Sharon Harrigfeld, director of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections, has released a statement in the wake of a whistleblower lawsuit charging abuses at a Nampa juvenile center run by the department, saying, “I believe in our programs and I believe in our staff.” The lawsuit includes charges that staff members had sex with jailed juveniles at the center. Here's Harrigfeld's full statement:
“While it is standard practice for an agency facing a lawsuit to limit discussion about the allegations outside of the legal process, when questions are raised about the safety of juveniles in our care and custody and the safety of our staff it is important for me as the director to provide reassurance that our facilities are safe. I am confident that our staff and the procedures we have in place focus on the safety and protection of juveniles in our custody and ensure that when allegations of misconduct are brought forward they are investigated and appropriate action is taken.
“This is a difficult time for the Department, especially for the staff who do incredible and challenging work in the facilities to provide the best services to the juveniles committed to their care. I believe in our programs and I believe in our staff. I thank all staff for the public service provided each day to community safety.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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