Calls for Help Grow at Sununu Troubled Youth Center |
MANCHESTER, NH – Less than a month after police were called to the Sununu Youth Services Center for a “riot” report, police have been called at least three more times on Friday and Saturday to more trouble in the juvenile facility locked down, though officials won’t say what happened.
“There were three incidents where law enforcement was called in to support Sununu Center staff last night and this morning,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jake Leon said on Saturday. social.
Located on Manchester’s River Road, Sununu Youth Center (also known as YDC) is a statewide secure treatment center for detained and committed young men and women aged 13-17 year.
Leon said this type of incident is common in such facilities, but did not say what happened. He did not answer a number of questions, including how many staff and how many young inmates were on campus at the time. He also did not respond when asked about unofficial reports that someone had suffered a head injury.
“The escalations that have occurred are common in a closed and secure setting with a resident population of individuals with a history of serious and violent crime. The Sununu Center is currently experiencing staffing issues that are prevalent in secure and unsecured residential facilities nationwide. Although staffing during these escalations is to federal standards, it has been difficult to deal with the escalations that have occurred,” Leon said.
Leon said that while infrequent, it is standard operating procedure for personnel to request law enforcement support to de-escalate a situation when necessary to ensure safety.
New Hampshire State Police and Manchester Police did not respond to requests for comment except to direct calls to Leon.
On August 16, local and state police responded to the YDC for a reported riot. Just after 8 p.m. that evening, a State Police radio broadcast called for “all available units to respond to the Sununu Center in Manchester for a riot”. The Manchester Police dispatch log shows Manchester police responding to a riot at 8.06pm
Authorities later said the August 16 event was not a riot, but rather that it was “initially difficult to control the incident”. On the evening in question, 13 young people were registered in the establishment, and 15 guard staff. YDC is expected to close in the future and currently has few of its 144 beds occupied.
Leon said at the time that there would be follow-up steps, “looking for opportunities for continuous improvement, including Commissioner Lori Shibinette and Joe Ribsam spending time at SYSC tomorrow to review the incident so to determine if any changes are necessary to ensure the safety of residents and staff.”
InDepthNH.org filed an RSA 91a right-to-know request for more details about what happened on August 16.
Attorney General John Formella and attorneys representing 800 YDC victims who sued the state alleging physical, sexual and emotional abuse while held there as children disagreed on the 100 fund million dollars that lawmakers agreed to use to compensate victims, which Gov Chris Sununu signed into law.
Alleged abuses by state personnel include sexual abuse, physical abuse, torture, excessive use of force, excessive use of solitary confinement and physical restraints, mental abuse, etc.
So far, the state has arrested 11 former state employees on charges of abuse. Last week, the state filed a motion to bar one of the accused men from testifying in the victims’ civil lawsuit, saying he was too frail and may not be competent. Lawyers for the victims say this is just another stalling tactic to delay prosecution.
Formella won lawmakers’ approval last week for a revised $100 million settlement proposal. It changes the methodology for determining a victim’s compensation by shortening the abuse time needed to reach the legal cap and increasing compensation for repeated incidents of abuse.
Attorney David Vicinanzo, who along with Rus Rilee represents 98% of victims, criticized Formella for not meeting with victims’ lawyers to draft guidelines on how the program should operate.