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Juvenile Detention Center Abuse

Juvenile Detention Center Abuse

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Published by Monica Kempski

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Published by: Monica Kempski on Sep 30, 2010
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Monica Kempski

AMST204 Final Paper

Imagine-you share a cramped crowded jail cell with three others. You are sleeping on the cold floor because there is no bed for you. Suddenly, you hear intense shouting between a guard and detainee from the pitch blackness. Then, a thump and scream. Someone has been restrained to the ground. You are terrified- and seven years old. This is the case of several juveniles who are forced into correction centers. Several juvenile detention centers abuse and neglect their patients every day. In several cases, the mistreatment the adolescents in these facilities have resulted in gruesome deaths. These sickening results would normally receive extensive attention from the media; however, they do not. This is because many of the facilities in control do not want to endanger themselves as a business, and cover up the stories of abuse. With so many children s lives in danger, this abuse problem should rightfully be brought to people s attention by the media. Today, 140,000 youth offenders are held in detention centers (Cannon, & Beiser, 2004). Why do such a high number of children receive a criminal record worthy enough for a cell at a detention facility? It can be concluded that this is due to the increasingly troublesome lives of adolescents. In today s world, there have been an increased number of abused children in the home. From not receiving parental support or love, a child may be uncompassionate or wild, engaging in criminal activity to express their feelings from being abused. In fact, 26% of abused kids obtain an arrest record (Snyder, 1995). Poor conditions at home may also leave juveniles to be unruly and insecure, resulting in delinquent activity. Today, over 15 million juveniles live below the poverty line. This is partly due to the thousands of babies who are born to mothers under 18 years old and are unable to support themselves and their child (Snyder, 1995). Under these economic settings, families may only be able to afford

residence in the most dangerous and urban parts of town. With these areas come gang related crime. In addition, substance abuse is prominent in these areas. According to today s statistics, 23 million kids ages 12 and up are in need of drug rehabilitation ("The Truth about," 2009). Thus, several children are susceptible of engaging in unlawful dealing and use of drugs that would make him worthy of jail. Even at the time of their arrest, one third of detainees are under the influence of drugs (Snyder, 1995). A last influence of criminal activity is the high drop-out rate among adolescents. This is terrible because an idle child or teen has several hours of free time, in which he may engage in criminal action. What's more is that the above situations may not be the reasons why a child resides at a detention center. Presently in 33 states, youths are being held without any incriminate sentences against them at all (Cannon, & Beiser, 2004). These numbers are of autistic or mentally ill children that end up in detention facilities (Snyder, 1995). The children reside in the facilities because the parents feel unfit or unsure as to how to take care of a child with special needs. It is not the child s fault that a preexisting uncontrollable condition influences them to act unruly at times. Children like this do not have a properly developed state of mind and do not realize their actions. Thus, it is completely unfair for them to dwell next to criminals. These alarming fact calls upon the need of immediate media attention so the juvenile justice system can be reformed. Imagine a small child being horrified and subjected to such content for no reason. The average length of stay for a child at a public juvenile detention center is two weeks. In long term cases, a child can stay for up to six months (Snyder, 1995). During this time, many centers have used several cruel methods to try and rehabilitate their inmates. For instance, a facility can refuse education for unruly adolescents. Here, education is seen as a privilege rather than a requirement (Wright, & Wright, 2005). Denial of their rights is thus a punishment used to influence them into acceptable behavior. A person must also question this punishment because if a child is not educated,

how are they expected to succeed in life and improve their ways? A second process of detention centers is crisis intervention (Macht, 2005). Here, juveniles who are at a center for the first time get screamed at in the face by a corrections officer in hopes of frightening the child enough to make them have good behavior. Centers also utilize intense physical incapacitation to exercise control over their patients. To do this, centers use mechanical restraints such as handcuffs, anklets, security belts, and strait jackets. With these items, a child cannot move and is forced to physically submit to the worker. There are no time limits on these restraints, so a worker can leave them on the patient for whatever amount of time they wish (Snyder, 1995). There is extensive abuse within correction facilities due to unsupervised guards that should be addressed by the mainstream media. In an associated press survey, over 13,000 claims of abuse have been filed against centers (Mohr, 2008). These declarations include physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Several specific cases of physical abuse include beatings and pepper spray from workers, to the improper force of unperscribed medications (Gosztola, 2009). At a female adolescent center in Beloit, Kansas, a worker forced inmates to drink concoctions of mixed vomit and diarrhea (Hollingsworth, 2009). Mental abuse was documented when a California County center was busted for holding their patients in isolation rooms for over 23 hours a day for many consecutive months at a time. Finally, a particular sexual abuse case involves an officer who assaulted a boy. This man, Gilbert Hicks, grabbed and twisted a boy s testicles when he was troublesome in a lineup (Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, 2006). Poor conditions are also evidence of abuse. Over crowdedness in particular is a huge issue of juvenile detention centers. With the growth of the juvenile detention population, several centers are forced to function over their design capacity (Snyder, 1995). In result, juveniles are forced into undersized rooms and forced to sleep on the floors (Gosztola, 2009). It is pitiful that the corrections

facilities cannot find or bother with funding extra beds for the children. By sleeping on the floors, they are treated with like animals, and are completely stripped of their human identity. These children, whether guilty of crime or not, are human; therefore, they should be treated with respect. In countless individual cases, abuse has gone too far within juvenile detention centers. Across the nation, children of all ages have died in these facilities at the hands of the workers abusing their power, or simply not caring. The youngest child to succumb to a center s abuse was six year old Jimmy Kanda. He died of asphyxiation when he was tied to a wheelchair, and then strangled while he tried to break free. It is in the nature of a child of such age to cause some trouble, but is the trouble so ghastly as to be bound to a wheelchair? In another case, fourteen year old Martin Anderson was forced to inhale a lethal portion of ammonia. He died within hours. Did a worker seriously think that he could dispose of someone s life, playing God in such a cruel way? A different case of death was of Kyle Young. He was shackled and handcuffed, then was pushed into an elevator door by workers. The door opened and he plunged to his death. He was sixteen. In another case, eighteen year old Brandon Haldon was restrained in a straightjacket, held face down, vomited, and choked to death. Another disturbing case involved nineteen year old Melissa Neyman. She tried to escape out of a window, but got caught in her restraint straps and hung from the window for six hours before workers found her (CAICA, 2009). How could a worker who is supposed to be supervising their inmates fail to notice she was gone for so long? Unless the worker, like many others, simply didn t mind what happened to their patients Detention facilities do not fail to abuse the retarded to the point of their death. For instance, twelve year old Robert Rollins died of asphyxiation while being restrained. Beforehand, he was only yelling about his missing teddy bear. Another disturbing case involved Garret Halsey, a sixteen year old autistic who died of suffocation when six workers sat on his back to restrain him (CAICA, 2009). Imagine

being one of these children s parents-knowing that your child died innocent, and his only crime in life was being mentally behind. With immeasurable cases of abuse and poor conditions, how could the media have failed to cover this issue? This may seem unimaginably horrid of the media not to address this. However, they may have some defense. On one condition, people may not believe the cases of abuse that are filed. After all, these kids in detention facilities may make up their own problems to get out. Also, it can be understood that the media is not allowed to venture into the centers because of established privacy laws (Wright, & Wright, 2005). However, when an issue of such magnitude of abuse, death, and endangerment is at hand; shouldn t the media be suit to address it? A third defense of the media is that they may have very little evidence due to cover ups by the correction facilities. According to the 2004 Juvenile Resident Facility Census, suicide was the number one cause of death (Sickmund, 2007). The reason behind the cover-ups may be due to the risk of being fined, sued, or closed down. Correction facilities will report these deaths as suicides, and the mainstream media will not have a dirt exposing story on the abuse. However, the mainstream media cannot ignore the above deaths. These cases provide real evidence of the results of abuse and neglect, and should be enough for the media. It is nauseating that none of the voices of these children are heard by the public. Abuse in juvenile detention centers have become so drastic that it s a shock the mainstream media has failed to cover such a disgusting issue. With poor conditions, (involving both environment and staffing) come abuse and repetitive deaths. Therefore, numerous children s lives are at stake. Is one crime enough of a heinous deed to be subjected to immense abuse and possible death? If the media answers no to this question, they should rise up against the juvenile detention centers and expose their scum which they have successfully managed to hide for several years too long.

Works Cited- APA

(2009). The Truth about "rehab" & drug addiction: the reality is far from glamorous.. New York Times Upfront, Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+truth+about+%22rehab%22+%26+drug+addiction%3a+the +reality+is+far+from...-a0197233244 CAICA, Initials. (2009). Coalition against institutionalized child abuse. Retrieved from http://www.caica.org/NEWS%20Deaths%20Main.htm Cannon, Angie, & Beiser, Vince. (2004). Juvenile injustice. U.S. News & World Report, 137(4), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=107&sid=99d5ba59-52f1-4bb2-8e52fe4d28e4413a%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h &AN=13979585 Gosztola, K. (2009). Judges paid to send teens to juvenile detention centers. OpEdNews.com, Retrieved from http://www.opednews.com/articles/Judges-Paid-to-Send-Teens-by-Kevin-Gosztola090213-795.html Hollingsworth, H. (2009). As Reformatory shuts, horrors and haven recalled. Associated Press, Retrieved from http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hL1qlJoErTqJ1xPxBE27MBjEzggD9BHINC00 Macht, J. (Producer). (2005). Children behind bars [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/photoessays/juveniles/ Mohr, H. (2008). # 18 cruelty and death in juvenile detention centers. Project Censored, Retrieved from http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/18-cruelty-and-death-in-juveniledetention-centers/

Sickmund, M. (2007). Deaths of juveniles in custody, 2004.. Corrections Today, 69(1), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=103&sid=8e58c151-9474-4e1c-85d6768c561160b7%40sessionmgr110&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h &AN=24310310 Snyder, H.N. (1995). Juvenile offenders & victims:a national report [Reprinted 1996]. (Google Books), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=5Su26PgCU0oC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=juvenile+d etention+center+deaths&ots=yPDWl732yB&sig=bMfcmQaJXiFUyg3xk0_Xcu0OhX0#v=onepage& q=juvenile%20detention%20center%20deaths&f=false Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, Initials. (2006). State v. Hicks. Court report. Retrieved (2009, November 11) from http://www.state.hi.us/jud/opinions/sct/2006/27566.htm Wright, Bill, & Wright, Alice. (2005). No place for children: voices from juvenile detention (FlipKart.com), Retrieved from http://www.flipkart.com/no-place-children-steve-liss/02927019692sw3fq46vb#previewbook

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