In response to Governor Northam’s call for an investigation into abuse allegations from immigrant children detained in Virginia juvenile facilities, Valerie Slater, Coalition Coordinator of RISE for Youth, issued the following statement:
“The reports of abuse from immigrant children being held in the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center are horrific. The recently filed lawsuit charges that children were subjected to violent abuse – restrained in chairs, bags put over their heads, and forcibly injected with psychotropic drugs. All Virginians, whether they are parents or not, should ask themselves if we want this happening in our name.
“Abuse at juvenile facilities doesn’t just affect immigrant children. By locking up young people, we’re continuing an archaic and ineffective institution which results in the isolation of children at a time when they are still developing. Children need support, not more trauma. I’m glad that Governor Northam recognizes the urgency of this issue and has called for an investigation.
“Despite these awful reports, Virginia can change for the better. The abuse in the Shenandoah facility underscores the harms of locking up youth, and Governor Northam is right to call for an investigation of this facility. He must do more to reexamine the juvenile justice system’s over-reliance on prison cells for children. The Governor can begin by meeting with the most directly impacted communities and supporting impacted community voices in the development of effective prison alternatives.”