Lax Oversight of Arizona Residential Teen Treatment Centers


The two agencies that regulate Arizona's juvenile residential treatment centers collect allegations of misconduct and safety issues inside the facilities, but do little to act on the information once it is in hand, the Arizona Republic reports. The state has taken little or no substantial enforcement action against any of Arizona's 11 Level 1 facilities, despite numerous reports of sexual misconduct, physical violence, repeated runaways, and other problems involving their mostly teenaged patients.

The chief regulatory agency's policies encourage the destruction of records containing the allegations after one year, making it nearly impossible for regulators to meaningfully analyze long-term trends or discern whether the facilities they monitor have ongoing problems. Representatives from several residential treatment centers contend they are tightly monitored by the state, and that their facilities are safe. The facilities, which treat children for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems, provide 24-hour nursing care, around-the-clock supervision and an on-campus school. They also can function as lockdown centers, much like juvenile detention.

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