October, 23 2017

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Vermont Facility Changes Policy for Restraining Troubled Teens

A state facility for troubled teens has changed its restraint policy after a second youth suffered a broken wrist while being subdued in the last year.

The state Department of Children and Families is investigating this summer's incident at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility.

"It was a serious incident involving a resident exhibiting out-of-control behavior and the young person suffered a broken wrist," said department Commissioner Steve Dale.

Since the injury, Dale said he has ordered Woodside to stop using the "pain compliance" method. Woodside had already started to replace the method with one that does not involve inflicting pain.

The facility has been working to improve the living conditions and its treatment of youths since a critical report by an advocacy group last year, said Dale and an advocacy group.

"Overall, it is a reasonably well-run facility now on both sides residential and detention," said Ed Paquin, head of Vermont Protection & Advocacy Inc. "There's been good progress in many areas."

Paquin's group had accused the state of ignoring "dilapidated" living conditions at Woodside and not properly training staff. The study also criticized Woodside's methods of restraining youths.

Since then the state has addressed many of the problems with the living conditions, Dale said.

But Paquin said the state has not been as prompt in addressing the restraint methods.

He said he is waiting for the results of the investigation into the latest incident although he said he was pleased Dale acted quickly to ban the "pain compliance" procedure.

With the new method two staff members hold down the youth without manipulating joints in a way that could be painful, Dale said.

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