Juvenile Detention Center Restructures

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 8, 2010 at 7:19 PM EDT

Investigations into the New York State Juvenile System has found evidence of abuse, which has some facilities restructuring the way they discipline troubled teens.

But as Action News Reporter Caitlin Nuclo tells us, the controversy, has prompted actor Louis Gossett Jr to pull his name off a center in Lansing.

Multiple investigations into misconduct at juvenile detention centers, has facilities across the state reviewing punishment policies.

"We're the ones that have been making a re-effort to highlight the problems to be able to change them. By identifying the problems we have been able to move toward changing the system," said Edward Borges of the New York State Office of Child and Family Services.

That change starts with a new name.

The Lansing facility was titled after Academy Award winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr.

But he pulled his name, after negative news circled the center.

"Whatever abuse is happening there if it's under the name abuse I don't want to put my name or foundation in the same sentence," said Louis Gossett Jr.

It's now the Finger Lakes Residential Center.

And it's shifting its method of discipline to a more therapeutic model.

"We've also reduced the number of convict criteria where staff can restrain a child so these are really significant changes," said Borges.

Now, staff can only constrain a child, if he threatens to harm himself, someone else or if he's going to run away.

Borges estimates restraints have been reduced by two-thirds.

A change that Gossett favors.

He stresses the importance of investing in our youth.
"I try to do the best I can in my life, and then kids copy that, you teach better by example than screaming in somebody's ears," said Gossett.

"We've been moving aggressively to take the lead in becoming the model juvenile justice program," said Borges

A new direction for a facility that aims to put troubled teens on a new path in life.

Gossett says he would consider re-associating himself with the center if it made positive changes.

He runs a foundation that promotes peace, and personal responsibility among youth.

The Finger Lakes Residential Center is home to more than 100 boys.

New York runs 28 juvenile facilities across the state.

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