Cherokee juvenile detention center denies allegations of mistrea - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Cherokee juvenile detention center denies allegations of mistreatment

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CHEROKEE, Iowa (KTIV) - The investigation focused on an incident at Cherokee, Iowa's juvenile detention center in September of 2012. A report details a 17-year-old resident being combative and aggressive toward staff. The center says the teen tried three times to commit suicide. After kicking at staff, the incident report reveals he was placed in leather restraints. State investigators for the Department of Inspections and Appeals, a division of DHS, determined the boy was kept in those restraints for 47 hours. According to state code, mechanical restraints may not be used more than an hour without written authorization.

"The investigators went in and they found that there were some deficiencies,” said DHS Public Information Officer Amy McCoy.

"These charges are unfounded."#2"Because of a paper work anomaly we can't prove that it's not true,” said Don Kass, YES Board President.

When the state started the investigation, many of the daily logs were missing. A month later, Director Cheryl McGrory told the investigators she'd found paperwork in question on her computer and submitted it. The facility's board, which is made up of supervisors from the 14 counties (Clay, Buena Vista, Carroll, Cherokee, Dickinson, Emmet, Ida, Lyon, O’Brien, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Crawford) that use the center believes the logs were doctored by a disgruntled former employee.

"There is 100% support for management staff here at the YES center,” said Kass.

In a report obtained by KTIV, DHS investigators also expressed concern that the teen placed in restraints was not under continuous observation for the 47 hours, and that children were locked in their rooms for up to two hours, during periods of short staffing.

"We're going to move forward with hiring more part-time staff, and bring it up to the standard that DIA would like us to,” said Kass.

DHS says interviews with staff supported the original allegations and corroborated the information logged on the director's computer. However, because the incident happened the previous year, DHS allowed the facility to keep operating, with a provisional license.

"They found those deficiencies didn't present an eminent danger. This is their opportunity to put that corrective action in place to make that the kids are well treated,” explained McCoy.

"We're trying to get these kids prepared to get back into society, hopefully, as productive members of society who've learned their lesson. We can only do that if we treat these children humanely and with dignity,” Kass said.

During a visit to the facility, McGrory, who Kass said was prohibited from doing interviews with the media, reiterated that no resident was ever placed in restraints for more than an hour. She said this was a matter of a paperwork problem and retaliation by a former employee.

The center submitted a corrective plan of action, which DHS has approved.  Their investigators went back through the facility this month and the detention center will receive a full license on April 2nd.

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