Health And Public Safety

Youth Services Center Releases Detention Self Inspection Documents

2:24 PM

Every three years the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center conducts a Detention Self Inspection according to the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Standards. Community and State Experts, Youth and Families are invited to inspect the Detention Center and review its policies and its daily practice. This transparent process results in recommendations for refinement and improvement which are then implemented through the cooperative effort of Youth Services Center, the Community, and Juvenile Justice Collaborative Partners.

Two Detention Self Inspection Documents detail the overall recommendations and those that specifically impact the families of detained youth. The Detention Self Inspection has over 400 standards to meet.

Bernalillo County’s most recent conditions assessment yielded high marks from the audit team in youth safety, medical care, staff training, and creative programming, Click here to see video of Core Enrichment Programs. The assessment team noted significant progress in the Youth Services Center’s multi-phase process for reducing room confinement and encouraged continued work on this issue, which has been a top priority. As is the case with any conditions assessment, the team identified many recommendations for how the facility can improve and strive for compliance with all of the JDAI standards. Key takeaways for areas to improve during our most recent assessment included detention overrides, the facility’s environment, and involvement of families in the facility’s policies and practices.

Detention overrides remain an issue of concern in Bernalillo County, as they do in many JDAI sites. Top override reasons included parental refusal to take custody of their child and being unable to locate a parent. To help address these issues, Bernalillo County has initiated plans to increase access to temporary and transitional housing to reduce overrides for these reasons.

At the assessment team’s recommendation, Bernalillo County is also taking additional steps to move away from a correctional atmosphere to an environment of positivity and support. This involves finding new ways of introducing positive imagery and color into a decades-old facility that was built as a secure detention center (a challenge for many other facilities). However, it also involves moving away from unnecessary correctional practices. For example, Bernalillo County is introducing new technology to limit the use of strip searches to all but a handful of cases.

Finally, Bernalillo County’s JDAI Administrator, Gerri Bachicha, has partnered with a community-based agency, New Mexico Strong Families, to create new space for family members with system-involved youth to advise and guide the detention center in policy and practice development on issues that impact families.

Click here to read the Detention Self Inspection Findings

Click here to read the Detention Audit Findings

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