NY. OCFS VIDEO SHOWS INACCURACIES IN DOJ’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

In 2009 DOJ CRIPA division commenced an investigation into the conditions at 4 juvenile facilities. In August, 2009 DOJ released its findings regarding its investigation. In response to DOJ’s report the staff at OCFS as well as many NYS legislators voiced concerns that DOJ’s report and findings did not accurately reflect the true conditions at OCFS’ juvenile facilities.

Specifically, OCFS’ staff and NYS legislators claimed that DOJ’s report failed to address the unsafe conditions existing at OCFS’ juvenile facilities that placed staff as well as youth at undue risk. Second, DOJ’s report failed to address reports that youth were not receiving services i.e. counseling and a certain amount of educational hours.

Below are some of the inaccuracies in DOJ’s report into 4 OCFS juvenile facilities that were communicated to DOJ and copied to the Office of the Inspector General and to the Office of Professional Management.  To date DOJ’s report has not been amended.

  1. DOJ Report page 10 footnote 6.  DOJ’s Report states “The New York Department of Corrections and New York Office of Mental Health have already banned the use of prone restraints in adult correctional and mental health facilities.” 

  Correction: New York law does not ban prone restraint.  As support of this statement, the DOJ Reports cites an article written by Dan Higgins on November 22, 2006.  The newspaper article based this statement on inaccurate information given to the newspaper reporter by advocacy groups.  The truth is that there is no statute or regulation in New York that bans the use of prone restraint at OMH, OMR, OCFS, DOE or adult correctional facilities. 

 

2. DOJ Report page 10.  DOJ’s Report states that the use of prone restraints is controversial in juvenile facilities.  This statement is incorrect as the following States have no statute or regulation prohibiting the use of prone restraint at their juvenile facilities.

 Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland (the state juvenile justice institutions use prone restraint), Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wyoming.

 Based on the number of states and state agencies that allow the use of prone restraint, banning prone restraint is the exception, not the rule.  Thus the ban on the use of prone restraint would be more controversial and exceptional than its allowance.  Further, it is decidedly unconstitutional and illegal to ban the use of an intervention for juvenile officers while simultaneously allowing other segments of the population i.e. parents, other children, law enforcement to continue its use under identical circumstances. Thus the position of the 49 states is entirely consistent with natural rights and the rights granted to every American under the 5th and 14th amendments of the Constitution along with the rights granted by the States as every single state in the Union has a law protecting a persons right to protect oneself and another.

 Currently 49 out of 50 state juvenile facilities allow or use prone restraint at their juvenile facilities.

 

 3.  DOJ Report page 10.  DOJ’s Report states that “the danger of prone restraints is that if the individual’s airway is constricted, he or she is unable to express physical distress. 

Why is this finding limited to prone restraint?  Isn’t restricting someone’s airway a safety issue in any situation regardless of whether the person is standing, choking, drowning, injured, seated or on the floor?  

 

4.  DOJ”s Report also states that “the danger of prone restraints is that . . . the restrained individual’s struggle for air may be misconstrued by staff as resistance, resulting in increased force on the restrained individual.” 

We again ask, why is this finding limited to prone restraint?  Wouldn’t this be equally relevant regardless of what position the client or youth is restrained?

 

 5.  DOJ Report page 10.  DOJ’s Report states that OCFS should make sure that the youth can speak during a restraint. 

We advise that OCFS has had numerous experts, including ourselves who have held that the mantra “if a youth can speak, s/he can breathe” is a fallacy that should be erased from ones memory as it is insufficient to ensure for the youth’s safety.  It is not enough that a child can speak.  Staff must ensure that the youth can not only speak, but s/he can breathe.  The last words could be “I can’t breathe.”  It’s not that breath, but the ones after staff need to ensure the youth can take.

 

6. DOJ’s Report states that experts in protection from harm and use of force were retained. 

DOJ was asked to provide the identities and a curriculum vitae for the use of force experts they retained in their investigation into the 4 OCFS Juvenile Facilities.  DOJ responded that they did not retain or consult with any use of force experts regarding their findings against OCFS 4 juvenile facilities.  Thus either DOJ is withholding information properly requested in a FOIA request or DOJ never consulted or retained a use of force expert in its investigation into the 4 OCFS juvenile facilities.  We believe its the later — that DOJ never consulted or retained a use of force expert in its investigation into the 4 OCFS juvenile facilities. 

 

7. DOJ Report page 6.    DOJ’s Report is incorrect inasmuch as it appears to place the use of excessive force on the shoulders of staff “staff use excessive force to control youth’s behavior.” It is unfair to place blame on staff for what is an OCFS central office policy and protocol.[4]

The OCFS Bureau of Training is administered out of OCFS’s central office.  (http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/ohrd/).  OCFS’s Bureau of Training is responsible for the restraint and use of force protocol and intervention practices of all the juvenile facilities.  OCFS’ central training office has put a policy and training in place where staff must use excessive force.  This issue was addressed in more detail in an April, 2009 correspondence to DOJ regarding OCFS’ failure to properly train staff.

 

8. DOJ Report page 8. DOJ’s Report states that “staff informed us that recent measures to reduce restraints have put staff’s safety at risk. . . .”  DOJ expresses some doubt that this was actually occurring. 

 Based on recent legislative hearing testimony, a juvenile task force and press reports there are thousands of accounts concerning workers getting repeatedly injured by youths.[5]  If you look at Tryon’s statistics which were published in Leader Herald in August of last year, assaults on staff and youth on youth were up exponentially.[6]

As a picture speaks a thousand words, here’s the video:


 

Workers are being placed in an untenable position where if they intervene for their own or another’s safety, they risk getting improperly charged or indicated for abuse.

As the video shows, it is both staff and youth that are being placed at undue risk of injury and harm.

9. DOJ Report page 9. DOJ’s Report states that between April 24 and June 25, 2008 youth diagnosed with mental health issues were restrained in a full prone restraint. 

We have no knowledge of the actual incidents or whether they could be better managed behaviorally, but we can state with absolute certainty that from a physical intervention policy standpoint, OCFS does not have a graded use of force protocol.  Meaning that OCFS does not have the requisite intermediary steps to deal with behavior that cannot be safely managed standing, but that does not need to go to a full floor prone position.  This lack of curriculum is by the design of OCFS’ central bureau of training unit.  OCFS had been warned about the deficiency in 1998 again in 2001 again in 2002 again in 2003, again in 2004, again in 2006 and yet again in 2009.   OCFS’ administration and OCFS’s Bureau of Training have a history of not providing adequate training.

A copy of DOJ’s report can be viewed at:
http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/NY_juvenile_facilities_findlet_08-14-2009.pdf

Let’s all work at ensuring that reports coming from a Federal oversight agency are accurate and reflect the entirety of the conditions at the institutions being investigated.

This entry was posted in DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DOJ, General, juvenile justice, juvenile violence, NEW YORK, OCFS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to NY. OCFS VIDEO SHOWS INACCURACIES IN DOJ’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

  1. She anomymous says:

    Unfortunately the video shown in here is minimal compared to things I have actually been in. Broken bones, concussion, etc… and I am a female that works with these young men….they will attack anyone and NY State turns their eye and most often blames the staff! The recent events up at Taeburg…is what is normal at most facilities EVERYDAY! we are the most dangerous job in NY State….check our workman’s comp records…they are overwhelming!!!!

  2. ANTONIO COLLADO says:

    WITH ALL THE INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN OUT TO THE PUBLIC.ABOUT THE GOINGS ON AT O.C.F.S.I AM SURPRISED THAT MORE OF THE PUBLIC HAVE NOT INTERJECTED WHAT THAY THINK OF THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE.THE PUBLIC,MUST AND SHOULD APPLY PRESSURE ON THE POLITICAL MACHINE.TO CHANGE THE OPPERATIONS OF O.C.F.S. INSTITUTIONS AND PROGARMS.IF THE POLITICAL MACHINE DOES NOTHING,VOTE THEM OUT.THESE PEOPLE IN ALBANY,WORK FOR THE TAX PAYER OF NEW YORK STATE.WAY TO MUCH TALK HAS TAKEN PLACE.TIME FOR ACTION.
    IN THE PAST TWO MOUNTHS IN GOSHEN SECURE CENTER.WE HAVE HAD A DOCTOR,THREATEND BY A INMATE/RESIDENT.THREATS ON THE DOCTORS FAMILY ,HAVE BEEN MADE.BUT,THE INMATE RESIDENT.STILL WAS ABLE TO GO HOME.THE DOCTOR,FILL OUT REPORTS ABOUT THIS ISSUE.AND TWO MOUNTHS LATER.NO ADMINISTRATOR HAS SPOKEN TO HIM ABOUT THE THREATS MADE AT HIM.I HAVE SEEN NURSES THREATEND,OVER THE DISPENSING OF MEDS.
    JUST LAST WEEK.STAFF FROM GOSHEN SECURE. HAD TO GO TO A COURT HOUSE IN GOSHEN,NEW YORK.TO GIVE ASSISTANCE TO A TEAM OF STAFF FROM BROOKWOOD.BECAUSE,THAY,DID NOT WANT TO RESTRAIN A RESIDENT.THAT WAS ONE HUNDRED AND TWEENTY FIVE POUNDS AT MOST.THESE STAFF HAD AT LEAST FORTY YEARS EXPERIENCE BETWEEN THEM AS Y.D.A’S.AND ONE Y.D.C. ,THAT JUST STARTED AT O.C.F.S.
    THIS WEEK A TEACHER AT GOSHEN SECURE , HAD WATER THROWN AT HIM.THEM THE PITCHER THROWN AT HIS FACE.THE TEACHER,HAD TO DEFIND HIMSELF.SO HE HAD TO PLACE HIS HANDS ON A INMATE RESIDENT.BECAUSE.HE HAD TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT HIMSELF.THE PRINCIPLE CALLED HIM IN TO THE CHILD ABUSE REGISTRY.THE TEACHER WAS LUCKY.THE REGISTRY,DID NOT EXCEPT THE CHARGES,FINIALLY
    ON MONDAY 4/18/11,BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF A Y.D.C.2. ONE RESIDENTS,DISRUPTIVE ACTION,ALMOST GOT STAFF INJURED.JUST BECUSE HE DID NOT WANT TO RESTRAIN A RESIDENT/INMATE.THIS IS ALL ABOUT FEAR.THEIR IS NO WAY TO DRESS IT UP.
    THESE ARE ACTIONS THAT THE COMMISSIONERS,POOR,LOST,MINORTY LITTLE CHILDERN TAKE.JUST BECAUSE SOME ONE IS FROM A MINORITY,POOR,HERE ILLIGALY,OR HAS SOME MENTAL CHALLENGES.DOES,NOT ALLOW THEM TO FOLLOW RULES AND REGULATIONS.SET FORTH BY SOCITY AND A STATE AGENCY.IF A INMATE/ RESIDENT,TAKES ADULT ACTIONS.LETS TREAT THEM AS A ADULT.STOP THE WAIST OF TIME AND MONEY.STOP THE B.S.GAMES.STEP UP TO THE PLATE ALBANY.CLEAN YOUR MESS UP,CLEAN HOUSE.AND GET THINGS CORRECT.

  3. ANTONIO COLLADO says:

    ANONYMOUS,
    ALL NEW YORK STATE COMMISSIONERS,DIRECTORS,MIDDLE MANAGEMENT.PLAY WITH THE TRUTH.THEIR POSITIONS AND UPWARD MOBILITY IN STATE SERVICE. DEPENDS ON HOW GOOD THEIR MANIPULATION OF THE FACTS ARE.IF YOUR A GOOD LIAR.YOU WILL DO WELL IN STATE SERVICE AS A COMMISSIONER/DIRECTOR/MIDDLE MANAGER.
    GLADYS CARRION,HAD NO BUSINESS IN BEING COMMISSIONER OF O.C.F.S.AND CHANCES ARE THE NEXT COMMISSIONER OF O.C.F.S.WILL HAVE NO EXPERIENCE IN THE FEILD OF YOUTH CORRECTIONS .IT IS THE NATURE OF THE BEAST.ANONYMOUS,IT IS ALL ABOUT POLITICAL FAVOR,AND MONEY.
    GLADYS CARRION,HER ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONERS,HER DIRECTORS,AND MIDDLE LINE MANAGERS.SHOULD ALL BE UP ON CHARGES AS I WRITE THIS.
    THESE PEOPLE NEVER DID CARE ABOUT THE RESIDENTS,THE VICTUMS,STAFF AND THE PUBLIC AT LARGE.IF THE PUBLIC,ONLY KNEW OF THE WRONGS THAT O C F S, DO EVARY DAY.
    BUT,YOU KNOW WHAT,WE MUST PLACE SOME OF THIS BLAME FOR THE O.C.F.S.,CIRCUS.WHITH THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE AND LEGISLATURE .
    WHERE WAS THE OVERSIGHT OF O.C.F.S.,FOR ALL THESE YEARS? THE JUDGES THAT ALLOW ALL OF THIS TO GO ON.WHEN,THAY KNOW HOW POORLY MANAGED THE PROGRAM IS.
    O.C.F.S.,HAS BECOME A CANDY CANE NURSARY,FOR CRIMINALS.
    ANTONIO COLLADO

  4. Disgusted says:

    is this really a big shock to anyone? come on …look how much has been covered up and I cant believe that after the release of surveillance videos that the media hasnt gone wild with it.Did u notice u c nothing about it in the Albany Times Union?

  5. Justice says:

    This is the way ocfs has been run for yrs, and yes it has gotten worse, if they had corrected things yrs ago maybe there would be some people still alive.
    Tony Hough is just a yes man Kevin Mahr is just a yes man and the lists goes on and on! Why when a director screws up all they do is transfer him someplace else. So they can screw up there! NO ONE @ OCFS is ever held accountable!

  6. disgusted says:

    All I can say is I Am soOO disappointed in our NY Gov. How does this woman still have a job but boy if we ydas breathe wrong we lose our jobs. NO FAITH IN CUOMO AT ALL

  7. anonymous says:

    OK PEOPLE! It has been 4 weeks since the news conference that opened the can of worms to the unacceptable violence in the OCFS facilities. The door is open yet NO ONE WALKS THROUGH IT! Staff that are suffering in these facilities have been offered help by outside people. I hear your complaints about Tony Hough and the rest of the Central Office deadheads. They are all trying to keep the roof over their kids heads just like you are. They are cowering to keep their jobs. I will NEVER believe that anyone that worked facility doesn’t want serious correction. Everyone knows that only happens if the agency takes back the control of the facilities and makes then safe so everyone can function. Safety does not equal fear. It equals mutual respect and that comes from people being allowed to do their jobs. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO DO A GOOD JOB!!! Remember MASLOW from the academy folks!The facilities need to be safe.
    That cannot be done while Carrion and the present “reform” model are in place. People need to stand up and SCREAM! You are all suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome. I want to know where is the next meeting and when…….or does this die on the vine?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Feds sold OCFS staff down the river in 2009 as a part of a totally incompetent deal making someone is going to get killed commissioner Carrion and her administration made with DOJ whereby DOJ agrees to ignore the violence, dangerous conditions and rampant fraud in exchange for Carrion playing ball on their political agenda.

    The DOJ Special Litigation Section chief that oversaw DOJ’s report on OCFS in 2009, Shanetta Cutlar, was kicked out and placed into another Federal job with the rest of the Federal incompetent crazies. According to rumors Carrion is scheduled to depart to a similar Federal provided hideaway for incompetent administrators.

    For some amusing tabloid commentary on the sad state of DOJ go to http://abovethelaw.com.

  9. ANTONIO COLLADO says:

    I do agree with Anonymous,statement made on 04/02/2011.Commissoner Carrion,should have charges bought on her and her administration team.For their unprofessional conduct.You have Mr.Tony Hough,and some of his Ex-Harlem Valley team.That are just as a big hand in the problem.
    On 3/2/11,C S E A ,had a Labor Management Meeting at Goshen Secure Center.Notice was given at that time that Mr.Hough,will not charge any resident/inmate,for cell phones in a New York State,managed O C F S institution.If the Associate Commissioner,violates policy.why should the Institution Directiors.And his Y D C’s,line management.
    It is time that The Feds. ,come in and clean house,from the top down.
    If the Fed. Government,offers Mrs. Carron,a position in this.Like some say will take place.In simple English,they are crazy.
    The propblems that this agency has.can be addresses and fixed.But,we need new people in key positions .That know what their doing.People hold positions now in this agency.Due to political apointments,or because their friends with someone in the agency.Or the best one. Is because their children play sports togetheir.
    In short,corruption from the top down.
    ANTONIO COLLADO

    that is no better then Commissioner Carrion

  10. Anonymous says:

    The DOJ investigation was nothing more smoke and mirrors, a bunch of propaganda orcestrated by Commissioner Gladys Carrion to garner public support so she could move forward with her mission to close all OCFS facilities and steer the youth, the jobs and the revenue to the public sector agencies where she came from. Her mission from day one was not to correct problems within facilities but to close them down. She manipulated the facts, targeted the most successful programs for closure and lied to accomplish her mission. She needs to be held accountable for the danger she has but our communities, our workers and our residents in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *