The KY juvenile justice facility is facing a police investigation, and a shooting despite promises of reform

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despite of reform promises in Troubled Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, She faced serious problems this year at a girls’ detention center in northern Kentucky, including excessive use of force by staff, failure to monitor suicidal youths and a recent alcohol-related firing of her director, according to a Herald-Leader review of state records.

Also, Kentucky State Police is investigating “possible criminal activity” involving a male correctional officer and one or more girls who were housed at Campbell Regional Juvenile Detention Center captured on security video on May 23 and May 30, according to Morgan Hall, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet. for justice and public safety.

Hall did not respond to questions to identify alleged wrongdoing in the incidents.

That officer was fired effective June 7, but “steps have been taken to ensure that the employee cannot re-enter the building after May 30,” Hall said. He did not work between May 31 and June 7 and was not allowed to contact the youth.”

Hall said officials at Campbell RJDC in downtown Newport were reviewing security video on May 31 when they saw the incidents. She said they have referred the matter to the state police as well as the Cabinet Internal Investigations Branch, both of which still have open cases. No charges were filed.

Reacting to a series of riots, assaults and breakouts at DJJ facilities, GA Reform legislation passed last winter to spend tens of millions of dollars on higher salaries for employees, enhanced security and better mental health services, among other measures.

DJJ has also hired two experienced prison guards into newly created positions – James Sweett as Executive Director and Larry Chandler as Executive Deputy Director of the Bureau of Detention – to make its facilities safer.

and Governor Andy Beshear announced last December that Campbell’s RJDC would house all teenage girls in state custody, thereafter Rape occurred During a riot at the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center.

But Bashir changed course in June. He said the girls would instead be sent to the Boyd County Jail due to severe staffing shortages in Campbell County. The boys being held in the Boyd County facility were transferred to Breathitt County.

Bashir said in a press conference: “This is a step that no one wants to take, to transfer the juveniles to different facilities, but this is the best opportunity for us to provide the utmost safety for them.”

“I really messed that up.”

For now, the Campbell RJDC Building—home to 19 correctional officers—will house local youths from northern Kentucky.

But it will do so under new leadership. DJJ Commissioner Vicki Reed has fired the facility manager, Craig McWhorter, effective August 12

In his dismissal letter, DJJ commissioner Vicki Reed told McWhorter that he violated policy by releasing a girl from custody on June 15 without asking the adult who collected her to provide identification or fill out the necessary paperwork. Instead, McWhorter told the girl to sign the adult’s name on the papers, Reed wrote.

Vicki Reed

Vicki Reed

According to the letter, department manager David Kazee, who is McWhorter’s supervisor, later confronted him: “So you had a kid visiting an official document?”

McWhorter replied, “Man, you really messed that up, didn’t you?”

One day earlier, Reid wrote, McWhorter had begun work at 1:22 a.m. noticeably stunned and smelling of alcohol in front of witnesses. When he was reminded—not for the first time—that policy prohibited him from entering the building after drinking alcohol, the supervisor said, “Well, it’s okay, I just came to the lobby,” Reed wrote.

However, Reed wrote, the lobby is part of the building. She also said that security video later showed McWhorter in the facility’s dining area interacting with a young man, implying that he had lied about his activities that morning, she wrote.

Hall said DJJ is interviewing applicants to find McWhorter’s replacement.

McWhorter could not be reached this week for comment.

Punching, cursing, pepper spray

Among the other problems documented this year at Campbell RJDC, according to state records:

During a restraint on January 23, a young worker grabbed a girl by the tail of her ponytail and punched her in the face while McWhorter put his arm on her neck and forced her face against a wall, an action he objected to even after security showed him the video, according to an internal investigation. The young worker was dismissed.

A young worker was terminated on February 11 due to “border issues with residents”. Two girls said they spoke to him on the phone from their unit at the facility, but internal investigators said they could not prove or disprove that he had contact with the girls outside of work. He refused to be interviewed by investigators.

McWhorter was criticized for a February 22 incident where a girl who was suicidal was left in a safe room unsupervised for an unknown period of time due to a severe staff shortage. A correctional lieutenant told internal investigators that this was “not uncommon,” even for young people at risk of suicide, the internal investigators wrote.

Internal investigators wrote that a contract nurse with University of Kentucky Health Care improperly withheld prescription medication and Medicare from the girls in March and lied about administering COVID-19 testing at the building level it was directed to administer. Hall said DJJ canceled that nurse’s contract with UK Healthcare.

The captain of the reformatory, who resigned as of August 15, was cited for letting a girl self-harm unsupervised at the suicide watch on March 8, allowing her to enter the medical office, break into a sharps box, obtain a used needle and stick herself. Her left wrist already injured, blood splattered on the floor.

Internal investigators wrote that the same captain used excessive force against a girl on May 3. They wrote that the girl was picking paint from the floor in her locked cell. The captain looked through the door and told her to stop and hand him the paint chips she had collected so far.

“Give me that thing, give me that, give it to me,” said the captain, according to a video of the incident.

The captain opened the door. When the girl extended her arm to hand him paint chips, he sprayed them with pepper spray oleoresin, also known as pepper spray, which is a painful inflammatory agent. I immediately dropped the paint chips. The captain kicked the door shut.

According to a video, the captain told his teammates: “You idiot, you won’t give it up.”

The girl spent the next 10 minutes behind a closed door, asking to be taken to the bathroom so she could wash her burning eyes, according to internal investigators. Finally, he helped the captain to escort the girl to the bathroom, and said to her, “If you behave, I will show you again, do you know what I say?” According to the video.

The captain told internal investigators that the girl earlier had been defiant and threatening, so he felt justified in using pepper spray when he opened her cell door.

His explanation to investigators: “OC spray is new to the facility, and is paid as a first response, prior to physical and mechanical restrictions. He stated that OC spray may be used if the employee feels threatened.”

The overtime probation and parole officer at the facility was admonished for failing to perform a mandatory search of a girl who was admitted on March 30. The girl managed to smuggle in a marijuana smoking pen, which she later admitted to passing it on. population. Some of the girls later tested positive for marijuana.

Hall said the disciplinary procedures in this case are still under review.

A male correctional officer entered a girl’s cell at 3:30 am while she was apparently asleep in bed, lifted her legs from her ankles, dropped them and then fingered her on the head. The girl had just returned from the hospital and was on suicide watch.

The officer later told investigators that he was concerned by the girl’s self-harm attempts, so he went to her cell that morning to contact her. He said they had spoken in the past about her mental struggles.

Hall said this officer was “verbally trained” after the incident.

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