Kentucky's Juvenile Detention Center is not fit to house children
Tell Gov Bevin: It's Time to Clean House !
Last month the nation watched as a non-violent, 19-year-old Black girl was physically and verbally assaulted while being pushed out of a Donald Trump rally by white men in Kentucky. Local officials said and did nothing. It is pretty obvious how little the state cares about it’s Black girls. This same apathy and abuse is what took the life of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen who died while in isolation at Kentucky's Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center from a heart condition shortly after staff placed her in a martial arts Aikido restraint.1
Tell Governor Matt Bevin Black girls matter, Gynnya McMillen deserves justice, and he needs to fire Lincoln Village Detention Center Superintendent Michelle Grady and all staff under investigation for misconduct
After reviewing surveillance footage of Gynnya's stay at the detention center, the Kentucky Public Safety Commissioner admitted to an appalling level of falsified reports, failed supervision and “outright indifference” on the part of detention center staff. The investigation exposed a broken surveillance camera that failed to capture key footage of the martial arts hold that may have triggered Gynnya's death as well as the lack of vital training amongst staff.2 Even the facility's nurse admitted during a taped 911 call that she was unfamiliar with the center's required CPR protocol, causing a delay in potentially life-saving efforts.3
The detention staff’s negligence resembles how Kentucky systematically fails Black youth daily. In Kentucky, Black youth are more than 2.5 times as likely as white and Hispanic youth to be charged with a public offense and more than four times as likely to spend time in a juvenile detention facility.4 Several juvenile justice advocates have expressed alarm at the way Gynnya was treated and question why she was sent to a juvenile detention center and placed in solitary confinement instead of less traumatic options since it was her first offense.5
There are life-threatening systemic issues in the way Kentucky cares for Black children, and people must be held accountable for that. More than 10% of the Lincoln Village Detention Center Staff are now facing disciplinary results based on their actions during Gynnya's time there.6 Superintendent Michelle Grady is responsible for creating a culture of safety for youth in the detention center. There is no indication that she will be held responsible for staff failures that may have cost Gynnya her life.
Michelle Grady and all staff implicated in misconduct in the Gynnya McMillen investigation must go! Demand Governor Matt Bevin fire Grady and all staff involved NOW before another child is put in danger.
In peace and solidarity,
Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Enchanta and the rest of the ColorOfChange team
- "Gynnya McMillen Restrained in Detention Center Altercation Before Her Death, State Says," 01.29.2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6005?t=6&akid=5582.1942551.vLA40D
- "Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Department Press Conference: GynnyaMcMillen," WHAS11 ABC 03.16.2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6008?t=8&akid=5582.1942551.vLA40D
- "Audio: CPR started 11 minutes after staff found Gynnya McMillen," CBS News01.30.2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5802?t=10&akid=5582.1942551.vLA40D
- "Sen. Westerfield plans push for additional juvenile justice reform, synthetic drug legislation," CN|2 02.04.2016http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6059?t=12&akid=5582.1942551.vLA40D
- “Official: Detention staff used martial arts on Gynnya McMillen,” CBS News 1.29.2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5803?t=14&akid=5582.1942551.vLA40D
- See reference 2
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