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Archive for Saturday, November 28, 2009

Letter claims conditions at Topeka juvenile facility are ‘inhumane’

November 28, 2009

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State officials are investigating a Topeka juvenile detention facility after receiving an anonymous letter claiming boys are housed in “inhumane and immoral” conditions in a segregation unit.

Someone purporting to be a social worker at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex sent the letter earlier this month to numerous governmental agencies.

The letter raises issues such as inadequate sleeping provisions, insufficient hygiene materials, a lack of medical treatment and placement of juveniles in isolation for long periods of time.

Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell said complaints against detention centers are common, and the letter’s claims are being examined.

“Not all investigations are made public, but we investigate any allegation of wrongdoing that we receive,” he said. “When we receive info that gives us cause for concern that requires attention of an outside agency — the attorney general, for example — we bring them into the process.”

Miskell said he doesn’t know when the probe would be complete and he wasn’t sure whether any of the conclusions would be made public.

The letter writer named five juveniles at the center who are experiencing poor conditions.

Juvenile Justice Authority commissioner Russ Jennings announced last month that he was implementing changes to the state juvenile justice system.

Under the changes, the agency will subject juvenile group homes and detention centers to twice-yearly outside reviews; reclassify facilities to be rated as low, medium and high-risk, and administer a statewide test to assess juveniles’ risk of reoffending.

Miskell couldn’t say how many investigations happen at corrections centers each year, but he said they happen “frequently.”

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