Report: Staff at Alexander Youth Lock-Up Incentivize Harrassment

- LITTLE ROCK, AR - A report from the Disability Rights Center of Arkansas says staff at a juvenile detention facility incentivize youth to harass other youth.

The DRC also says the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Alexander lacks enough adult monitors and cameras to ensure the safety of youth at the facility.

Tom Masseau, executive director for the DRC, says the report was compiled from a review of the center over the last two months.

"Those youth are troubled," Masseau. "We need to look at why they got there in the first place and eventually these youth are going to be coming out into the community and interacting with us and our children. As a state we need to do a better job ensuring that they're safe, that they're treated well & that they're treated with respect."

Masseau cited a 98-percent increase in assaults on youth at Alexander over a one-year time span from 2012 to 2013.

The findings, first reported by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, culminated in the firing of an employee in June, accused of assaulting a youth.

Amy Webb, spokesperson for the Department of Human Services which oversees the Division of Youth Services, says the state agency takes the report seriously.

"Last week, the Disability Rights Center (DRC) revealed to us the allegations that staff were “rewarding” youth to bother or slap another youth, but DRC did not provide additional details," Webb says. "Obviously, those allegations were very concerning to us, and we have asked DRC to let us know as quickly as possible if they uncover safety concerns so that we can review and address them.

Webb says issues regarding additional monitors and cameras at the facility were already identified and are in the process of being addressed.

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