Protestors gather outside Fairbanks Youth Facility

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:25 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A small group of protestors gathered at the corner of Wilbur Street and Airport Way speaking out against operations at the Fairbanks Youth Facility, a juvenile correctional facility in the Golden Heart City.

Holding signs for passing traffic, the group occupied the area from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13.

An email from protestor Eric Foster alleged mistreatment of youth in the facility, as well as poor working conditions for staff. Foster said he wants an independent investigation. “I think at this point they’re incapable of helping themselves. There’s so many issues, and because it’s not just my child. I’m speaking for a whole lot of parents that are frightened to come out here. We’re the first ones with the guts to do this because there’s issues of verbal reprisals. It gets back to the child, and it’s an unhealthy environment in there and there’s a lot of toxic things in there that need to be dealt with,” he said, adding, “They need to start treating kids like kids, not like pre-criminals. That’s the problem.”

On August 1, the Fairbanks Youth Facility temporarily combined its treatment and detention units due to a staff shortage. As of September 13, the facility houses 13 detention and 4 treatment youth in the combined facility. It is overseen by the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which is part of the Department of Family and Community Services (DFCS).

According to Brian Studstill, Communications Director for DFCS, youth at the facility can express grievances either verbally or in writing through grievance boxes. “The Division of Juvenile Justice works with the families of DJJ involved youth throughout the process including the treatment planning and regular progress reviews. Matter of fact, often times the success of the treatments that the youth are going through are critical to having the families involved.”

According to Studstill, the DJJ has a procedure for families and community members to report formal grievances, which can be found at the juvenile justice grievance procedure section of the Alaska State Legislature website.