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Restraints, injuries highest at Tryon

November 16, 2008
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

PERTH - The number of times staff members restrain youths at the Tryon Residential Center and the number of injuries to workers and juvenile residents are higher than they are at other similar state juvenile detention facilities across New York state, documents show.

The Leader-Herald obtained the information through a state Freedom of Information Law request to the state Office of Children & Family Services, which oversees more than 30 juvenile detention facilities in New York state.

The state provided information on restraints, injuries and abuse cases for Tryon and other similar facilities.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The main Tryon Campus is located on County Highway 107. The sigh is shown Monday.

According to OCFS spokesman Edward Borges, the number of restraint cases was not collected by the central office in Rensselaer until January 2007. He said when OCFS Commisioner Gladys Carrion's new administration came in, it became a "priority" to collect such data in light of the death of Tryon resident Darryl Thompson.

Thompson, a 15-year-old Bronx boy who had an altercation with staff in November 2006 at Tryon Boys Limited Secure, had to be restrained and waseventually transported to St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, where he died.

The staff was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Fulton County grand jury and it

Fact Box

Restraints, injuries at Tryon

Restraints used for 2007:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 898

Tryon Girls Center - 270

Taberg Residential Center - 20

Gossett Limited Facility - 207

Industry Limited Secure Center - 222

Highland - 403

Restraints used for January to March 2008:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 242

Tryon Girls Center - 147

Taberg Residential Center - three

Gossett Limited Facility - 65

Industry Limited Secure Center - 108

Resident injuries for 2007:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 38

Tryon Girls Center - 73

Taberg Residential Center - none

Gossett Limited Facility - four

Industry Limited Secure Center - 25

Highland - 9

Resident injuries for

January to March 2008:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 13

Tryon Girls Center - 78

Taberg Residential Center - none

Gossett Limited Facility - four

Industry Limited Secure Center - 15

Staff injuries for 2007:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 262

Tryon Girls Center - 85

Taberg Residential Center - 30

Gossett Limited Facility - 59

Industry Limited Secure Center - 119

Highland - 79.

Staff injuries for

January to March 2008:

Tryon Residential Center for boys - 86

Tryon Girls Center - 76

Taberg Residential Center - none

Gossett Limited Facility - 23

Industry Limited Secure Center - 46

- Highland data for January to March 2008 were not provided by the state.

was determined the boy had a pre-existing heart condition. It was the first death of a resident from an incident at an OCFS facility in 12 years, the state said.

According to 2007 data:

The Tryon Residential Center for boys used 898 restraints, and 38 residents were injured from restraints. The number of staff members injured was 262.

At the Tryon Girls Center, there were 270 restraints. The number of injured residents was 73.

The number of Tryon staff members injured on the girls side was 85.

The state has four other juvenile detention facilities that are similar to Tryon.

They are the Taberg Residential Center in Oneida County, the Louis Gossett Jr. Limited Facility in Lansing, Tompkins County, the Industry Limited Secure Center in Rush, Monroe County, and the Highland Limited Center in Ulster County.

As of March, Taberg had 16 residents; Gossett had 116 residents; Industry Limited had 66 residents; the Tryon boys center had 117; and the Tryon girls center had 58. Highland had 141 residents in 2007 (2008 figures were not provided by the state).

In comparison to those four limited facilities, the retraint and injury numbers were higher at the Tryon campus.

According to 2007 data:

The Taberg Residential Center had 20 restraints, and no residents were injured. A total of 30 staff members were injured in 2007.

At the Gossett facility, 207 restraints were used. Four residents were injured and 59 staff members were injured.

At Industry Limited Secure Center, 222 restraints were used. A total of 25 residents were injured and 119 staff members were injured.

At the Highland facility, 403 restraints were used. Nine residents were injured and 79 staff members were injured.

Tryon problems

Earlier this year, reports began leaking to The Leader-Herald about residents being out of control at Tryon and staff being unable to handle situations. In August, OCFS put into place a temporary plan to reduce the male population at the Tryon Residential Center by nearly half.

Michael Geraghty, president of the Local 559, the Civil Service Employees Association unit representing the Tryon juvenile rehabilitation facility's youth division aides, said last week that Tryon - which always has had the worst juvenile offenders from downstate - was down to 27 residents on the boys side.

Officials have been saying the Tryon campus would be repopulated with boys later this year. However, Gov. David Paterson last week proposed reducing the number of beds on the boys' side by 50. The governor also proposed cutting 39 jobs.

OCFS spokesman Borges said the reductions will occur.

State officials said they are stepping up training at the Tryon campus, which is split into three main residential areas - Tryon Boys Limited Secure, Tryon Girls Secure and Tryon Girls Limited Secure.

The educational component of the campus is also known as Tryon School.

In August, Geraghty reported many people out of work at Tryon because of injuries.

During the summer, of the 130 to 140 staff members at Tryon, about 80 were out on workers' compensation.

Geraghty said the Tryon residents were sent to the Goshen juvenile facility in Orange County, where he said there have been riots recently.

He said the CSEA has been trying to tell the state that no matter where the bad offenders go, they will cause trouble.

Public Employees Federation Director of Public Relations Darcy Wells, whose union also represents workers at Tryon, said PEF is well aware of high number of injuries at Tryon compared to other sites.

She said she's not sure if that's because Tryon gets the worst offenders or whether the staff isn't allowed to restrain residents as much as in the past.

Abuse cases

The number of child abuse cases, as rated by the state, at the Tryon campus has been increasing since early 2007, the data found. Child abuse cases for the Tryon Residential Center boys side in 2008, from January through September, was 138. That was higher than 122 for 2007.

Child abuse cases at the Tryon Girls side was 49 for the first nine months of this year. There was no girls' figure available for 2007.

New approach

Borges said a new approach to working with residents - the "sanctuary" model - is a more therapeutic approach and is working well.

"Sanctuary works once the staff shifts from the anachronistic corrections-based model that had such a poor outcome fort children and accepts and fully utilizes the new evidence-based paradigm that has been so successful in other states."

Borges said the training at Tryon has been going so well that OCFS is not only looking to implement it at other youth detention facilities, but other facilities under the umbrella of OCFS. That agency encompasses a wide range of social services across the state.

Borges provided The Leader-Herald with a book from September 2006 by Human Rights Watch titled, "Custody and Control - Conditions of Confinement in New York's Juvenile Prisons for Girls."

The report states, in part: "Girls held in both the Lansing and Tryon facilities told us that staff frequently employ physical force in response to minor rule violations that pose no threat to the security of either staff or girls.

The force is not only used without just cause, but is excessive, sometimes resulting in injuries to girls and staff."

Michael Anich covers Fulton County and Johnstown. He can be reached at



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