Investigation of Virginia detention facility finds treatment of detainees not abuse

Investigation of Virginia detention facility finds treatment of detainees not abuse
© Greg Nash

A state investigation of the treatment of immigrant teens at a Virginia detention facility found they were not abused or neglected, according to The Associated Press.

The probe, which examined the treatment of detainees at Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Staunton, confirmed allegations that the detainees were subject to restraint techniques including “strapping them to chairs and placing mesh bags over their heads,” the AP reported.

But investigators concluded that the treatment didn’t meet Virginia’s threshold for abuse or neglect, according to the news service, which cited a copy of the investigation’s findings that it obtained.

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The AP also reported that regulators recommended a number of changes to improve conditions at the facility, such as providing better care for detainees suffering from mental health problems and hiring more bilingual staff members.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in June directed state officials to investigate the detention facility after allegations of abuse during the past few years surfaced. Northam’s order came after an AP report that described detainees’ claims that they were beaten and placed in solitary confinement at the facility.

“If Virginia public safety officials find evidence of abuse or mistreatment at this facility, my administration will do everything we can to ensure the safety of these children,” Northam tweeted at the time.

On Monday, Northam said in a statement that he takes "these allegations very seriously."

“I applaud the quick and comprehensive examination conducted by the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Social Services, and encourage the facility to heed their recommendations," he said. "The safety of every child being held there is of the utmost importance.”