reprimanded for a brawl that broke out when she walked away from the youth she was supposed to watch. In all, The News’ review of employment records turned up at least 40 cases in the last three years where fired state direct-care workers were rehired – by Texas’ psychiatric hospitals, juvenile prisons or state schools for people with disabilities. Advocates say it’s troubling that the agencies charged with protecting Texas’ most vulnerable residents are hiring anyone who’s already been fired from a state direct-care job, regardless of whether they were abusive.