Investigation reveals problems at state youth facilities - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Investigation reveals problems at state youth facilities

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Report released on Connecticut Juvenile Training School. (WFSB) Report released on Connecticut Juvenile Training School. (WFSB)
MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -

Teenage lives are at risk at two of the state's centers for troubled youth that's, according to a report released on Wednesday, by the office of the child advocate.

Eyewitness News dug deeper into the allegations and is at one of the Middletown centers where officials said multiple suicide attempts have been made.

The two facilities located on River Road are many times the last stop for troubled youths.

However, a recently released report says in some cases, laws were actually being broken in how the staff responded to incidents.

“Another couple of minutes and she may have died,” Sarah Eagan with the Office of the Child Advocate, said.

Those were just some of the horrors detailed by the Office of the Child Advocate about what goes on inside the walls of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and Pueblo. Both are correctional facilities for youth that have been through the system. 

“Some of them have experienced a lot of foster care, out of home placement and CJT and Pueblo are sort of the last stop on the train,” Eagan said

Eagan has been working on the year and a half long investigation. It started after concerned parents and workers blew the whistle. Officials relied on their testimony along with surveillance footage and in-person observations to compile these concerns. 

The population at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School is less than 100. Highlighted by the more than two dozen suicide attempts in a nine month period, the report said the state is failing them.

“Kids, who are in juvenile justice facilities, should be considered at heightened risk for suicide just because they are there,” Eagan said.

While no successful suicides have taken place, the report shows the risk is greater because there are blind spots in these buildings where cameras won't catch what's going on.

The cameras, however, did catch multiple instances of children being restrained and isolated unlawfully. Officials said that tactic was often used as an alternative to actual treatment.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy weighed in on the report on Wednesday.

“Listen, if I had been governor when John Rowland was governor, that facility wouldn't have been built,” Malloy said.

The Department of Children and Families admits there are shortcomings.  

"All these areas are being addressed by an improvement plan, which is now in various stages of development and implementation. Our vision...is to provide therapeutic programs that rehabilitate youth and increase their chances of being successful when they return to their communities,” DCF said in a statement on Wednesday.

Eagan says this report is not the first...but they're hoping it will be the last.

“There are remedies and I think it's an exciting time and opportunity to look at implementing some of those remedies here,” Eagan said.

Office of the Child Advocate will be checking up in the months to come. They're waiting on a timeline from the state as to when some of these concerns will be addressed.  

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