NAACP says problems persist at Richmond juvenile jail
Apr 16, 2012 (Richmond Times-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The executive director of the Virginia NAACP says "lies, cover-ups and subterfuge" are preventing real solutions to what he described as a host of ongoing problems at Richmond's Juvenile Detention Center.
"This place is a cesspool of corruption, incompetence and lies," said King Salim Khalfani during a news conference this morning at the state NAACP headquarters in Richmond. The NAACP leader will speak to the City Council tonight.
The center has been placed on probation twice since 2009 by the state Board of Juvenile Justice, most recently in January after inspections by city and state officials found malfunctioning locks, intercoms and video surveillance systems, and evidence that training records had been falsified, among other deficiencies.
The inspections were launched after the NAACP, which had been meeting with about two dozen juvenile center employees, raised the concerns with city officials in September.
Khalfani made new allegations including staff members lacking required certifications, city policy violations and employee grievances being left unresolved.
Khalfani's news conference came less than a week after the Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice extended the probation of the detention center following a lengthy debate over whether to "decertify" the facility. The move would have forced the center to house its residents elsewhere and could have meant staff layoffs.
Ken Bailey, who heads the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice's certification program, said last week that the city had fixed all problems that were the subject of the January probation. However, the commonwealth attorney's Office is investigating whether the training records were forged and an allegation of improper communication between an employee and a former inmate.
A staff member who administered the incorrect dosage of medication to two inmates was placed on unpaid leave pending a disciplinary hearing.
The center will remain on probation until January and must undergo a 400-point state audit, present a plan for documenting training properly and conduct a third-party investigation into whether documents were forged, the board decided last week.
But Khalfani has repeatedly called the facility "a tragedy waiting to happen" and wants more immediate action.
"They say they want to do the right thing, but the right thing never seems to happen," Khalfani said, accusing city officials of repeatedly lying about fixing problems at the facility.
Tammy Hawley, a spokeswoman for Mayor Dwight C. Jones, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Bryon Marshall, the city's chief administrative officer, told the state board that major changes have been made at the facility including a new management structure, doubling the money for maintenance and video documentation of required training.
(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Read more in tomorrow's Richmond Times-Dispatch.)
___ (c)2012 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond
Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) at www.timesdispatch.com Distributed by MCT
[ Back To TMCnet.com's Homepage ]