Under fire over questions about how youths are treated while incarcerated — and facing calls from advocates to close the state’s juvenile jails in Middletown — Department of Children and Families Commissioner Wednesday reaffirmed her commitment to keeping the locked facilities she runs open.
Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz has been asked to come before the state panel responsible for overseeing juvenile justice in the wake of two reports that detail problems at the state’s juvenile jails.
It is a tale of two state agencies that run Connecticut’s juvenile justice system. One is now under fire from child advocates and attorneys for mistreating incarcerated youth. The other agency once was, but is now considered a national model.
Sexual abuse. Physical abuse. Emotional abuse. Neglect. Sex Trafficking. Community violence. Violent deaths of family and friends.
This is just a partial list of the traumas that many – if not most – youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system in Connecticut have experienced in their short lives. No wonder that they become willing to act “by any means necessary” in order to survive and protect those close to them — even if this lands them in juvenile prisons such as the Department of Children and Families’ Training School for boys and Pueblo Unit for girls.
In a scathing 68-page report released July 22, the Office of the Child Advocate reported on its findings after an investigation of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School over the past 18 months. OCA conducted site visits and interviewed staff and residents; viewed videotapes; and analyzed facility reports, educational attendance data and treatment plans. The youth prison model embodied at CJTS can’t be fixed. CJTS should be closed and here’s why:
Recent reports concerning the Department of Children and Families, along with Commissioner Joette Katz’s long history of failure, misplaced priorities and lack of transparency and accountability, leave me with no confidence in her willingness or ability to openly and seriously confront critical issues within her agency. That’s why I felt compelled to call for her resignation.
Legislative hearings will be held to probe conditions and practices at the state’s jails for juvenile offenders after reports that they placed youths “at risk of physical and emotional harm.”
The state Department of Children and Families unveiled plans Monday to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion and expand clinical staffing and counseling at the state’s juvenile jails.
The Office of the Child Advocate’s report on the Connecticut Juvenile Training School reveals conditions requiring decisive action to keep youth safe. It is encouraging that the Department of Children and Families recently released its own report on CJTS acknowledging problems with the facility. Both reports leave me convinced that many of the youth at CJTS simply do not belong there.
The Office of the Child Advocate says in a new report that conditions at the state’s locked facilities for young juvenile offenders “place many youth at risk of physical and emotional harm.”
An expert’s review of DCF’s locked facilities for juvenile offenders highlights the successes of a juvenile justice system that incarcerates fewer youth than 10 years ago, but also raises questions about the adequacy of mental health services provided for at-risk youths both in and outside of jail.
A two-part series in the Connecticut Mirror this week asked the question of whether youth who break the law in Connecticut receive a second chance. It focused on the relatively small share of youth in the juvenile justice system who are placed in secure settings rather than the vast majority who receive services at home and in the community. What the article left out is that youths who are committed by Juvenile Court judges to the Department of Children and Families and placed at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School have received many second chances before that point.
With a goal of reducing the number of young offenders incarcerated by 20 percent in three years, Connecticut will need to both prevent youths from entering the juvenile justice system and make sure they don’t return when they leave. Second of two articles.
The Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. During its special session, the legislature will consider the governor’s Second Chance proposal, which aims to make sure that a minor criminal offense does not forever bar a person from success. Policymakers should take the opportunity of the special session to extend second chances to children as well. […]
When we use shackles in juvenile court, we are not seeing youth with a potential for reform. That is not juvenile justice. In fact, that is no justice at all.