The Sago Palm Academy, formerly known as the Pahokee Youth Development Center, is operated by Securicor New Century under contract to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The contract, which became effective in October of 1999, provides for housing a total of 350 beds configured as follows:
Level 8 High Risk Beds278
Sex Offender Beds24
Substance Abuse Beds48
After this contract became effective, the remaining Level 6 youth were phased out and spent DJJ $1.4 million renovating the facility. The population went from a low of 23 youth on December 1, 1999, to 160 youth in February of 2000. The population was then held at that level until April, pending completion of E-Dorm renovations. At the time of this review in July of 2000, there were 348 youth assigned to the facility (327 in residence and 21 out for various reasons such as detention).
The monitoring review was conducted during the period of July 19-24, 2000. During this period extensive time was spent on the compound talking with youth and staff and observing activities, movement, security, etc. These observations occurred during various times of the day and on the weekend. The monitors were given full access to the facility, however, on one occasion youth were reprimanded after talking to us. Youth should be assured that they may converse with the monitors without fear of reprisals.
These monitors’ overall impression of this operation is unfavorable. There is a lack of good order, control and discipline as evidenced by high noise levels, staff yelling at youth, youth failing to respond to instructions, etc. Youth had reportedly jammed the locks in their rooms and exited without authorization at night. In response, the facility had installed slide bolt locks on six rooms in each pod. Youth had reportedly flooded their rooms. In response, staff had turned the water off in these rooms at night. Situations such as this where youth act and staff react tend to escalate and are indications of a general lack of control.
There is also a general lack of constructive activity for youth. Lengthy periods of inactivity of youth was observed. This can partly be attributed to the decision made by the Palm Beach School District to take over all alternative programs in the county. The Securicor provided school program ended June 30th, but the Palm Beach School District program did not even resume part-time classes until July 17th. This will be discussed in more detail under Education.
However, this lack of classroom activity was exacerbated by the fact that Securicor did not have the Counseling or Social Skills Enhancement programs operating as required by contract. These groups/sessions would have filled some of the idle time with constructive activity. As a result of all of the above, youth in general, expressed that they are bored, and are resentful of wasting their time.
Security problems were evident including unlocked doors, doors propped open, security vestibules not being utilized, etc. Youth were congregated and moved in large groups rather than small groups. Supervision was inadequate or lacking in some instances.
A confinement cell was found with a commode that had been stopped up for up to two days. Staff in the confinement section were aware of this and were letting the youth out to use the toilet in another location. However, the fact that an inoperable and an unsanitary cell was still in use raises numerous issues of supervision and communication.
Corporate and program staff are citing the ramp-up schedule as one explanation for the problems existing at the facility. It is noted that the Securicor Regional Administrator advised that this ramp-up had occurred over 5 weeks when actual figures show an increase in facility population of between 10 and 20 youth per week for 10 weeks to bring the facility to full capacity.
It is these monitors’ opinion that the overall lack of control, absence of constructive activity and security problems, stem in part from a poorly structured and organized facility administration which will be discussed in more detail in the next section. It is felt that the roles and responsibilities of top management must be clarified and understood before the facility can begin providing realistic programs for the youth in custody.
It is unclear as to who is in charge of Sago Palm Academy. The Securicor Regional Administrator is at the facility full-time but he points out that he is there only to assist the Facility Administrator with some external duties and responsibilities, thus allowing her to concentrate on "running" the facility operations. This is reinforced by the corporate Vice-President who explained that the Regional Administrator was to handle "external" affairs and the Facility Administrator was to concentrate on "internal" operations.
It is the experience of these monitors that an institution cannot have "two heads." One person must clearly be in charge and responsible. It is our observation that the Regional Administrator is "de facto" the person in charge. It is our recommendation that he or someone else should be so designated. An organizational chart dated 7-13-00 was presented to us during this audit which shows that the Regional Administrator is in charge (see Appendix 1). Continuing the illusion that the other individual is the "Facility Administrator" is contributing to the confusion and thus delaying implementation of needed corrective action.
Another source of confusion exists at the deputy or assistant administrator level. The organizational chart in Appendix 1 shows two individuals co-equal at this second level of management. However, a second chart which was attached shows only one position at this level. Additionally, discussions with some of the other administrators resulted in receiving different versions regarding who is the assistant facility administrator and who works for whom.
Many functional problems are caused by this lack of clarity regarding the chain of command and the organization of top management. If the duties and responsibilities of key staff are not clear it results in a communication breakdown and lack of coordination and supervision. Policy changes are not clearly articulated and are not conveyed uniformly. Follow-up does not occur and enforcement is lacking. There is confusion at middle management and line staff levels. The resulting lack of consistency adversely affects the youth.
If this program is to succeed, upper management will have to get organized. Roles and responsibilities must be delineated and carried out. There needs to be a team approach to problem resolution and an emphasis on responding with corrective actions.
One of the reasons these monitors were requested to conduct this review was to collect data as to the relative safety of youth while committed to this facility. The monitors explored several different sources for such information. Care must be taken not to read too much into raw numbers of incidents since there are multiple aspects of the data to review. These include appropriateness of actions taken, the seriousness of the incident, validity and timeliness of reporting, corroboration of witnesses, etc.
One area in which the data is usually reliable relates to verified incidents of abuse by staff against youth. Abuse complaints will almost without exception be reported and investigated. Penalties have been imposed on the vendor for not reporting incidents to the Inspector General on a timely basis. If abuse is found to be valid it will almost invariably result in disciplinary action against staff.
Such incidents are too few to be able to establish trends other than to assert that any such cases are too many. Dating back to March of this year, the following abuse complaints were found to be valid and subsequent action was taken.
MONTHFINDINGDISPOSITIONMarchBroken arm due to excessive forceTwo staff terminatedMarchYouth handcuffed and shackled to medical bed for approximately 14 hours following attempted escapeTwo staff given written reprimands*MayExcessive forceOne staff terminatedJuneUnnecessary force - choke hold not authorizedOne staff terminatedJulyPhysical abuse by staffOne staff terminated and arrested for aggravated battery
*Note: The two staff given written reprimands for this incident were high ranking staff, including the Facility Administrator who ordered/authorized the shackling. This sends the message that there is a double-standard of discipline for upper level staff who violate procedure.
It is noted that the "Youth Handbook" correctly states in reference to abuse calls:
"You are allowed to make the call without interference or retaliation of any kind."
The facility had developed a "Child Abuse Reporting Form" which directed staff to supervise such calls, notify the Shift Supervisor, and summarize the phone conversation (see Appendix 2). Any of these actions could be construed as interferring with the abuse call and such procedures and the form should be repealed.
Use of Force
An initial review of the data indicated a reduction in the reported incidences of use of force for the month of July through the date of the audit and the monitors so reported at the exit conference. However, after a review of medical data reported in the Emergency Care Log, it appears that there was a significant underreporting of use of force for the July 1-21 period reviewed by the monitors. According to use of force reports filed there were 29 "take downs" or utilization of physical restraint. However, 18 additional youth were seen by medical personnel for status post restraint or take down evaluation/assessment where no use of force reports had been filed. Ten of these 18 youth required some form of medical treatment from Motrin/Tylenol, ice, to shoulder x-rays. So instead of the decrease in use of force reported for July, the corrected data actually shows a slight increase from June and the same rate as May as is shown in the next table.
Rate of Physical Restraints
MonthAverage Monthly PopulationPhysical RestraintsRateMarch15579.50April17260.34May23953.22June30558.19July (thru 7-18)32547*.22*
*These data differ from that discussed at the exit conference. The above is based upon corrected information.
A review of the actual Use of Force reports reveals a number of problems with these reports as noted below:
A. There were questions on some reports as to whether the force used was appropriate.
B. There were questions on some reports as to whether or not the use of force could have been avoided altogether.
C. Some reports were incomplete with no reason given for the use of force.
D. Reports did not show review and approval or disapproval by facility administration, they were not signed and there is no indication that staff were given feedback on their actions.
Use of Force Training
There are also some questions regarding the training of staff who are involved in uses of force. Training Records were analyzed and there are numerous instances of staff using force who have only been trained in the verbal portion of "Crisis Intervention Techniques" (CIT). Of sixteen (16) uses of force so far in July which involved takedowns, hammerlocks or double-hammerlocks, or use of handcuffs, 4 staff had CIT verbal training only and 2 staff had no training noted on their training records.
The facility has just employed a certified "Use of Force" instructor and plans to use this course to train in the future.
Investigations and Records
There are a sufficient number of Incident Reports, Disciplinary Reports, Reports of Force Used, and other complaints which warrant investigation, so as to constitute a full-time workload for a trained investigator. These matters are of such consequence as to suggest that these investigations be completed promptly and accurately. The volume of missing or incomplete investigations observed during this visit are such that these monitors recommend converting an existing position to the role of internal affairs or institutional investigator.
Additionally, the sheer volume of such reports demand that a system be established to sequentially number, track, and account for them. It would be advisable to file all documents concerning one event together, however separate logs are required for disciplinary reports, incident reports, use of force reports, etc. Such an effort appears to require that a full-time support position be dedicated to these duties.
A number of security problems were identified during this visit. As was mentioned in the introduction, in response to youth jamming the locks and exiting at night without authority, the institution had installed slide bolt locks on six lower level rooms per dorm. Additionally, the same type of lock had been installed on a 2nd floor room with an inoperable lock. The facility is relying on a State Fire Marshal approval which was given at a different facility in October of 1997. This appears to be insufficient authority to install such locks in this location and their use should be discontinued.
Additionally, youth had reportedly flooded their rooms so in response, staff had turned the water off in these rooms at night. This amounts to a form of punishment or control. Water should not be turned off except for routine maintenance or in a situation where a particular youth is flooding his room.
A number of entry/exit doors were not closed or locked. Doors were propped open with chairs or wastebaskets. Security vestibules were not utilized as they were intended. Some doors could not be opened from the sub-control rooms. The Maintenance Supervisor advised that inoperable locks could not be repaired due to lack of spare parts and indicated there is a 15-16 week waiting period for parts from the factory. The intercom units in one dorm were inoperable, however the Maintenance Supervisor was unaware of this problem.
The placement of large plywood storage units for youth's shoes presents a security problem in the opinion of these monitors. Such units should be relocated off of the 2nd floor in housing pods and secured, or in the alternative, should be removed from the housing units altogether.
Deployment and utilization of Youth Worker (YW) staff was questionable at times. On the first day of the audit there were ten (10) YW staff in the hallway at the school. This number of staff appeared excess to the need, yet staff were complaining of being held over for a double shift and being fatigued.
On several occasions, one staff member was observed escorting 17-18 youth. Large groups of youth were escorted across the compound rather than being split up into smaller groups. One group of 47 youth were in the entry vestibule of a dorm at one time.
On one occasion, a single youth was being staffed in the open dayroom area of a pod and forty (40) youth had been placed outside in the adjacent enclosed basketball courtyard in the hot sun with no planned activity.
One Youth Worker was observed playing dominos with youth two days in a row. On two occasions youth had covered the windows in their room doors and this had not been noted by line staff. On another occasion, Youth Workers were in a hallway talking and disturbing the classrooms. It is difficult to identify middle line supervisors since they all wear the same uniform, however it is reasonable to say that such supervisors were either not present or were not functioning adequately on such occasions.
Two escapes occurred from this facility on the evening of May 6, 2000 and the youth were not apprehended until the morning of May 7. The Assistant Facility Administrator advises that staff were not paying attention which in turn led to the escape. The contract provides that Securicor will have $2,500 each deducted from their invoice because of this escape.
The educational programming at Sago Palm has had a difficult beginning which is impacting the quality of life for the youth. The original agreement signed October 20, 1999, between Securicor and the School Board of Palm Beach County called for Securicor to operate the educational program. Toward this end, the company hired educational personnel and purchased the New Century Software which was to provide the basis of the educational program. Several vocational classes were being offered, and an automotive class was to be added. The contract refers to a program "specially focused on each individual youth's academic/vocational skills improvement (to include literacy).….the provider shall provide an intensive reading (literacy) program for youth.….for the term of the contract." Additionally, services shall "focus on possibilities for individualized achievement, especially for the achievement of the GED." To accomplish this: "Educational services shall include a competency-based remedial education program."
On April 20, 2000, Securicor was advised that their agreement with the School Board would not be extended past the June 30 contract date. As a policy matter, the School Board voted to assume responsibility for alternative educational programming in the District, except for AMI and PACE programs. After this notification, Securicor discontinued hiring efforts and implemented a double school shift in an attempt to provide services. At the end of the June 30th contract date, this programming was discontinued.
The School District was unable to ramp-up the program for a July 3 start date, and in fact, no classes were offered until July 17. At this time, a limited schedule was implemented whereby youth attended school on a two day or three day schedule, alternating weeks. When the monitors toured July 18, some classes were in session in the education building and large class sizes were noted, 16 or 17 youth in two classes respectively, and 28 youth in the computer classroom. Monitors were advised that class sizes were expected to be 17 youth.
Throughout the audit, attempts were made to initiate some educational programming on several pods utilizing both substitutes and regular teachers. This was not a coordinated effort between the school personnel and Securicor, and on one occasion, educational personnel were ejected from one of the buildings by administrative staff. By July 24, the final day of the audit, teachers were allowed access to classrooms located in the pods (at the direction of DJJ), but desks and supplies were limited. In one instance, sixteen youth sat on the floor of an empty classroom for an hour and a half with no activities while waiting for a teacher. No administrative staff was available to make constructive decisions or redirect youth to another activity or location.
Other than a variety of indoor games and non-directed "free time" recreational activities in the courtyard, youth do not appear to be involved in any group activities. According to the Program Director, group counseling programs could not be implemented because of the rapid influx of youth and the inconsistent scheduling (see section on Other Program Areas).
No explanation was provided at the exit conference regarding the contractual requirement that: "The provider shall provide a minimum of 400 minutes per week of supplemental instructional programming assistance Monday through Sunday."
There is considerable discussion regarding the provision of additional classroom space by the elimination of vocational bays, the addition of portables, etc. These monitors are not supportive of this emphasis toward more traditional classroom courses and scheduling. Both Sago Palm and the sister facility, Polk, were built with four vocational bays, which should be utilized, and in fact, provide for the core focus of an educational program at a Level 8 DJJ facility. Youth during the audit expressed a strong interest in earning vocational skills versus the classroom setting. Polk currently conducts, and Pahokee previously offered, a single shift academic/vocational program utilizing currently existing space. The contract is written specifically to emphasize remediation, GED achievement and vocational skills. In fact, a "Culinary Arts Program" is specifically required by contract. A part-time program is currently provided by Securicor as part of the food service department, but it will not be integrated into the School District Program.
Securicor has responded to the educational needs and contractual requirements by creating a community school which will offer supplemental education and GED preparation in the evenings. Although laudable, it will be difficult to integrate with the regular school program and to encourage youth participation after a full school day. According to an analysis of the 7-20-00 census of Sago Palm Academy, 241 youth are 16 years old or older and would be eligible for consideration for a GED program based upon age. Both Florida and national statistics indicate that the majority of these youth will not enroll in a regular school after release and would benefit most from a program of remediation and vocational training.
Due to the focus of this audit, an incomplete review of health services was conducted as time was spent collecting and analyzing medical data related to use of force and safety issues. No polices were reviewed, however, several observations can be made regarding staffing and portions of service delivery.
The staffing pattern as authorized in the contract seems adequate for this size population.
HEALTH CAREDAYS1st SHIFT2nd SHIFT3rd SHIFTRELIEF10.75 FTEHealth Service Admin.5111Registered Nurse711.651.65Shift Nurse71.51.511.656.6Dental Assistant50.51.000.5Nurse Aide511.001.00Contract PhysicianContract DentistContract Psychiatrist
The staffing pattern is largely followed with the exception of the nurse aide position which is actually a clerical position and the half-time dental assistant which is not filled. Dental services are provided by a dentist and a dental assistant who are contracted for six hours a week each. In May, 69 youth were seen and in June 89 youth were seen, primarily for dental exams.
Physician and psychiatric services are also contracted. The physician contract includes four hours of service monthly, supplemented by twelve hours of nurse practitioner service. Additional hours were provided to complete the physical assessments when admissions were accelerated.
Although contracted for four hours a week, the psychiatrist is spending significantly more time on-site to meet the needs of the 70-plus youth who are on some type of psychotropic medication. The following hours are reported for the psychiatrist in June:
June 1 6.75
June 7 12.25
June 14 17.25
June 28 13.25
The hours are usually spent over a two day period and the following number of youth were seen in June:
June 1 14
June 7, 8 26
June 14, 15 33
June 28, 29 20
Twenty percent of the youth population at Sago Palm are taking psychotropics and this will be further discussed in the section on Mental Health.
The following information is provided from the DJJ Monthly Health Services Statistical Report: Form B:
APRILMAYJUNECensus220275328Chronic Physical Conditions Bronchodilators (Inhalers)202532 Anti-Seizure Medication003 Isoniazid (INH)121214Comprehensive Physical Assessments14610025HIV Testing0019Injuries from Use of Force21710Orthopedic Radiographs1*12Immunizations15762Group Health Education0610
*Although no off-site radiographs are listed for May, three fractures are reported as a result of use of force by staff.
During the exit conference the monitors recommended the establishment of a youth care worker post in medical, at least during the busy times. On one occasion, no youth care worker was observed in the unit at all during sick call. One youth was in the examining area and several youth were in the waiting room, one of whom was fairly disruptive.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mental health services for the 350 bed population at Sago Palm are currently provided by a Clinical Director, Ph.D. Psychologist, and two Masters level therapists. A contract psychiatrist (see Health Services section) oversights the pharmacological portion of the mental health treatment program. As indicated in the Health Services section, 70 youth or 20% of the resident population take one or more psychotropic medications (the pharmacy report is attached as Appendix 3). In order to monitor youth on psychotropics, the mental health staff created a "Weekly Report to Insure the Safety of Youth on Psychotropic Medications" (see sample page of report in Appendix 4). Additionally, an interdisciplinary committee is reviewing youth to review treatment plans.
On the second day of the audit, two youth were housed in confinement cells for "suicide watch." Upon inquiring, it was learned that one youth was actually placed for disciplinary reasons, and mental health had not been notified of the other youth's confinement so his status was unclear. The board in Master Control indicated that no youth were on suicide watch. On the final day of the audit, another youth was observed in confinement with a notation that he twice tried to tie a sheet around his neck in a four hour period. There were two youth workers in the "unit" and one indicated that she was assigned to "one-to-one supervision" of the youth.
Observations by these monitors, as well as a review of medical and mental health records, indicate that a number of youth are responding negatively to their environment. One very distraught youth was observed laying face down on the concrete crying inconsolably. A high level program administrator walked by, but did not offer to assist the youth worker in resolving the situation. Medical records report two instances of youth cutting wrists. Several reports of self-mutilation were also noted.
A youth was seen in medical earlier in July with a notation, "tried to hang himself." According to staff research the unit log book indicated the youth was taken to confinement at 5:30 p.m., but the Confinement Log had no notation of the youth's admission and there was no mention of suicidal gestures. Mental health personnel were not notified.
In the area of suicide prevention, the monitors have made the following recommendations:
A. Mental Health is to be notified immediately in case a suicide attempt or gesture is observed. Notations must be made in unit and confinement log books.
B. Mental Health is the only department authorized to remove youth from suicide watch.
C. Youth Workers assigned to provide one-on-one suicide watch supervision shall be specifically trained as to procedures to be followed.
D. Issue the velcro laundry bags which are in stock and remove stringed bags now in use.
Additionally, when confinement cells are utilized for suicide watch, it is imperative that staff recognize the reason for placement, follow the appropriate procedures and complete the required paperwork.
Substance Abuse Treatment
The staffing pattern calls for a Substance Abuse Treatment Supervisor and two Substance Abuse Counselors. The Supervisor position is currently filled by an employee of the previous provider, but the monitor was advised that this may not be a permanent assignment. This individual has primarily been administering the SASSI to determine future participants in the Substance Abuse Treatment Program scheduled to begin October 1, 2000. At that time additional funding is being provided by DJJ for the establishment of a 48-bed program for substance abusers. The monitor was advised that there are currently nine youth who have been court ordered to receive substance abuse treatment.
Another employee was transferred to the substance abuse area on 6-30-00 and interviews are currently being held to fill the third position. The 6-30-00 appointment has eighteen hours of college credit in Criminal Justice, although the Securicor position classification description requires the following:
Graduation from an accredited college with a Bachelor's Degree, supplemented by a Master's degree in Psychology, Social Work, counseling or other related area from an accredited college and completion of one (1) year of supervised full time clinical internship, or one (1) year of extensively supervised clinical experience. Prefer graduate training with a minimum of three (3) graduate semester hour credits in each of the following areas: psychological assessment; counseling and therapeutic techniques; behavior analysis and learning theory; human motivation and/or psychopathology; and research design and/or statistical analysis.
The Program Director indicates that the Case Managers will be responsible for implementing the psycho-educational component of the Substance Abuse program for the main population.
DJJ may wish to review the programmatic design, staffing ratios, and staff credentials/licensure prior to the implementation of the 48 bed program for specialized substance abuse treatment. Such a review would guarantee that the additional per diem overlay funding is utilized to provide sufficient qualified staff and other necessary resources to implement the program.
Sex Offender Unit
There are currently twenty-three sex offenders housed in single cells in a reconfigured 24 cell unit (one cell requires repairs to the sprinkler prior to occupancy). The contractual staffing calls for a Sex Offender Treatment Supervisor, but the program is currently provided by contractual services. The "Voyage Sex Offender Treatment Program" is supervised by a Ph.D. psychologist one day a week, supplemented by an M.S. therapist three days weekly. The program is based on guidelines set forth by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and consists of 13 modules, intended to take a minimum of 14 months to complete. The program was designed and copyrighted by the M.S. treatment specialist (see Appendix 5 for a brief program overview).
A "Supplemental Sago Palm Academy Resident Handbook" has been developed and some youth worker specialized training has been conducted. Several areas of the handbook need to be revised to conform with DJJ policy regarding mail as a priviledge. Also, telephone access should be reviewed since there are no collect only telephones on the units.
Because of the contracted nature of the current program, it will be challenging to achieve integration with the overall program while allowing for specialized hiring, procedures, etc. The following chart represents the current configuration of the population in the sex offender unit.
Unit 5TotalNo. of Youth12
13 – 0
14 - 0
15 - 6
16 - 4
17 - 1
18 - 0
19 - 1
13 - 1
14 - 3
15 - 4
16 - 1
17 - 2
18 - 0
19 - 0
13 - 1
14 - 3
15 - 10
16 - 5
17 - 3
18 - 0
19 – 1
6th - 0
7th - 1
8th - 2
9th - 6
10th - 0
Unknown – 3
6th - 1
7th - 2
8th - 4
9th - 3
10th - 1
Unknown - 0
6th - 1
7th - 3
8th - 6
9th - 9
10th - 1
Unknown - 3
4 - less than 80
4 - 80 to 100
2 - above 100
2 – unknown
4 - less than 80
5 – 80 to100
0 - above 100
2 - unknown
8 - less than 80
9 - 80 to100
2 - above 100
4 - unknownDJJ may wish to review the staffing pattern for the sexual offender treatment program to determine if it meets nationally recognized guidelines. Also, the sub-contract arrangement may not meet the intent of the contract for a Securicor provided, integrated program with a full-time supervisor. An additional component for review would be an analysis of expenditures in relation to the additional per diem payment for youth committed to the program.
This facility does not adhere to DJJ policy or procedure in respect to discipline. They use "Citation" reports and "Violation" reports (see Appendix 6) rather than standard DJJ disciplinary reports. Violations are broken down into two categories, "Serious" and "Major." According to the "Youth Handbook," a "Serious" violation results in a loss of 100 program credits (of 700 awarded each week).
A "Major" violation results in a loss of 300 program credits, and may additionally result in confinement if authorized by the Facility Administrator or designee. The list of "Major" violations which may result in confinement does not conform to the list of violations contained in the Residential Commitment Services Manual.
DJJ procedures for the operation of a confinement unit are not being followed. Records in confinement did not accurately report the reason the youth was confined. Records were found stating that youth were on "suicide watch" when they were actually there for disciplinary reasons. DJJ forms were being used for logging checks of youth, but these forms were being used incorrectly. There was no documentation that youth were being reviewed for possible release.
As was mentioned in the introduction, one youth was being housed in a cell in which the commode had been stopped up for up to two days. Staff were aware of this and were taking the youth out to use the toilet in another location. However, the cell was not cleaned and the toilet unstopped until it was discovered by the monitor.
Standing orders should be published directing that the confinement unit adhere to the following:
A. Intensified supervision over this unit
B. Specialized training of staff assigned to this unit
C. Differentiation of youth assigned (i.e. disciplinary vs. suicide risk)
D. Utilization of required DJJ procedures, forms and documentation requirements
E. Cells inspected frequently to assure the plumbing is operating properly and that cleanliness and sanitation standards are maintained
The Grievance Coordinator is still in her first month on the job, however she has extensive experience in corrections. The facility is assessing whether or not grievance forms should be readily available for youth to pick up or whether they should be required to request that staff give them a form. It is recommended that forms be available for youth to pick up as that assures that staff will not try to talk a youth out of filing the grievance.
A contradiction exists as to who will make the final decision on grievances. The Grievance Form and the "Youth Handbook" state that the Grievance Coordinator decision is final, whereas a notice posted on the bulletin board states that the "Facility Administrator's decision is final." It is suggested that some form of appeal to the Facility Administrator be provided.
In order that managers may be proactive it is recommended that the Grievance Coordinator develop a tracking matrix showing the nature and origin of grievances being filed. It is also necessary to more accurately record the outcome of the grievance. The Monthly Commitment Program report shows the number of grievances filed and the number approved as identical.
MAINTAINING FAMILY TIES
Facility policies should be redirected toward the overall goal of maintaining close ties between the youth and his family. Present policies are very restrictive and certain barriers have been erected which discourage family contact. Additionally, it is noted that the DJJ Logo as well as the names of the DJJ Secretary and Regional Chief are on the cover of the "Youth Handbook" containing these restrictive policies which implies DJJ approval and concurrence.
No visiting is allowed during the first two weeks of a youth's commitment. It would appear that this is a very important time and that visiting should be encouraged during this period.
Families are required to telephone the facility by Thursday close of business in order to visit that weekend. Advance reservations are a burdensome and unnecessary requirement to impose on families. Additionally, the family is required to produce certified birth certificates in order that younger siblings may visit, and all persons 14 years of age or older must have a driver’s license or official state photo ID card. These requirements are difficult for some families to accomplish.
Conflicting information is provided as to the length of visitation. The "Notification of Youth’s Admission," dated 7-20-2000 lists a period of 1 ˝ hours visitation time for each dorm. In actuality, the visiting period is limited to one hour which is extremely minimal considering the amount of time families have to spend driving to the facility. The reason offered for such a limited visiting period is the lack of space in the visiting area. However, space for overflow visiting is available and this facility has historically allowed two hours for visiting.
Finally, the "Youth Handbook" states "eligibility for visitation and hours is based on your level." The monitor's understanding is that visiting is a right and should not be tied to the Behavior Management Program.
Youth are allowed up to 2 free letters per week. However, since there is no way for families to send stamps or stamped envelopes in, this also is the maximum number of personal letters he can write each week. It is recommended that a mechanism be developed to allow additional letters provided they are at the families' expense.
The "Youth Handbook" states, "additional mailing privileges are available through your Case Manager and are based on your level." The VOYAGE (sex offender unit), Supplemental Resident Handbook also lists "additional outgoing mail" as a "priviledge" based upon the level system. Again our understanding is that mail is a right and should not be tied to the Behavior Management System.
These monitors' understanding is that youth are to be allowed one free phone call per week. However, the "Youth Handbook" states:
"All calls are made "collect" at your family's expense; however, if your family is financially unable to pay for these calls, the Program pays for one call per week, if requested to do so in writing by a family member."
This imposes an indigence standard which is not provided for in DJJ policy.
Another problem identified is the telephone schedule which is posted. Calls are scheduled for Monday through Thursday with Friday-Sunday being designated for make-up calls. It would appear more reasonable to have the scheduled calls on weekends when families are more likely to be home and youth have fewer activities.
Finally, it is noted that the collect only phones have been removed from dorms E-4 and E-5 which is the sex offender unit. One reason given was that youth may try to contact their victims. Care should be taken to assure that these youth are receiving authorized telephone privileges through some alternative means.
OTHER PROGRAM AREAS
Youth do not appear to be classified into dorms and groups by age, size and maturity level. Visual observation shows small, immature 13 year olds mixed in with large 16+ year olds.
The facility advised that during the period when they were filling with approximately 25 youth per week, they simply placed new youth all in the same dorm. However, they advise that approximately two weeks prior to this monitoring visit they did reclassify the population and did move youth. One pod was set aside for management cases although it is not officially designated a Behavior Management Unit and no special programming is provided.
It is recommended that another reclassification review of the population be accomplished using standard criteria such as age, size, maturity level, offense, etc. Both Health and Mental Health staff should be involved in this reclassification process. This monitor asked several times for information on one particular immature 13 year old who was housed in a pod with large youth, however information was not provided as requested. Unless there is some overriding reason to the contrary, youth such as these should be housed together to prevent exploitation by older youth.
There is no formal orientation program. Youth are simply assigned to a housing unit and orientation is expected to be accomplished by the Case Manager. There is a handbook, but no outline to follow. The Program Director indicated that the youth handbook is currently being rewritten for the upcoming QA audit. It was pointed out that other areas of the handbook need to be revised based upon the monitors review of the mail, visitation, provision of shoes, etc.
One pod (D-4) was referred to as the orientation dorm, however it was in reality a unit for youth who had displayed behavior problems. One newly received youth who should have been in orientation was assigned to the unit. This is not a good setting for a newly arrived youth who is getting started in the program. The Securicor Regional Administrator advised the monitor that this youth was moved to another location after this was called to his attention.
It was suggested that all youth undergo a "re-orientation" program based upon the revisions to the handbook related to policies previously discussed, length of stay and any changes to the Behavior Management System which are implemented.
Behavior Management Program
The Behavior Management program as it has been implemented is a negative reward system. Youth are given 700 points each week and then deductions are made for negative behavior. There is no mechanism for youth to earn points through positive behavior achievement. This is particularly confusing since the April 19, 2000, Youth Handbook describes the system as follows:
Earning Credits: The Center provides you with a way to earn program credits. An Earnings Sheet records your behavior. You have the opportunity to earn a total of one hundred (100) credits each day. You earn credits by independently following the program's schedule and rules. During the day, there are set times that staff records the credits you earn. The more you follow the schedule and rules without other resident's and staff's help (prompts, cues), the more credits you can earn for that activity and time period.
This is further described in the section on the Program Store where it states: "When you follow the rules you can earn up to 700 credits each week." Although credits are able to be "spent each week" for "various items," in actuality youth must retain at least 650 of the original 700 points to order from the store at all, and then points are not expended for particular items but youth select only one or two items based upon level (see Appendix 7). The requirement for 650 points means almost perfect behavior on the part of the youth for an entire week with no opportunity to "earn back" points for improved behavior.
Deductions are made through a system of Citation Forms (10 points) for minor violations and Violation Forms (100 or 300 points) for serious and major violations (see Appendix 6). A review of these forms which are placed in a box outside master control showed staff inconsistency in allocating deductions: one youth was cited for "out of control" for refusing to keep chair on floor and punching buttons on the computer;" another youth was cited for "inciting a disturbance" for using profanity and disturbing the class. Both youth lost 300 points, eliminating any opportunity for store purchases.
Behavior level responsibilities and privileges should be reviewed and revised to be more specific and provide additional incentives for performance (as also requested by the Resident Council). Basic rights such as mail and visitation must be eliminated as level privileges previously discussed. Staff and youth must be oriented on a new system and it should be consistently applied and positively based.
A Resident Council was formed and held its first meeting on 7-13-00. The minutes of this meeting (see Appendix 8) reflect that an open dialogue was conducted on many of the problems of concern to youth. It is noted that a number of these concerns are similar to issues raised in this monitoring report.
Several sections of the contract refer to the responsibilities of the Provider in the areas of social skills development and counseling as noted below:
Development of Social Skill Enhancement
The Provider shall provide counseling and training programs to measurably improve individual youth's social skills level. The Provider shall provide specific skills training programs to include anger replacement, social problem-solving, and interpersonal communication skills, coping skills, and self-control training. The Provider's proposed manuals and curriculum are incorporated by reference from page 5 of the proposal entitled Pahokee Youth Development Center dated September 6, 1999.
The Provider shall provide gender sensitive counseling intended to resolve individual and family problems having a negative impact on the youth. The Provider shall provide a comprehensive treatment and counseling program that includes: individual, group, and family counseling; mental health counseling; vocational counseling and preparation; and identification and treatment of alcohol, substance abuse, and sexual offense issues, social skills training, interpersonal problem solving including family conflict resolution, and training in moral reasoning and decision-making. The youth shall be provided with a variety of positive and challenging learning experiences that are designed to increase youth's social responsibility and awareness.
It is noted that manuals and a curriculum are incorporated by reference in the contract for utilization with the youth population. At the time of the audit, little, if any, group counseling was being conducted. According to the Program Director, some youth have received an initial phase on anger management. The curriculum is currently being developed for other areas, including the contractually required Victim Impact Classes. The plan is for the Case Mangers to conduct the majority of the group sessions.
This lack of structured programming activity exacerbates the idleness and youth management issues. As indicated in the section on Education, the Program Director reports that the rapid influx of youth and scheduling difficulties has hampered the implementation of the group counseling. Additionally, Case Managers who will be expected to implement the program, including the psycho-educational substance abuse component will need to be trained
LENGTH OF STAY
Youth are receiving mixed messages as to what their length of stay at this facility will be. This is causing severe morale problems. The Residential Commitment Services manual states that Level 8 youth have an average length of stay of 9-12 months. Some youth state that they have been told this by Judges and/or JPOs.
The "Youth Handbook" states that the average length of stay is 14 months and youth are advised of this at intake.
Two posters which were displayed in the dormitories indicate that if youth were committed prior to July 1, 2000 (which applies to all youth currently at the facility), it is possible for them to be released in 12 months (see Appendix 9).
It is recommended that clarification of this very important issue be obtained, and that subsequently all parties involved deliver the same message to youth.
OTHER FACILITY OPERATIONS
Entry level pay for Youth Worker classes is currently as follows:
Youth Care Worker I $10.00 per hr. / $20,800 annually
Youth Care Worker 2 $10.89 per hr. / $22,651 annually
Many efforts are being made to recruit staff including advertising and posting, job fairs, internet listings, posters and flyers, an employee referral program, and a car pool program.
Of interest is that during this audit, the E building Manager scheduled and conducted interviews for Youth Worker vacancies in that building. While the initiative of this manager is to be commended, it would appear that job recruitment and interviews should be for the entire facility and not one housing unit.
The food service department was found to be very well managed and staffed. The menu is "youth friendly" and quantities of food are larger than has been observed at other facilities. The contract requires 5,000 calories per day per youth which is a higher number than is required in other contracts. Youth had few complaints about the food.
Quarterly inspections by the County Health Department reflected only minor deficiencies which were corrected. No sanitation or cleanliness deficiencies were noted by this monitor. Two cookpots were inoperable but all other equipment was seviceable. DJJ accomplished significant renovations to the kitchen facility during the changeover from one vendor to another. This included the addition of stainless steel walls throughout the kitchen.
A culinary arts training program has been offered by Securicor consisting of one hour per day for 10 weeks. Students prepared a buffet for staff during the audit.
Clothing and Laundry
Velcro laundry bags are in stock but were being issued only as replacements for the stringed laundry bags already in use. It was recommended as a safety and security measure that these velcro bags be issued and the string bags be taken out of circulation. The facility agreed to implement this suggestion.
The contract requires the vendor to provide clothing to youth which includes shoes. However, the "Youth Handbook" states:
You are required to supply your own shoes while you are here. The program is not responsible for loss or damage of shoes."
It was recommended that this policy be rescinded and that the facility order and supply shoes to youth.
Fire drills are being conducted and are documented. This monitor made two requests for copies of the Fire Marshal Reports so that these could be reviewed to assure that deficiencies had been corrected. However, the reports were not provided as requested. It is therefore recommended that all such reports be provided to the DJJ Contract Manager for review.
The maintenance department is well staffed with a total of six FTEs broken down as follows:
Maintenance Full-Time - 3
Housekeeping AM / Maintenance PM - 3
A computerized system of tracking work orders is in place and the current staff is able to keep up to date with work requirements.
Two problems seem to be creating the impression that maintenance is not keeping up with the demands of the job. The first problem is lack of spare parts to replace or repair locks. The Maintenance Supervisor advises it is taking 15-16 weeks to obtain parts to repair the locks. Efforts should be intensified to obtain these repair parts and such efforts should be documented.
The other major problem appears to be lack of communication with the maintenance department. This monitor inquired about inoperable intercoms as well as an inoperable cell in E-5. The maintenance department was unaware of the two situations. The intercoms could have been taken care of recently when the electronics contractor was at the facility performing other maintenance. The maintenance department began efforts immediately to repair the inoperable cell.