This story was brought to my attention two days ago: “State Urges Arkansas Juvenile Detention to Stop Using WRAP Restraint.” The original share came from this Facebook page: Fox16 News Photo
During this time, I have had a heated discussion with individuals who believe there is nothing wrong with this and defending their own use of such devices as employees in youth correctional facilities. Even in the comment section of the Facebook photo, there are people defending its use. This is disturbing on so many levels. It suggests that so many in our society are willing to resort to violence against children rather than learn how to properly treat them, and it’s quite disturbing that some of these individuals work in juvenile facilities.
I am going to quote the article because I have noticed in some of my much older posts that older news articles can no longer be found. I am unsure why news agencies archive old stories to never be found again, but with the possibility of this happening for such an important part of this post, I will quote the article here and give full credit to the OzarksFirst.com news page linked first above.
State Urges Arkansas Juvenile Detention to Stop Using WRAP Restraint
10/09/2014 08:19 PM10/09/2014 08:26 PM
YELL COUNTY, Ark. — The State of Arkansas is cracking down on a restraint mechanism some juvenile detainees call “torture.” It’s known as the WRAP system. According to the state, the Yell County Juvenile Detention Center used it to restrain minors at its facility for up to four hours at a time.
State Juvenile Ombudsman Scott Tanner investigates complaints within the juvenile detention system. He says several youths housed in the Yell County facility voiced concern about the WRAP, so he went to Danville to experience it himself. That’s him in the photo, which was taken in September.
In his report that followed, Tanner says the WRAP caused difficulty breathing and increased anxiety. He also says it presents a risk for head injury and violates state standards, which say any placement of juveniles must be therapeutic and not punitive.
In the report, Tanner also mentions his interviews with juvenile detainees. He says their descriptions of the WRAP were consistent: “It is torture. This should not happen to kids.” Tanner says the juveniles told him the restraint was additionally humiliating and traumatizing because they were restrained in the wrap in front of other detainees.
Tanner writes the following in his report, filed September 18: “I believe the manner in which the WRAP restraint is being used in your center creates significant liability. This is magnified by deficiencies in both policy and documentation. Based on my own experience in this restraint and interviews of youth similarly restrained, it is my opinion that the use of the WRAP restraint on youth is inappropriate.”
Tanner requests Yell County ban the WRAP and asks that DHS prohibit it across the state. In the report, he also mentions that Yell County needs to revise its policies and procedures surrounding situations where a juvenile may be a danger to themselves or others.
Following that report, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Division of Youth Services sent a cease and desist letter to Yell County. In that letter, dated September 29, DHS calls the WRAP “highly controversial and potentially dangerous” and directs Yell County to stop all use of the WRAP immediately. It also asks that Yell County provide a “corrective action plan” within 30 days to address state code violations and to ensure it complies completely with state juvenile detention standards.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, KARK obtained documents showing the Yell County sheriff has instructed his staff to comply with the state.
Tanner says juvenile detention centers in Benton and Washington Counties also use a variation of the WRAP, but he says they both use a different helmet and only use the WRAP as a last resort in extreme situations. KARK reached out to both of those facilities to learn more, but have not yet heard back.
(courtesy KARK, Little Rock)
There is never any reason to restrain any child in this fashion. After researching multiple detention centers in Arkansas, I learned that this particular detention center is the only such facility to use this device. It, also, has a history of abuse complaints. It concerns me that these children (and they are still children) are not being properly monitored by outside interests for their health and safety, and that the staff is not being properly supervised. What is clear to me is that these individuals have never received proper training, including psychological training and perhaps even psychological evaluation. Every facility in the country that works with troubled minors should require a thorough psychological evaluation of its employees, a thorough background check into not only their job and criminal histories but their personal ives, and a responsible degree of child psychology training.
This is child abuse. There is no mistaking what we are seeing here in the images of the investigator. If this were to happen in an adult prison system, society would be demanding charges filed against the warden and guards responsible for inhumane treatment and torture not seen since the early days of psychiatric institutions.
Bottom line is that these adults were never properly trained. In fact, anyone who thinks this is an acceptable way to handle even a violent child has never had proper psychological training and doesn’t have the patience to be in this position. It is an unfortunate fact that most employees in juvenile correction facilities have never undergone any form of psychological testing on themselves or have had to learn any form of child psychology. From what I’ve seen in my years dealing with children who were abused in such facilities, a good many employees only work there for the position it gives them to abuse children. The arrest rate is alarmingly high.
Imagine for a minute that these children survived horrific abuse at home, which is a large percentage of why they act out violently. Forcing them into this disgusting device is only twisting their minds more and pushing them over that edge we see in serial killers and serial rapists. Abusing a child who is already violent further deteriorates their mental health.
Imagine what this device is used for by those adults who aren’t screened prior to being hired. Just imagine.
I know full well that these people in this position are using these devices for their own sick gratification. There is no LOGICAL reason to use these things on a CHILD. I find it bizarre that reasonably intelligent people cannot grasp the implications of an ADULT feeling it necessary to restrain a CHILD this way. I’m not saying these kids are little angels and delicate darlings. I’m saying that this device and anything like it isn’t to help the child. It’s for the gratification of the adult who wants to feel good about hurting anyone who dares disrespect them and is weaker than them.
Any child who has reached this stage of violence did not start out like this. When kids are sent to these facilities, it is to 1. punish them for breaking the law and 2. council them so they can turn their lives around and become productive members of society, hopefully turning them onto the right path before they become career criminals. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that true counseling is very rarely received by these children and they do, statistically speaking, continue lives of crime and evolve into much more dangerous individuals.
Juvenile correction facilities are some of the worst run criminal detention centers in the country. No one monitors the staff. No one pays attention to what is happening to the children behind those doors. These kids are written off before they even have a chance to prove they can do better. They are given the mentality that jail is their only future.
I have seen children with obvious mental disabilities sent to these places instead of a hospital. I don’t mean Autism. I mean serious psychological illnesses that require serious treatment. They are treated, instead, like unruly animals. They are treated like 30 year old career felons. They are restrained like this by an unprofessional staff that doesn’t know how to handle them because they never received the training to do so and because the state would rather sweep away these children as criminals rather than put them into an institution and admitting there is a problem.
I haven’t even mentioned the face drawn on the mask. This is clearly a purposefully cruel humiliation tactic. What trained professional would do that to a child or any mentally unstable person? NONE. And therein lies your answer.
It would seem the entire county of Yell, AK needs monitoring. I find it troubling that the Sheriff’s Department overseeing the Yell Juvenile Detention Center has had its share of child abuse lawsuits. This is one such abuse, and these are the people assigned to protect troubled children: Yell County Officers Break Arm of Child In Their Custody.
I am happy to report that this torture device has been removed from the Yell Juvenile Detention Center due to the investigation by the youth ombudsman; however, I sincerely hope this facility continues to be monitored. Just because they say they won’t use it, doesn’t mean they truly won’t. It required a certain depravity to implement this device in the first place. Although the director has been replaced, the rest of the staff has remained. This concerns me.
The following is a PDF of the letters between Sheriff Bill Gilkey, Yell County Sheriff, and Kristi Padgett, Director of Yell County Juvenile Detention Center.