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Legal Abuse of Teenages in the USA

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This page is a copy from www.nospank.net It is an old file from 2003 which I just found. - S. Hein


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U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ralph Boyd's report on the youth training schools in Raymond and Columbia Mississippi evokes images of prisoner-of-war camps at their worst, but with this distinction: sadistic POW camp guards don't misrepresent themselves as agents of rehabilitation. In that setting, the rules of the game are clear to all parties: the torturers and the tortured know exactly where they stand. To the reader who thinks I am overstating the case, I ask you to withhold judgement until you have read Boyd's report.

Boyd describes a system out of control. He describes acts that even the most credulous observer could not deem rehabilitative, let alone safe. If those same acts were perpetrated against adults, prosecutions and convictions would surely result. And woe to any teenager who subjects an adult to even a small fraction of what the kids at these facilities endure daily. Because the victims are adjudicated juveniles, they are apparently disqualified for the normal protections of civilized society.

Don't be misled by those who will tell you that the two Mississippi training schools are anomalies. They are standard. They are emblematic of the break-'em-down-build-'em-up theory of youth rehabilitation which every true educator knows is neither educational nor therapeutic. It's obedience training and brainwashing. These facilities were just as rotten last year when nobody was looking, and they are no worse than many other similar institutions elsewhere.

What will happen now? If the past is any guide, official acknowledgement of the problem will be brief and subdued. Corrective measures will be mainly superficial. The establishment is just too riddled with enablers and accomplices to be able to deal decisively with systemic child abuse. The guilt runs deep and broad, resulting in moral paralysis. Expect a few resignations, transfers or early retirements, but no prosecutions. The most dangerous bullies will move on, and everyone will breathe a sigh of relief, hardly noticing the new bullies who arrive to replace them.

What will become of the displaced bullies? Old bullies never die. They slip away into the job market to surface again wherever opportunity beckons. You'll find them earning an honest living in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric wards, coaching youth sports, working as camp counselors, correctional officers, with the developmentally disabled - in places where their special skill sets are ideally suited (in their own estimation) and where they have the best chance of creating a niche for themselves. The worst of them change jobs often, but are rarely out of work for long.

After reading British journalist Decca Aitkenhead's recent exposé of Tranquility Bay*, a private institution in Jamaica for reforming errant children of the rich, Alice Miller remarked, "I believe these schools are creating a future generation of sadists." You can well imagine what she'll say after reading Boyd's report below.

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir., Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education        July 22, 2003

The Last Resort, Decca Aitkenhead, The Observer, June 29, 2003

Report by Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General submitted on June 19, 2003 to Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove

Pages 1-12
Page numbers correspond to the 48-page PDF link broken?



June 19, 2003

The Honorable Ronnie Musgrove
Governor of Mississippi
Office of the Governor
Jackson, Mississippi 39205

Re: CRIPA Investigation of Oakley and Columbia Training
Schools in Raymond and Columbia, Mississippi

Dear Governor Musgrove:

        On May 8, 2002, we notified you of our intent to investigate the Oakley Training School in Raymond, Mississippi (“Oakley”) and the Columbia Training School in Columbia, Mississippi (“Columbia”) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 (“CRIPA”), and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. Consistent with the statutory requirements of CRIPA, we are writing to report the findings of our investigation. At the outset, we wish to express our appreciation for the complete cooperation of the staff at the facilities, the Department of Human Services, and the Attorney General’s Office during this investigation.

        On June 24-28, 2002 and July 16-17, 2002, we conducted onsite inspections of Oakley with expert consultants in juvenile justice administration, psychology, medicine, education, and sanitation. On July 29-August 1, 2002 and September 25-27, 2002, we inspected Columbia with all but the sanitation expert consultant. We reviewed documents including, but not limited to, policies and procedures, incident reports, medical and education files, and facility maintenance records.

We find that conditions at Oakley and Columbia violate the constitutional and statutory rights of juveniles.

        We find that conditions at Oakley and Columbia violate the constitutional and statutory rights of juveniles. Youth confined at Oakley and Columbia suffer harm or the risk of harm from deficiencies in the facilities’ provision of mental health and medical care, protection of juveniles from harm, and juvenile justice management. There are also sanitation deficiencies at Oakley. In addition, both facilities fail to provide required general education services as well as education to eligible youth as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1401, et seq., and Section 504 of the


Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Finally, we find that Oakley and Columbia violate the youths’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to engage in religious activities.


        The Mississippi Department of Human Services operates Oakley and Columbia through the Division of Youth Services. The average length of stay for youth in the training schools is two to three months, but some youth may stay up to six months or longer. The majority of youth committed to Oakley and Columbia are nonviolent offenders. For example, 75 percent of the girls at Columbia are committed for status offenses, probation violations, or contempt of court. The majority of boys at Oakley are committed for property offenses, lower level drug possession charges, or auto theft charges.

        Youth offenders who are mentally ill or have mental retardation are to be committed by the Mississippi youth courts1 to rehabilitation facilities operated by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. See MS ST §§ 41-21-109; 43-21-611. Thus, we were told that youth with mental illness or mental retardation are not confined at Oakley or Columbia. As discussed in greater detail below, this is not the case.

A. Description of the Facilities

1. Oakley Training School

        Oakley Training School, also known as the Mississippi Youth Correctional Complex, sits on approximately 1,068 acres of land surrounded by agricultural fields in Raymond, Mississippi, which is approximately 30 minutes outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Oakley is designed to function as a paramilitary program for delinquent boys2 and is comprised of three operational units,


1 Mississippi youth courts are divisions of either chancery or county courts and have original jurisdiction in proceedings involving delinquent, neglected or battered children.
2 Reportedly, the program imposes a military style discipline on youth and is purported to promote a “vigorous physical fitness training program.”


Unit One, Unit Two, and Ironwood. Boys housed at Oakley range in age from 10 to 17. At the time of our visit, 336 boys were committed to Oakley.

        Unit One is a large, under-utilized, self-contained building with a housing capability of 275. Enclosed in a secure perimeter fence, Unit One contains the intake unit with approximately four separate cells, a medical infirmary, its own school, a small modern gym, and outside recreational space. The intake unit is where youth sent to Oakley are processed and evaluated, and contains 11 separate living units known as pods, each designed to hold approximately 20 juveniles. Each pod has a locked correctional officer’s control room designed in a manner such that no interaction between line staff and juveniles can occur. During our visit, only three of the 11 pods were operational due to staff shortages.

        Unit Two consists of several unfenced buildings in a traditional juvenile detention campus setting with a freestanding school, vocational shops, a large cafeteria, a chapel, and open space used for parade and military training. Unit Two has eight living units known as cottages. The cottages hold between 24 to 32 juveniles. Unit Two also has a separate unit known as the Special Intervention Unit (“SIU”) for youth with behavioral and disciplinary problems, and youth who are suicidal. The SIU has 14 locked single cells and a large unfurnished day room that is adjacent to the staff control room. During our visit, approximately seven youth were confined to the SIU.

        Ironwood, the third unit on the Oakley campus, is a freestanding building housing boys aged 10 to 17. Ironwood is described as a 90-day, therapeutic intensive treatment unit for boys with behavioral problems from Units One and Two at Oakley and transfers from Columbia. It is a self-contained maximum security unit purportedly used for the most aggressive juveniles. Youth who are considered difficult, have attempted to escape, have been involved in assaults, or have serious emotional or mental health problems are housed there. Ironwood can house 25 youths in locked single cells. Nineteen boys were confined in Ironwood during our visit.

2. Columbia Training School

The Columbia Training School, located in Columbia, Mississippi, is approximately two and one-half hours northwest of


Gulfport, Mississippi. Like Oakley, Columbia sits on over 1,000 acres of land in an unfenced agricultural setting and purports to use a military model for delinquent youth. Columbia, comprised of several housing and administration buildings encircling a large field in a cottage setting, has a medical clinic, a freestanding school with a cafeteria, a chapel, and a gym. Columbia houses girls aged 10 to 18 and boys aged 10 to 15. During our site visit, 196 youth were committed to Columbia, 92 girls and 104 boys.

        Columbia has two secure housing units, one for boys and the other for girls, used in the same manner as the SIU at Oakley with the added function of serving as the intake units for all Columbia youth. The boys’ population in an SIU unit called McGehee varied from seven to 12 during our tour. The girls’ SIU population in a unit called Cleveland ranged from 10 to 12. During our visit, only four residential cottages were being used and only one of those housed girls, Hammond Cottage. Hammond Cottage, designed to hold approximately 40 girls, has two divisions: one side of the cottage houses girls rotating through the basic training program and the other side houses the advanced training programs. During our visit, the basic side of Hammond housed 43 girls and the advanced side 37 girls. Many girls had bunks in the hallways due to overcrowding. Boys were housed in the other three cottages -- Rouse, Hugh-White, and Burrow. Rouse is a boys’ basic program cottage for new commitments and housed 28 boys during our visit. Hugh-White is for basic program participants who are re-committed to Columbia. Hugh-White housed 27 boys during our visit. Burrow is for boys in the advanced phase of the program and housed 40 boys.

B. Legal Background

        Youth adjudicated delinquent have a right to reasonably safe confinement conditions and, at a minimum, should have the same constitutional protections as adult pretrial detainees. See Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 315-16 (1982) (holding that a person with mental retardation committed to the state’s custody has substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment); Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-36 (1979) (Fourteenth Amendment standard applies to pretrial detainees); Gary H. v. Hegstrom, 831 F.2d 1430, 1432 (9th Cir. 1987) (applying the Fourteenth Amendment standard afforded adult pretrial detainees to juveniles); Morgan v. Sproat, 432 F. Supp. 1130, 1135-36 (S.D. Miss. 1977) (in a case involving the rights


of youth confined at Oakley, the court held that juveniles adjudicated delinquent are entitled to substantive due process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment); see also Morales v. Turman, 383 F. Supp. 53, 120 (E.D. Tex. 1974) (“all juveniles . . . are constitutionally entitled to care that at least conforms to minimal professional standards,”), rev’d on other grounds, 535 F.2d 864 (5th Cir. 1976), rev’d, 430 U.S. 322 (1977) (per curiam), on remand 562 F.2d 993 (5th Cir. 1977 (court did not reach definitive holding regarding existence of right to treatment), on remand 569 F. Supp. 332 (E.D. Tex. 1983).

        Adjudicated youth have a right to adequate education instruction. See Morgan v. Sproat, 432 F. Supp. 1130, 1140-41 (S.D. Miss. 1977). Eligible youth also possess federal statutory rights to education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq. See Alexander S. v. Boyd, 876 F. Supp. 773, 788 (D.S.C. 1995).


        Youth at Oakley and Columbia are confined in unsafe living conditions and receive inadequate treatment and care. These conditions exist mainly because of staff shortages, ineffective management and supervision at every organizational level within both facilities, and the facilities’ emphasis on control and punishment instead of rehabilitation.

Oakley and Columbia do not have any system of positive incentives to manage youth, but instead rely on discipline and force. This leads to unconstitutionally abusive disciplinary practices such as hog-tying, pole-shackling, improper use and overuse of restraints and isolation, staff assaulting youth, and OC spray abuse.

A. Protection from Harm

        Oakley and Columbia do not have any system of positive incentives to manage youth, but instead rely on discipline and force. This leads to unconstitutionally abusive disciplinary practices such as hog-tying, pole-shackling, improper use and overuse of restraints and isolation, staff assaulting youth, and OC spray abuse.

1. Abusive Disciplinary Practices at Columbia

(a) Hog-tying and Pole-Shackling

        The use of restraints without penological justification is cruel and unusual punishment. See Hope v. Pelzer, 122 S. Ct. 2508, 2514, 2518 (2002) (the unnecessary handcuffing of an inmate to a hitching post after his disruptive behavior ended violated


the Eighth Amendment). Youth reported and one staff member confirmed incidents of hog-tying at Columbia in the boys’ and girls’ SIUs and in Hammond Cottage. Approximately 10 to 15 boys and girls consistently described the practice, where youth are placed face down on the floor with their hands and feet shackled and drawn together. That is, youths’ hands are handcuffed behind their backs. Their feet are shackled together and then belts or metal chains are wrapped around the two sets of restraints, pulling them together. A 13-year-old boy, in the SIU on suicide watch, told us that he had been hog-tied twice while in the SIU. Another boy told us that he was hog-tied for refusing to follow orders. Several girls in Hammond Cottage told us that either they had been hog-tied or they had witnessed other girls being hog-tied. They reported that girls are typically tied for three hour periods in the corners of the cottage and stated that girls were also hog-tied in the SIU. Girls also reported being hogtied in a SIU cell called the “dark room.”

        Contrary to Columbia’s policy that requires the documenting of all uses of restraints, the practice is not documented in incident reports or unit logbooks. When our expert consultant discussed the apparent discrepancy between youth reports and lack of incident report documentation, Columbia SIU staff either denied that these incidents took place or reluctantly admitted they may have occurred -- but not during their shifts. A senior manager claimed it had been a long time since hog-tying had occurred because the practice was “inhumane.” However, one relatively new SIU staff person stated that hog-tying had occurred in the boys’ SIU a few months prior to our visit.

Thus, we have reason to believe that hog-tying occurs at Columbia despite the lack of penological justification or therapeutic or rehabilitative benefit to hog-tying.

        Thus, we have reason to believe that hog-tying occurs at Columbia despite the lack of penological justification or therapeutic or rehabilitative benefit to hog-tying. Columbia’s own policies prohibit the use of restraints as punishment. Columbia youth consistently reported another abusive restraint practice. Youth reported that they had either observed or experienced having their arms and legs shackled to poles in public places. For instance, one young girl reported that her arms and legs were handcuffed and shackled around a utility pole because she was non-compliant during military exercises. The rest of the unit was forced to perform military drills around her. The youth was shackled for at least three hours, released for lunch, and briefly shackled again. This incident was witnessed and similarly described by other youth, both boys and


girls. Another girl reported that two weeks prior to our visit, she was shackled to a pole for talking in the cafeteria. Still another girl reported that she was shackled to a pole for approximately four hours because she did not say, “Yes, sir,” on command. Again, this practice is not documented in incident reports or unit logbooks in violation of Columbia’s restraint policy. Not only is this abusive practice in violation of Columbia’s policies, it is unlawful.

(b) The girls’ SIU

        Girls in the SIU at Columbia are punished for acting out or for being suicidal by being placed in a cell called the “dark room.” The “dark room” is a locked, windowless isolation cell with lighting controlled by staff. When the lights are turned out, as the girls reported they are when the room is in use, the room is completely dark. The room is stripped of everything but a drain in the floor which serves as a toilet.

        Most girls are stripped naked when placed in the “dark room.” According to Columbia staff, the reason girls must remove their clothing before being placed in the darkroom, is that there is metal grating on the ceiling and the cell door which could be used for hanging attempts by suicidal girls. Such suicidal hazards should be remedied rather than requiring suicidal children to strip naked.

        One girl told us that the weekend prior to our visit, she was placed naked in the “dark room” from Friday until Monday morning. She stated that she was allowed out of the cell once a day to take a shower, but received all her meals inside of the cell. Another girl told us that in July 2002, she was placed in the “dark room” with the lights off for three days with little access to water as her requests for water were largely ignored.

        While facility administrators told us that this room is rarely used and if used, for no longer than a few hours at a time, a number of girls reported being locked in the cell for as long as three days to a week. There is no separate log book to record the use of the “dark room” to substantiate the administrators’ claims regarding the length of time the darkroom is in use. To the contrary, log book entries for a three-month period for the girls’ SIU indicate that the dark room often is used overnight or over the weekend, particularly when the SIU is


overcrowded, as well as used for punishment and for suicidal girls.

        During our visit to the girls’ SIU at Columbia, there were 14 girls present. Nine of the girls had been locked in bare cells for more than a week; one girl had been locked in a bare cell for 114 days. The conditions we observed in the SIU are particularly inhumane. The cells are extremely hot with inadequate ventilation. Some girls are naked in a dark room where they must urinate and defecate in a hole that they cannot flush. Restraint chairs are use for punishment in violation of Columbia’s own policy and procedures manual.3 OC spray is sometimes used in response to a youth’s minor misbehavior. As discussed earlier, sometimes, girls are hog-tied. Girls are often not given access to basic necessities, such as water, personal hygiene items, and bathroom facilities, and girls are

Youth are awakened in the middle of the night, required to get dressed, and walk inside the cottage for hours with their hands to their heads

not given sufficient mental health services. Given the significant number of juvenile girls in Mississippi juvenile facilities who suffer from various forms of mental disorders, particularly separation anxiety disorder,4 the use of the SIU in its present form should be banned at Columbia.5

(c) Other abusive practices at Columbia


        3 Columbia’s policy states that a restraint chair should only be used if extreme force is necessary and that restraints, in general, must not be used to punish. Generally accepted professional standards mandate that restraint chairs be used only for youth whose self-destructive or dangerous behavior cannot be controlled safely in any other way; they should never be used as punishment.

        4 Girls in Mississippi juvenile justice facilities are five to seven times more likely than boys to have a depression disorder, and are two to five times more likely than boys to meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder. Angela Robertson & Jonelle Husain, Prevalence of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders Among Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders 27-28 (2001).

        5 See Lollis v. New York State Department of Social Services, 322 F. Supp. 473, 482 (S.D.N.Y. 1970) (two-week confinement of a 14-year-old girl dressed in night clothes in a bare cell with no recreational facilities or reading matter is cruel and unusual punishment). overcrowded, as well as used for punishment and for suicidal girls.


Girls are punished in the military field by being forced to run with automobile tires around their bodies or carrying logs. Girls reported being forced to eat their own vomit if they throw-up while exercising in the hot sun.

        Youth at Columbia describe a number of abusive practices imposed by staff. For example, youth report “sitting in a chair,” in which youth are required to assume a sitting position while holding their backs up against the wall with knees bent for as long as 20 to 30 minutes. Youth also are forced to perform “guard duty.” Youth are awakened in the middle of the night, required to get dressed, and walk inside the cottage for hours with their hands to their heads (similar to a military salute) from bed to bed. In June 2002, according to the SIU log book, a staff person was given permission to awaken the boys at midnight, take away their mattresses and covers, and force them to perform “guard duty.” Boys housed in the cottages are sent by drill instructors to the SIU during the day for punishment for failing to perform exercises. SIU staff confirmed that boys’ punishment may last for hours and consists of running around tables in the SIU day room with mattresses on their backs. Girls are punished in the military field by being forced to run with automobile tires around their bodies or carrying logs. Girls reported being forced to eat their own vomit if they throw-up while exercising in the hot sun.

        Our juvenile justice expert consultant observed a cottage staff person punish an entire cottage by forcing youth to run inside the dorm room silently for at least 25 minutes while other youth showered. We learned that prior to our visit, one youth had broken his toe by hitting it on a bed while performing this exercise.

        These exercises and disciplinary practices serve no penological or rehabilitative purpose. Many are cruel and demeaning.6 They also are unsafe because, as our expert noted, when this type of physical punishment is imposed, the facility does not monitor the physical well-being of the youth.

2. Abusive Staff

(a) Assault


        6 See Morales v. Turman, 364 F. Supp. 166, 174 (E.D. Tex. 1973) (subsequent history omitted)(“Requiring [youth] to maintain silence during periods of the day merely for purposes of punishment, and to perform repetitive, nonfunctional, degrading, and unnecessary tasks for many hours . . . constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”).


        Based on our interviews with youth, our observations during the tours, and review of documentation provided by the State, we find that staff at Oakley and Columbia use excessive force with impunity.

        At Oakley, more than half of the youth in Ironwood reported that staff had physically abused them. In Unit One, a number of youth reported, and some line staff confirmed, that youth who are re-committed to Oakley are taken to one of the isolation rooms in the intake area and punched and slapped by staff as punishment for being re-committed. Youth reported in Unit Two that staff hit and physically assaulted other children. One such incident was confirmed by staff members who reported that approximately two weeks prior to our visit, a school counselor physically abused a youth. This youth was choked by the counselor and sent to Ironwood based on the counselor’s recommendation to the facility director. The youth never received a hearing. We were told by staff and youth that the counselor would never be held accountable for the incident. Indeed, we received no written incident or investigative reports concerning this incident.

        When asked why abuses were allowed to occur at Oakley without consequences to staff, we were told that staff shortages inhibited the facility administration’s ability to follow-up on youth’s complaints. Staff also stated that some staff abused youth with impunity because they were favored by the administration. When asked why staff did not report these allegations, most staff responded that they feared retaliation. In other cases, youth did not file complaints because they believed that their concerns would not be investigated or addressed. During our second tour of Oakley, we observed a general assembly conducted by administration officials where a number of the youth voiced concerns about being assaulted by staff. For example, one youth stated that a staff person had shoved his head into a toilet. The youth wanted to know how the administration would respond to complaints. One administrative official responded that youth were not allowed to defend themselves against staff who assaulted them.

        In the girls’ SIU at Columbia, staff reportedly have hit, choked, and slapped girls. For instance, girls reported that a ten-year-old girl was slapped by a male security guard. A young boy in the boys’ SIU reported that before being taken to the SIU,


security slapped him twice in the face and placed his neck in a “sleeper hold.” 7

(b) OC Spray Abuse

        Both at Oakley and Columbia, staff practices regarding the use of OC spray amount to excessive force. According to the facilities’ policy, OC spray may be used in only three situations: to “quell a riot”; or to “prevent further injury when students are fighting” and all other efforts to resolve the fight have failed; or if a youth possesses a device “clearly intended to be used as a weapon and refuses to disarm.” Incident reports and youth complaints reflect that youth are sprayed arbitrarily and in violation of facility policy and law. See Alexander S. v. Boyd, 876 F. Supp. 773, 786 (D.S.C. 1995) (indiscriminate use of OC spray violates youth’s constitutional rights. OC spray should only be used when there is a risk of serious bodily harm and no other less intrusive restraint is available). At Columbia, boys in the SIU reported that staff

A suicidal girl was sprayed because she refused to remove her clothes before being placed in the “dark room.”... boys are sprayed in the face while they were hog-tied.

sprayed under their locked cell doors and that staff sprayed boys in the face while they were hog-tied. Boys also told us that staff sprayed into the air while boys were doing exercises for punishment in the SIU. Incident reports make clear that suicidal youth are sprayed for their suicidal gestures and behaviors and that youth locked in isolation rooms who bang on the door of their cell are sprayed. A log entry for the SIU in May 2002 indicates that a suicidal girl was sprayed because she refused to remove her clothes before being placed in the “dark room.”

A 13-year-old boy was sprayed because he did not perform exercises. Reportedly, he was punished further by being forced to do 100 squat thrusts, 100 push ups, and 100 jumping jacks.

        Youth at Columbia reported that staff routinely sprayed youth for failing to perform military exercises. Our review of incident reports confirms that OC spray is used for this purpose. For example, a 13-year-old boy was sprayed because he did not perform exercises. Reportedly, he was punished further by being forced to do 100 squat thrusts, 100 push ups, and 100 jumping jacks. One girl, prior to being sent to the SIU, had difficulty keeping up with the group during exercise in the parade field. She yelled to a staff person that it was hot and to “shut up talking to me.” Security was called and she was sprayed in the face. Youth also talked extensively about “running the ridge,” a


        7 Youth told us that in order to be placed in a sleeper hold, a security officer stands behind a youth with his arm around the neck of the youth, cutting off the ability to breath.


form of intensive running on the campus grounds.8 Youth who refuse to run the ridge are reportedly sprayed by staff.

        On the Oakley campus, staff at Ironwood and Unit One use excessive force, spraying OC to control youth who misbehave or who are noncompliant. For example, a youth in Unit One was sprayed for refusing to go into his cell. In another case, two youths were sprayed in Ironwood as they engaged in horseplay.

        Finally, based on our document review and conversations with staff and juveniles, OC spray use at both facilities often is undocumented and unreported. We find that OC spray is used regularly at both facilities for minor infractions or for punishment.

3. Investigation of Abuse Allegations

Oakley and Columbia do not have systemic internal and external review processes of abuse allegations to ensure that investigations are conducted thoroughly and objectively.

(a) Internal Review

        All abuse allegations are not being investigated internally at the facilities or by the Division of Youth Services. Oakley and Columbia share an investigator who investigates allegations of abuse, when reported to him by the facility administrators. The investigator also functions as the “military coordinator.” The investigator conducts a limited perfunctory investigation and submits brief investigative reports and summary recommended courses of action to the Director of the Division of Youth Services for approval. However, the investigator’s authority to conduct abuse investigations is not clearly defined. As a result, we found that Oakley and Columbia administrators are not held accountable if they fail to report all allegations to the investigator.

        In addition, youth reported feeling prohibited from reporting abuse allegations. Youth at both facilities stated that they did not report staff abuse because they believed that


        8 “Running the ridge” is a practice where staff force youth to repeatedly run up and down the upper fields of the Columbia grounds at a fast pace.

Proceed to Pages 13-24