After a teenage girl killed herself at the state’s old juvenile residence for juveniles, Connecticut vowed to build a state-of-the-art institution to house and care for difficult youngsters, some confined for committing minor crimes, says the New York Times. Six years later, at a cost of $200 million, the facility in Middletown, Ct., is up and running, yet virtually everything about it is under fire. Critics call it ill conceived, poorly planned, too expensive and, as flawed as the aged, run-down complex it replaced. Children live in cell-like rooms, with limited opportunities for treatment. The cost for each child is hundreds of dollars a night more than it would cost to put them up at comparable facilities elsewhere.
It was built in an unorthodox fashion, supervised by a governor’s appointee with little experience in construction and the building contract awarded to a firm with links to the administration of Gov. John G. Rowland. How the Connecticut Juvenile Training School was planned and constructed, how its programs were devised and who benefited are part of a federal criminal investigation into the administration of Mr. Rowland and a legislative inquiry into whether the governor should be impeached. A review of records and interviews with more than two dozen people involved in the project, or with knowledge of it, points to possible manipulation of the process by the Rowland administration.
The complex, viewed on tour provided by state officials, is forbidding, with prisonlike living quarters. Superintendent John Dixon acknowledged that his goal is to “soften this environment, to create a more therapeutic climate.” Connecticut taxpayers paid $57 million for the facility, which was supposed to hold 240 male and female residents. Instead, only boys are housed there.