Juvenile Corrections: the wrong lesson
How former juvenile inmates say they can get early release by not following the rules. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Idaho Juvenile Corrections is supposed to help kids turn their lives around.
But-- in some cases -- they're doing anything but.
Former inmates say they are learning the wrong lessons.
The Nampa Juvenile Corrections facility is supposed to be a safe haven.
A place to turn young lives around.
But that's not how some former inmates see it.
"Solis: They are teaching kids to be better criminals. Reporter: That's a shocking statement. Solis: That's exactly what it is though."
Mallory Solis, who spent close to two years in juvenile corrections, talked to us by phone from eastern Idaho about what she says most juvenile inmates know.
"Reporter: If you wanted to get out faster the best way is to act up? Solis: Basically, Yeah."
D'kota Haley, also a former inmate, agrees,
"That's exactly how it is, I tried for 17 months to get release and when I didn't get it I acted up, and got out in four months."
Unlike adult inmates, juveniles don't have specific terms. Their release is predicated in part on whether they complete programs and toe the line.
But if they cause chaos instead?
"If you go cause riots and beat up everyone you see and continue acting up and make no effort, eventually they'll give up on you and just release you," says Robert.
Robert is a former inmate who asked us to hide his identity.
He and other juveniles say acting up can be worth it to avoid what they call unbearable conditions.
"It gets to the point where you're so irritated and trying to change, with people breathing down your neck, so bad and you have to get outta there." says Solis.
They say it can get especially bad if you write a grievance.
"You have staff in there that mentally torment you and make you feel inadequate because you're exercising rights." says Robert.
Andrew Schoppe, the attorney for juvenile corrections whistleblowers says that's just not right.
"They should be incarcerated and rehabbed, but not there to be tormented or placed at risk. Juvenile corrections has an obligation to duty to take care of them, not just prisoners. They're still children."
Clearly, not every staff member causes problems.
Many, like these whistleblowers say they are trying to make things better.
The juveniles we talked to say the problem lies with the department's director.
"In my opinion, it's Mrs. Harrigfeld. She runs the programs and doesn't want to deal with the BS at all and if it's not going her way, you have to get out."
We contacted the director of juvenile corrections, Sharon Harrigfeld, for comment on this series but have received only an e mail stating that the district is committed to providing safe and secure facilities for juveniles.
Monday hear how widespread these issues are and why former juveniles say oversight is seriously lacking.