Youth detention center ignores concerns

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am writing to address concerns about a juvenile detention facility in Anchorage. My now-21-year-old son spent some time there. He told me that when the resident youths tried to address grievances, the paperwork would just disappear. It seemed that just because they were locked up, the staff felt all they wanted was attention. I've heard similar complaints about adult correctional centers as well.

I hope authorities actually do something about it rather than sweep it under the rug. Inmates are people, too, and still have the same rights as any person. Just because they are locked up, doesn't mean they deserve less rights. I know when I tried to address some of my son's problems, I was told that it would be looked at when the staff had the time. A lot of my concerns went unresolved. Once my son turned 18, the staff seemed more concerned with getting him quickly out the door.

He doesn't really know how to live by society's standards; he wasn't given the skills to cope with life outside an institution setting. Since leaving the facility, he has been in and out of jail. I've tried to help him learn what is acceptable behavior and what would get him into trouble and have not had much luck.

It doesn't help that he has a mental disability, which was diagnosed while he was in juvenile detention. He has since seen other mental health professionals and they agree with the diagnosis. So I remain a parent still trying to raise an adult. Because of some of his choices, I'm labeled a bad parent. I've done the best I could with what I have, but it still remains a two-way street. I can offer to teach him, but he has to be able to accept it. When others aren't willing to teach, we all fail.

Cecelia Friberg-Rodriguez


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