State investigators in Virginia discovered that a youth detention center used restraint techniques, which included strapping immigrant children in chairs and placing mesh bags over their heads.
The incidents of abuse took place at the Shenandoah Valley juvenile center. Investigators ruled that the treatment did not meet the state’s “legal threshold for abuse.” The findings were released on Monday by the Virginia Department of juvenile justice. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the decision.
Investigators offered recommendations none of which really addressed the abusive treatment taking place. It was recommended that the detention center hire more bilingual staff and better screen for immigrant children suffering from mental health issues.
Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia ordered an investigation into the treatment of children at the center back in June after children began speaking out about being handcuffed, shackled and beaten at the facility. The Associated Press had published an article on the situation reporting that children as young as 14 were being subjected to these conditions.
Several children also stated that they were stripped of their clothing and locked in solitary confinement naked. Others stated that they were strapped to chairs with bags over their heads.
The juvenile facility is located about 150 miles from Washington, D.C.
State investigators did not directly interview the children that had spoken out about the abuse. Several of the children who were part of a class-action lawsuit that was filed back in November of 2017 were transferred to other facilities or deported back to their countries of origin. Investigators did interview other children detained at the facility.
A lawyer representing the teens, Hannah Lieberman, stated that the new state report in no way disproves the teen’s allegations of abuse. She added that the lawsuit against the facility will move forward.
The incidents of abuse described by the six teens took place between 2015 and 2018.