The Oklahoman sat down recently with Keith Wilson, executive director of the state Office of Juvenile Affairs, the agency that oversees juvenile corrections. Wilson answered questions about the use of restraints in the agency’s two juvenile facilities following changes to the Terry D. v. Rader settlement agreement.
Q: What were some of the major changes brought by the settlement agreement in the Terry D. lawsuit?
A: There were some changes in the devices that can be used for restraints, primarily the blanket. It’s a lot safer to lay them (a juvenile) in the blanket and carry them that way. Fortunately we’re not having to use it too often.
Q: What about pepper spray?
A: It’s one of those things you do not want to use unless you have to use it. But there are times when it is safer to use it than to have physical combat. Our policy is you don’t use it unless you absolutely have to.
Q: But in most juvenile facilities, it’s not allowed at all.
A: That’s certainly true. But you have to first look at what young people they are getting in to those facilities. We only (use pepper spray) in our two medium-secure institutions. We call those medium secure, but the reality is, those are the only facilities we have. We don’t have a maximum.
Q: How about isolation?
A: Isolation is something you have to use from time to time. Our limit is three hours. We never put a kid in isolation for more than three hours without the supervision (of a mental health professional) unless it’s his normal bedtime. If it’s his normal bedtime, you can effectively put him to bed because they are all in isolation at bedtime.
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