By: Iaroslavna Serenko
Roy McMurtry Youth Centre jail in Brampton is a newest and most prominent facility for youth in Canada. Since its opening in 2009, the Ontario’s advocate for children and youth Irwin Elman received numerous amount of complaints that the centre is falling below the safety and care standards.
According to Elman, the situation in the centre is at its “tipping point” and is unstable. The facility’s “relationship custody” model which in theory should promote a positive relationship between youth and staff, and thus, contribute to overall safety of the centre’s environment, does not perform as expected.
The report titled It depends who’s working: The Youth Reality at RMYC prepared by the advocate’s office revealed that the staff stick to old-style correctional approach. Youth complains about the use of excessive force and assaults by guards; punishment by locking up in cells for a few days; and, even sometimes denial of access to medical care. In addition, there is a lack of rehabilitation and integration programs available at the centre.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services was hoping to improve the situation by hiring more staff with special training in “relationship custody”. It developed new gang intervention program and almost doubled the number of the community groups involved in youth rehabilitation. Along with this changes, the new policy was implemented that involves police investigation over every complaint of youth about violence or abuse at the centre. At this point, it is too early to assume if those measures worked.
Elman urges the ministry to take further action to part from the correctional methods used at the facility. The measures recommended by him are based on the collaborative approach. He proposes to include youth in the process of improving the operation of the centre, and to increase the participation of community groups in all the programs. In addition, Elman suggests to establish “a more transparent complaint process”.
In response to the above report, the ministry assured that it will review all recommendations.
The summary of a news article “Roy McMurtry Youth Centre not living up to its promise, says advocate” by Patty Winsa, News reporter, retrieved from The Toronto Star website (http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2013/08/07/roy_mcmurtry_youth_centre_not_living_up_to_its_promise_says_advocate.html)