Northam issues report reviewing Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center allegations

virginiaGovernor Ralph Northam released the results of a review conducted by the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice into allegations of abuse at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Augusta County.

On June 21, 2018, Governor Ralph Northam requested Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the Department of Juvenile Justice to conduct an inquiry into the allegations contained in a lawsuit regarding the safety of federal residents housed at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. At the time of the inquiry there were 22 residents placed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at the facility.

“I take these allegations very seriously, and directed members of my administration to immediately look into these claims of abuse and mistreatment,” said Governor Northam. “I applaud the quick and comprehensive examination conducted by the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Social Services, and encourage the facility to heed their recommendations. The safety of every child being held there is of the utmost importance.”

After interviewing all of the ORR residents present at the facility at the time of the visit, and reviewing their records, DJJ staff did make two referrals to Child Protective Services (CPS) for investigation of potential abuse or neglect. CPS, in their investigation, did not find evidence to support allegations of abuse or neglect.

Based on the DJJ staff investigation, and the response from CPS, DJJ determined that there were no life, health, or safety violations at the facility.

While the DJJ team found SVJC in compliance with applicable regulations and certification standards, they did identify areas where SVJC could improve programming for the youth in the custody of ORR. Accordingly, the linked report includes both a description of the investigative process and findings, as well as a set of recommendations for SVJC.

The SVJC is an independent juvenile detention facility for youth managed by the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Commission. SVJC staff are not state employees. Furthermore, DJJ does not have any official relationship or jurisdiction over the ORR, nor the federally supervised youth at SVJC. The ORR is a federal program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that works with unaccompanied minors while their immigration cases are pending.

The full report is available here.

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