Officials say a closed juvenile detention center’s history should not rule out repurposing it as a shelter for migrant children.
The Office of the Child Advocate released a scathing report Wednesday morning on the substandard conditions in state facilities for imprisoned and detained youth and called for an overhaul of the system.
The Connecticut Juvenile Training School — the product of bid-rigging, outdated thinking and poor execution by the administration of Gov. John G. Rowland — closed Thursday as the last three young occupants left the sprawling detention center for home or private residential facilities.
It’s been more than a year since Gov. Malloy said he would close the state’s controversial jail for juvenile offenders. Legislators received an update this week on where that promise stands – and the administration has yet to recommend an alternative.
The new strategy aims to keep youths – unless they are deemed a risk to the public – out of juvenile jail and in a less-restrictive group home or with their families, with appropriate support services.
The Department of Children and Families plan to close its controversial jail in Middletown relies on shrinking the pipeline of youths who need to be locked up – and opening a smaller, more therapeutic program, potentially in Hamden or Stratford for youth who still require a secure placement.
The agency’s concepts offer a preview of what a juvenile justice system might look like after the state closes its controversial jail for juveniles in Middletown.
The CTMirror story Juvenile Justice in CT: “What’s left after all the cuts” rings loudly in the ears of those of us working in the deep end of the system. The Connecticut Juvenile Training School, and the Walter G. Cady School educational component have been forced to operate with insufficient programming for the youth both within and outside the facility.
At the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS), workers compensation claims are soaring, mostly because staff is frequently injured putting youth in physical restraints. The Department of Children and Families and union officials told The Connecticut Mirror that restraints are necessary because youth at the facility are so difficult. They point to recent policies that removed many young people from CJTS, leaving only the most challenging youth at the facility. This reaction is disturbing on several levels and underlines the need to work toward closing CJTS.
Citing a minefield of obstacles to closing the state’s controversial jail for juvenile offenders, the governor’s budget and policy director said Thursday that previously announced plans to close the Connecticut Juvenile Training School by July 2018 may have to be pushed back significantly.
Updated at 7:30 a.m.
The number of youth incarcerated at the state’s controversial jail for juvenile offenders may have reached a record low, but the number of staff being injured in assaults or while physically restraining residents has shot up.
The following are three statements made by Connecticut Juvenile Training School employees at last week’s press conference following layoffs of about one third the staff at the facility.
Dozens of people gathered outside Connecticut Juvenile Training School Thursday to protest state layoffs that cut about one-third of the facility’s staff last weekend, creating what one union official called a “potentially life-threatening situation” for those still remaining.
Putting children’s needs first means using the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Walter G. Cady School as part of the toolbox. It appears that some, including those in positions of advocacy and legislation, would carelessly ignore the programs that are in place while trying to create a new and unfunded system.
With Connecticut’s controversial jail for young offenders slated to close within two-and-a-half years, state leaders have begun to contemplate what an alternative juvenile justice system should encompass.