CT Child Advocate: Teen Detention May Prompt Suicide, Not Protect Public


In video footage from inside Connecticut's juvenile correctional facilities, a distressed girl screams as she is restrained on the ground in a corridor. She is left alone, and she ties a shirt tightly around her neck, tries to pull nail-studded wood off the wall and ultimately is taken out of the facility on a stretcher. In another video, a boy who had reported suicidal thoughts is restrained and left lying on the floor, alone in a room. The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange says a chart in an accompanying report from the state's Office of Child Advocate tallies 55 instances of suicidal or self-harming behavior during a year in the facilities.

The release of the video and report yesterday is the latest from the watchdog agency, which helped reignite a debate about the safety and efficacy of the facilities in July with a critical report on conditions. The discussion mirrors debates elsewhere about locking up juveniles and the services they need when they are confined. Connecticut is lauded as a leader in juvenile justice reforms and its decisions are likely to be watched carefully. Sarah Eagan, the state's Child Advocate, said many correctional facilities have evidence of self-injury, suicidal behavior and the inappropriate use of restraint. There's little data that the facilities work as a public safety measure. “If we're not seeing sort of rehabilitative, public safety bang for our buck and we are seeing a lot of risk and despair, the question that stakeholders and the state have to look at it is: How do we do the public safety work without doing harm to kids?'' she said.

Comments are closed.


You have Free articles left this month.

Want access to all our reporting? Subscribe for unlimited access or login.