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Long IslandNassau

What the probe found in the detention centers

MAJOR FINDINGSExcessive force. Workers resort too quickly to a "high degree of force that is disproportionate," often resulting in injuries.

Inappropriate force. Workers used a "clearly incorrect method" called the "hook and trip," which is described as thus: "staff restrain a youth's arms behind his or her back, then trip the youth's legs so they fall to the floor face first."

Too many injuries. At the Lansing Residential Center in Ithaca, 123 girls suffered injuries ranging from bruises to concussions at the hands of staff members in 2007. Two children a day were restrained there on average that year.

No accountability. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, which oversees the detention centers, "has failed to hold staff accountable for gross violations of [state] police on the use of force and restraints."

Mental illness missed. The majority of psychiatric evaluations "did not come close to meeting" minimum standards. "As a consequence, the treatment of youth with serious mental illness was based on poor information and was generally ineffective."

RECOMMENDATIONS

Force as a last resort. Restraints should only be used if a youth is clearly a danger to himself or others, and they should never be used as punishment.

More training. Instruct workers on the use of force, crisis intervention, de-escalation techniques and child abuse reporting.Police your own. Administrators must take staff misconduct seriously.

Mental health. Revise policies for making psychiatric diagnoses and for administering psychotropic medication.

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