2016 Barbara Allen-Hagen Finalist Spotlight: Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center

Posted by Patricia Rafferty
July 19, 2016

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is pleased to announce Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center (BJDC) in Bridgeport, CT as one of the finalists for the 2016 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the detention category. The program was selected as a finalist for their improvement plan addressing the issues of isolation, room confinement and segregation.

After a population and catchment area expansion, BJDC noticed an increase in room confinement and was challenged by the Deputy Director of Juvenile Residential Services to implement changes to reduce the facility’s use of isolation and room confinement. After reviewing the data, BJDC noted that improving gender-specific treatment and changing the focus of facility programming would have a significant impact. Changing the message to youth became a top priority. BJDC recognized early in the change process that staff buy-in would be critical to success. The administration sought out staff members to form two committees, one to tackle reducing behavior escalation in female youth by looking at national research and best practices and the other to research restorative justice principles to better inform and educate youth about the value of being socially responsible for their actions. This committee work laid the foundation for ongoing staff training, external conferences, monthly internal reviews and a 360-degree feedback process.

Verdell Reid, PbS Site Coordinator of BJDC, believes that “creating a multi-disciplinary team with representatives from all departments was an important key to success” and further, that “the greatest part of [BJDC’s] success in achieving the goals of the improvement plan was the input from the staff.” Judges praised the inclusivity of BJDC’s efforts, saying that allowing “staff to lead the restorative justice initiative was very smart, [and] will lead to sustainability of the initiative.” Citing the difficulty of the task, one judge remarked that BJDC’s ongoing progress “sets a great example for facilities across the US that think [reducing isolation] can’t be done. Clearly it can be done.”

The Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara Allen-Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Her dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young offenders has helped drive PbS to its current success. The award is given to a correction, detention/assessment and community program who best exemplify PbS’ commitment to treating all youths in custody as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans to change practices that results in positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

Winners of the award will be announced the night of the ceremony on Aug. 5, 2016. Stay tuned for more blogs about the 2016 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award.

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Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center

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Staff showing PbS pride

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Words of hope