The Slatest

Review of Virginia Immigrant Detention Facility Finds Children Were Restrained but Not Abused

A teenager holds the back of his head.
A teenager prepares to leave for Guatemala after being captured en route to the U.S.
John Moore/Getty Images

A state review of the treatment of immigrant teenagers at a Virginia detention center has found that the center did not meet the legal threshold of abuse or neglect, according to the Associated Press. The center had allegedly left immigrant teenagers in restraints for lengthy periods of time and placed mesh bags over their heads.

The report was issued on Monday by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and concluded that the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center could improve conditions for the detainees to make them less jail-like and more suitable for Spanish-speaking teenagers, but rejected the accusations of abuse and said the use of restraints fell within normal, legal regulations.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the review in June after the AP reported on a 2017 class-action lawsuit by young teenagers who attested to being shackled and beaten. They also told the AP that staff would strip them and lock them in solitary confinement and sometimes place bags over their heads and strap them to chairs.

The state investigators have said they could not interview those teenagers, as they had all been deported or transferred since. But the legal advocacy group that had represented the teenagers said the investigators had never contacted them.

The facility holds around 92 immigrant children, mostly from Mexico and Central America, a year. These teenagers have not been convicted of crimes but are often sent to the facility because of problems at other kinds of housing.