New Hampshire lawmakers debate how to shut down YDC

Lawmakers working to shut down New Hampshire’s troubled youth detention center on Tuesday heard differing views on whether to build a new facility or contract with a private company. The state currently spends $13 million a year to operate the 144-bed Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, although the typical population is currently around a dozen teenagers. The debate over his future began years ago, but it boiled over amid horrific allegations of sexual abuse. The state budget last June called for the center to close by March 2023. However, the Senate last month passed a bill that would extend the deadline, giving the state until June 30, 2024 to build a new facility. Now the debate has moved to the State House. In a public hearing Tuesday before a House committee, supporters said that timeline was more realistic given the demands placed on the construction industry. They pointed out that a state-run facility would allow the Office of the Children’s Advocate, an independent oversight agency, to maintain real-time access to children’s records and respond to issues immediately if necessary. “Our impression is that a state-owned facility will provide the best return on investment and the most flexible use of that investment,” said Cassandra Sanchez, who served as the watchdog agency’s 4-year-old. earlier this week.The Senate bill has the support of the Minors’ Rights Policy Group, a coalition of nonprofit groups that advocate for vulnerable young people, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Opponents argued that contracting with an existing private facility could save money because the state would pay per child per day instead of maintaining its own fixed-cost facility. says private companies with expertise in dealing with these children could do a better job than the state, given its poor record of child safety. name of former Governor John H. Sununu, has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and 11 former workers were arrested in April. Lawmakers are also considering a $100 million fund to settle claims filed by nearly 450 former residents who sued the state with allegations involving more than 150 employees from 1963 to 2018 years ago,” said former Rep. Neal Kurk, who opposed the bill passed the Senate and said it would create a “mini-Sununu center.” “It’s the wrong approach,” he said “The idea that we would pass the Senate bill suggests that we have learned nothing from history and that we want history to repeat itself.” Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, agreed, saying that the bill passed by the Senate focused too much on the building and not enough on the proper treatment of children.”To me, it feels like we’re taking another step backwards,” she said . . “It’s the incarceration of these children and not looking at what we could do for them in their own co communities.”

Lawmakers working to shut down New Hampshire’s troubled youth detention center on Tuesday heard differing views on whether to build a new facility or contract with a private company.

The state currently spends $13 million a year to run the 144-bed Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, although the typical population is currently around a dozen teenagers. The debate over his future began years ago, but it boiled over amid horrific allegations of sexual abuse. The June state budget called for the center to close by March 2023.

However, the Senate passed a bill last month that would extend the deadline, giving the state until June 30, 2024 to build a new facility. Now the debate has moved to the State House.

In a public hearing Tuesday before a House committee, supporters said that timeline was more realistic given the demands placed on the construction industry. They pointed out that a state-run facility would allow the Office of the Children’s Advocate, an independent monitoring agency, to maintain real-time access to children’s records and respond immediately to issues if necessary.

“Our impression is that a state-owned facility will provide the best return on investment and the most flexible use of that investment,” said Cassandra Sanchez, who served as the watchdog agency for 4 years. earlier this week.

The Senate bill has the support of the Juvenile Rights Policy Group, a coalition of nonprofit groups that advocate for vulnerable young people, and the Department of Health and Human Services. But opponents argued that contracting with an existing private facility could save money because the state would pay per child per day instead of maintaining its own fixed-cost facility. And they said private companies that specialize in treating these children could do a better job than the state, given its poor record on child safety.

The youth center, named after former Governor John H. Sununu, has been under criminal investigation since 2019 and 11 former workers were arrested in April. Lawmakers are also considering a $100 million fund to settle claims filed by nearly 450 former residents who sued the state with allegations involving more than 150 staff members from 1963 to 2018.

“Do we expect a few hundred million more dollars in lawsuits in five, 10, 20 years?” said former Rep. Neal Kurk, who opposed the bill passed the Senate and said it would create a “mini-Sununu center.”

“It’s the wrong approach,” he said. “The idea that we would pass the Senate bill suggests that we have learned nothing from history and that we want history to repeat itself.”

Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, agreed, saying the bill passed by the Senate focused too much on the building and not enough on the proper treatment of children.

“For me, it’s like we’re taking another step backwards,” she said. “It’s the incarceration of these children and not looking at what we could do for them in their own communities.”

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