"Report: "Extreme Concern" Persists at Henley-Young" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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Report: "Extreme Concern" Persists at Henley-Young

The latest court monitoring report for the Hinds County's Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center shows "the facility continues to have "major developmental needs in many areas.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a class-action lawsuit in 2011 that alleged Henley-Young's staff members subjected the children to physical and verbal abuse.

Under a March 2012 settlement children entering the facility are to receive mental-health evaluations, counseling, better rehabilitation options, input from family and advocates, and more time outside their cells.

Leonard B. Dixon, a juvenile justice expert appointed to oversee implementation of the agreement, visited the jail from August 18 through August 23. Dixon said in his report that he witnessed staff training that did not align with juvenile-justice standards.

“As I sat in on several parts of the training, I found the majority of the training was aligned with adult corrections,” he wrote. “Although this training may be adequate for adult facilities, in the juvenile system training is required so that staff will have the skills to effectively interact and manage residents.”

Dixon also cited staffing issues and medical and mental health-care services as still needing improvement.

“Even though the facility has hired new staff, the results of attrition still leave the County far short of the needed staff to properly run the facility,” Dixon wrote. This creates pressure for staff members to keep the peace at all costs, and they often “react to minor misbehaviors” by “locking down residents that present potential conduct issues.”

In early September, the Henley Young brought on a new director when Brenda Frelix took over for Dale Knight, who took the post in 2010.

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