Officials eye new close date for New Hampshire youth center

Sep 15, 2022, 11:59 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2022, 12:00 pm

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire lawmaker on Friday proposed extending the March deadline to close the state’s troubled youth detention center amid concerns that the current timeline would endanger public safety.

Debate over the future of the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester began years ago, but has come to a boil amid horrific sexual abuse allegations. Frustrated with spending $13 million a year to operate a 144-bed facility for about a dozen teens, lawmakers set a mandatory March 1 closing date. But the center’s fate remains unclear after lawmakers were unable to agree this year on how to replace it.

Rep. Jess Edwards, R-Auburn, said Friday he plans to introduce two bills for the legislative session that starts in January: one to extend the deadline by three months and another that calls for a new 12 to 14 bed facility, with room for 18 if necessary. He told Deputy Health Commissioner Lori Weaver that he is concerned about what will happen March 1 without such measures.

“The Legislature let you down,” he said. “We just could not reach agreement so we gave you nothing to go on in terms of money to plan and design it.”

Weaver said she can’t predict the center’s population six months in advance, but based on the current situation, “there would be a definite impact on public safety” if the deadline arrived without further guidance.

“If that was to happen today, I could tell you that there would be public risk for some of these youth to be placed in situations that would be not only unsafe for them, but potentially for the community as well,” she said Friday at a meeting of the Health and Human Services Oversight Committee.

The youth center, named for former Gov. John H. Sununu, has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019, and 11 former workers were arrested last year. The state recently set up a $100 million fund to settle claims brought by nearly 450 former residents who have sued the state with abuse allegations involving more than 150 staffers from 1963 to 2018.

In recent weeks, police responded to the facility several times to help staff deal with disturbances. Weaver told lawmakers the incidents weren’t unusual, but serious understaffing coupled with “the toughest kids” created a “perfect storm” that required outside help. Lawmakers recently approved salary enhancements for staff, but recruiting remains a challenge given the looming closure date, she said.

“I think there’s a lot of people that want to come and help and work,” she said, adding that the closure date is “overshadowing the facility for sure.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

1 day ago

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, ...

Associated Press

US, Europe working on voluntary AI code of conduct as calls grow for regulation

The United States and Europe are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for artificial intelligence as the developing technology triggers warnings

1 day ago

FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

2 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

2 days ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

3 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Officials eye new close date for New Hampshire youth center