AFSCME IOWA COUNCIL 61: GOVERNOR BRANSTAD AND DHS SHOULD IMMEDIATELY ACCEPT OFFER OF STAFF TRAINING FOR IOWA JUVENILE HOME Print
News Releases - General Info
Written by Brian Jennings   
Friday, 16 August 2013 10:05

DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan released the following statement concerning the need for additional staff training at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo and Governor Branstad’s comments regarding privatization of the Home:

“Governor Branstad and the Iowa Department of Human Services should immediately accept the offer of free staff training from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. This organization is highly regarded and deals with other similarly-situated public facilities. Accepting their offer of assistance should be a common sense decision for this Administration.

“I want to thank the staff of the Iowa Juvenile Home. They are committed and work very hard to turn around the lives of children who truly need assistance. Much of their hard work may not make it into media reports, but I know that staff truly cares about the home’s residents. The frontline staff has no control over management decisions and the amount of training they receive.

“The Governor’s interest in privatizing the home is misguided and an attempt to avoid accountability for the failures of the Iowa Juvenile Home management and Department of Human Services leadership. The use of ‘isolation rooms’ was a decision made by the management of the Iowa Juvenile Home. If Director Palmer was not aware of their use, he should have been.

“Iowans need accountable leadership at the Iowa Juvenile Home and Department of Human Services. Hiring an outside contractor to run the home would diminish public control and oversight.

“The record of privatizing juvenile facilities in this country is a poor one. For-profit facilities put profits ahead of children and even non-profit facilities lack the accountability that comes from being directly overseen by representatives of our elected leaders. Privatized facilities have little incentive to rehabilitate youths: doing so would reduce their revenue.

Some examples of the dangers of privatized facilities include:

  • In Pennsylvania, the developer of a privatized juvenile detention facility bribed two judges to divert children to his facility.
  • One private juvenile detention facility in Mississippi run by GEO Group Inc. was found by US District Court Judge Carlton Reeves to have ‘allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate.’ Problems at the facility included staff inciting violence between youths, hiring staff with gang affiliations, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of rehabilitation services and educational services provided to youths.

“Furthermore, privately run services are often considered out of sight, out of mind by elected officials, which leads to decreased funding and eventual elimination of services as seen most recently at Abbe Center.

“We call on the Branstad Administration and Department of Human Services leadership to immediately accept the offer of free training by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Furthermore, they should drop proposals to privatize the home and diminish the Administration’s accountability for the manner in which the facility is run.”

 

Sources:

CNN Website, 2/24/2009

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/02/23/pennsylvania.corrupt.judges/

Southern Poverty Law Center Website, 5/3/2012:

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-investigation-lawsuit-expose-barbaric-conditions-at-for-profit-youth-prison-i

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