Archive | Health

Tags: ,

Youth Service Officers: We are not Abusing Kids in Jail

By |

A state investigation that uncovered improper use of restraint and seclusion at Connecticut’s juvenile correction facilities left out one important element, front line staff members say: their voices.

“We cannot and will not be portrayed as the enemy or the abuser of the young people we are dedicated to helping and healing,” says Suzanne Borner, a teacher at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School for boys in Middletown.

“We ask you to remember that every story has another side, and a whole lot more context. Please hear ours,” said George Register, a youth service officer of eight years.

For example, consider  the story of Jennie.

A video of her being violently tackled from behind in a hallway was among those made public by the Office of the Child Advocate and became a centerpiece of the investigation‘s condemnation the juvenile facilities’ practices. Jennie had refused to return to her cell in the Pueblo Unit, the secure facility for girls.

“What people don’t realize is that back in July there was a huge riot where every single resident in the facility at the Pueblo Unit was involved. There were staff assaults. There were youth assaults. And there was mass destruction on an entire floor of the facility because the fire system was pulled,” said Sarah Levok, a youth service officer of 13 years. A fight involving four girls happened the night before the incident with Jennie.

“The staff that were still working were under the directive to make sure that they could keep the residents contained, but they still had to have some of their needs met where the kids would have to come out to use the bathroom,” said Levok.

And when Jennie was let out and refused to be locked up in her room again, staff decided they would physically escort her back into her room.

“She did have to get secure and get placed back to where she needed to be in order to keep the unit secure,” said Levok.

Jennie and a male youth service officer were injured in the incident. Last year, 160 staff were injured restraining youth at the state-run jails costing the state nearly $1 million in medical bills or lost time from work, reports the Department of Administrative Services.

The staff’s response to noncompliance of youth in their custody has been the center of debate among mental health experts and state legislators after the release of the Jennie video and seven others showing youth being violently restrained and dragged into seclusion.

Sarah Eagan, the state’s child advocate,  points to state law which only permits restraint or seclusion when there is an imminent risk of injury to the child in custody or others.


“That’s not really what happened here. What we had here was a youth standing in the common area and who didn’t want to go to her room which does not necessitate the type of intervention we see here,” she explained during a webinar when releasing the videos last month.

“The fact that they see restraint and seclusion as the only response to the fight the night before is telling,” she said Friday. “They didn’t even have a clinician present. Everyone is such a danger, but they didn’t have a clinician there to help.”

In her 68-page investigation, she documents dozens of stories of youths being restrained or put into solitary confinement for extended periods of time for not following orders.

Frontline staff members counter that they are unfairly being demonized, that the videos are being taken out of context and that they are just following the training they have received to deal with what they describe as a dangerous population.

“Many of our residents are the size of full-grown adults. They are big kids with developmental temperaments of teenagers and oftentimes toddlers. Whatever their history, their diagnosis, no matter how strong our relationships with them, each and every one of our youth at CJTS at any given moment can become aggressive and violent. Each and every one of them is inherently an  imminent risk to themselves and other residents and staff,” explained Peter Maylor, a youth service officer of nine years.

The primary crimes that result in incarceration for youths are mostly nonviolent offenses such as larceny or drug possession, according to the 2014 annual report of CJTS. The training school and Pueblo Unit house youth who commit crimes not serious enough to warrant handling them in the adult corrections system. Last year, 163 boys and girls under age 18 were incarcerated in adult prisons run by the Connecticut Department of Correction.

But several mental health experts said after reviewing the videos that the way the youth are handled might actually be contributing to the volatile environment.

Dr. Julian Ford, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center, said the videos “show adults using force and coercion in ways that worsen — or actually create — conflict by provoking and escalating youths’ stress reactions.”

Staff members say they are just using the training they have received.

“In order for YSOs to do their work safely and effectively, we need more support from our agency. We need training moments, not ‘Gotcha’ moments. We are striving to do the best we can,” said Register.

“You don’t hear about all the times that staff are talking to kids, building relationships. There are a 1,000 times a day things are deescalated as a result of relations,” said Paula Dillon, a teacher at CJTS.

Staff members explained to reporters last week at their union hall in New Britain what preceded the incidents on the videos and shared stories of the good work that takes place inside the facilities. The unionized mental health professionals that work at the correction centers did not attend the event and have not yet publicly spoken.

Surveillance videos from CJTS

With the release of the videos and the sudden changes that have been made by top officials at DCF and the public spotlight on them, they say it is hard for them to do their jobs.

“Right now our structure is compromised. Our safety is compromised and security is compromised and we are just doing our best to hold it together,” said Levok. “It is very difficult for our managers to know what to tell us. The direction that we are headed in and what to do a lot of the YSOs and staff in general are unclear what their role is. They’re doing their best to use the training.”

DCF officials have said they are working to train staff on trauma-informed best practices that refrain from using restraints and seclusion.

“The men and women working at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Pueblo Girls Unit have extremely demanding jobs,” said DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt “The quality of these programs depends on our staff, so it is the department’s responsibility to provide them with our fullest support… We are committed to reducing the use of restraints whenever possible because we are convinced that will be better for youth and safer for staff.  We thank our staff at these programs for the hard work and dedication that they bring every day as they care for these youth. We know how difficult their jobs are and will do everything possible to support the staff in helping the youth. This includes reducing physical interventions.”

Asked if any of the incidents on the videos on the tapes were problematic, staff members who met with reporters last week said no.

hose videos just portrayed us in that one moment. It just looks like people ganging up on kids and restraining them. It never goes like that. There is a great deal of counseling that goes on before anything happens physically with youth,” said James Core, a youth service officer of nine years.

Frontline staff described the hours of talking with youngsters about their problems and the “watch sheets” that show staff checking in on he children when they are in seclusion.

“There’s staff right outside the doors, watching and checking on them,” said Levok.

While she respects their perspective, Eagan said, her investigation revealed that the staff relies too heavily on restraint and closed-door seclusion as opposed to therapeutic interventions and that the agency was unwilling to investigate her concerns.

“These issues are not created by staff and are not unique to Connecticut, but rather can be found in juvenile prisons around the country,” she said. “The videos depict common protocols and procedures in the facility and the additional harms that come to youth and staff through depicted interventions.”

Kristy Ramsey, assistant superintendent of CJTS

In the case of Jennie’s handling, DCF officials have also concluded that their personnel acted improperly, though no staff members have been disciplined for their conduct. Jennie ultimately injured herself after the incident and was hospitalized.

“We recognized immediately that that was not the best way to handle that situation and that was the finding of our own internal review,” Kristy Ramsey, the assistant superintendent of the facility told state legislators two days after the release of the videos.

So far, the legislative hearings about CJTS  have included testimony from DCF officials and mental health experts. No hearings have taken place where the public has had a chance to testify, though top legislators have said they plan to hold one.

Posted in Business, Featured, Health, Nation/World, Politics, YouthComments Off on Youth Service Officers: We are not Abusing Kids in Jail


Group Celebrates Landmark Case: Griswold v CT

NEW HAVEN — In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Griswold v. CT, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will host a celebration of the landmark Supreme Court decision.

The event will be at the Long Wharf Theatre on Oct. 29, Stage II, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, Connecticut. It is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. with a special pre-event reception for sponsors that includes a meet-and-greet with guest speakers.

Officials said this event will honor the past, celebrate Estelle Griswold and the decision for which she fought so hard and look to the future of women’s health. The event will feature guest speakers Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General and Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author.

“The public health legacy of Griswold cannot be overstated. The case opened a pivotal door for the expansion of vital reproductive health services for women and their families,” said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Jonathan Eig and our very own Cecile Richards with us to offer their unique insights and opinions. This is sure to be a profound, entertaining and unforgettable evening for our supporters.”

On June 7, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Connecticut law of no birth control violated the constitutional right to marital privacy. The landmark court decision Griswold v. Connecticut provided the first constitutional protection for birth control and paved the way for the nearly unanimous acceptance of contraception that now exists in this country. The Griswold decision laid the foundation for the right to an abortion and was later used as evidence in Roe v. Wade.

Guests will have the unique opportunity to hear three prolific and profound champions of women’s health.

Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights. She leads a movement that has worked for nearly 100 years to build a healthier and safer world for women, men and young people.

Elders was the 15th U.S. Surgeon General, and the first African-American woman to hold that post. Elders remains committed to changing the way we think about health by putting prevention first. She has also stated that she wants “every child that’s born in the world to be planned and wanted.”

Eig is the New York Times best-selling author of The Birth of The Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, in which he chronicles the social and cultural history of “the pill” in the form of a gripping scientific suspense story.

This special event is open to the public. For more information, to become a sponsor or purchase tickets visit, call (203) 752-2813 or email Tickets – which are expected to sell out – can be purchased online and begin at $95.



Posted in HealthComments Off on Group Celebrates Landmark Case: Griswold v CT


Feds tell States to Stop Processing Food Stamp Benefits

WASHINGTON –The state’s 423,000 food stamp recipients could soon be early victims of Washington’s budget crisis.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed the Connecticut Department of Social Services and similar agencies in all of the states to not dispense any October benefits to food stamp recipients “until further notice.”

The USDA cites the threat of a federal government shutdown on Oct. 1 as the reason for holding up the benefits. Some $60 million in food aid could hang in the balance, one Connecticut official said.

“Considering the operational issues and constraints that exist in automated systems, and in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing States to hold their October issuance files and delay transmission to State electronic benefit transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice,” the USDA letter from Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe said.

The stopping of processing October’s benefits means recipients are likely to suffer a delay in benefits, even if Congress resolves the standoff over the federal budget in the next few days.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, a champion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP) the formal name for food stamps, said she spoke with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday and was told there is not enough money in a contingency fund to continue benefits past the end of the month.

“To hear of this impending disaster when we are preparing to hear from His Holiness Pope Francis, who has spoken so eloquently about hunger, is nothing short of a cruel joke,” DeLauro said. The Pope arrived in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

The last time the government shut down, in 2013, SNAP benefits continued because there was enough money left in a stimulus bill fund to keep the program running. This time that is not the case.

Congress is running out of time to approve a budget for fiscal year 2016 or even approve a short term funding bill, called a continuing resolution. The bill is stymied by the insistence of conservative Republicans that Planned Parenthood be defunded in the legislation.

“What kind of morality moves them?” DeLauro asked.

GOP lawmakers were prompted to defund Planned Parenthood after a series of undercover videos were released, showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing — sometimes in a cavalier manner — arrangements to provide fetal tissues to medical laboratories.

“Republicans in Congress are proposing to deprive people of food – literally. And they’re doing it over bogus videos,” said Devon Puglia, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel Malloy. “That Congress would shut down the government over bogus videos and in the process, deprive families in need of food is unbelievably alarming and unbelievably reckless.”

David Dearborn, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Social Services, said like many other states, Connecticut administers SNAP benefits through a federal account – not grants or a reimbursement program.

“If that federal account is actually frozen in October, about $60 million in food benefits would be withheld from Connecticut households and the food economy, ranging from supermarkets to farmers’ markets, throughout the state,” Dearborn said.

Lucy Nolan, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut!, a non-profit that helps Connecticut residents sign up for the food stamp program, said damage has been done already, even if there is no shutdown. That’s because it will take a few days for benefits distribution to resume and recipients, especially the elderly, are likely to drop off the program.

“If they go to shop and there’s nothing on their cards, they are going to think they’ve been cut off,” Nolan said.

She said she would try to warn recipients about the situation. “Meanwhile, I hope the food banks and food pantries are prepared,” Nolan said.

Posted in Business, Featured, Health, Nation/WorldComments (1)

Tags: ,

Plan Parenthood to Host Discussion

NEW HAVEN — Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by reaffirming its commitment to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities within the Latino and Hispanic communities.

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, PPSNE is partnering with New Haven León Sister City Project for a roundtable discussion entitled “Standing Up for Women’s Health & Women’s Lives” on Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at 345 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT.

“We believe all women and their families deserve the highest quality of care no matter who they are and where they live — no matter what. Our doors are open to everyone regardless of race, income, geography, citizenship status or gender identity,” said Kafi Rouse Director of Public Relations & Marketing with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “As the leading provider and advocate for sexual and reproductive health in Connecticut and Rhode Island, we know firsthand why it is important for the Latino community to have access to a comprehensive range of preventive health care services.”

The event will focus on strategies women are using to defend their health and their lives in New Haven and rural Nicaragua. This event is free and open to the public.

Political attempts to defund Planned Parenthood would threaten basic preventive health care services for more than 575,000 Latinos who rely on Planned Parenthood for care every year – including more than 12,000 in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Hispanics and Latinos face greater obstacles to obtaining, and benefiting from, sexual and reproductive health services than whites. As a result, they experience higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups of people in the U.S., for example:

  • Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group
  • Approximately 56 percent of pregnancies among Latinas are unintended
  • Latinos contract HIV at more than three times the rate of whites
  • Approximately 16 percent of Latinas have not visited a physician in the last two years, and one quarter do not have a regular health care provider

 For more information, email


Posted in Business, Health, Nation/WorldComments Off on Plan Parenthood to Host Discussion


Hartford Police Arrest James Street Stabbing Suspect

Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford Police arrested a local man for allegedly stabbing of a New Britain man on James Street early Thursday.

According to police, an unidentified man stabbed 55-year-old man on his arm after the two were in a fight at 69 James Street in Hartford.

Police arrived on the scene at 9:52 p.m.  and found an elderly man, who suffered a severe stab to his arm. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital. He died at 10:35 p.m.

Police officers also found a 67-year-old Hartford man who was bleeding from the head. He was transported to St. Francis, treated non-life-threatening injury, and released into police custody.

Police said the elderly 55-year-old man is the nephew of the 67-year-old man. The two live together at 69 James St. This entire incident occurred within their apartment, police said.

Allegedly, the two had been consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Both engaged in an argument that soon became physical. At some point, the suspect severely stabbed victim in the arm with a kitchen knife. The victim then was able to gain control of the knife and stab suspect. A witness then called police.

Posted in Business, Hartford, Health, NeighborhoodComments Off on Hartford Police Arrest James Street Stabbing Suspect

Tags: ,

Veteran Affairs to Host Dental Clinic, Medical Screenings

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

Veterans will have access to free medical help on Saturday in Rocky Hill Veterans Home.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will host the Stand Down program on its campus in Rocky Hill.The event will be from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Stand Down is a one-day resource and service fair where Connecticut Veterans have access to a full dental clinic, medical screenings to include cardiac and oncology, eye and hearing exams, and many other support services such as housing, employment, education, and legal assistance; all at no-cost to Veterans.  This year, there are more than 90 agencies and organizations participating in the event with close to 200 volunteers registered to assist.

Commissioner Connolly said, “Stand Down is the Department of Veterans’ Affairs signature event of the year for Veterans in Connecticut. I am so proud of the entire Department’s dedication, teamwork, and months of coordination and grateful for the many organizations that are providing their services and making Stand Down 2015 the best yet.”

Last year, more than 1,100 Veterans attended Stand Down with 70 agencies and companies providing information, donations, and services.

Posted in Business, Health, Neighborhood, WethersfieldComments Off on Veteran Affairs to Host Dental Clinic, Medical Screenings

President Obama to Visit Boston

WASHINGTON —  President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Boston on Monday to deliver remarks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast.

The Council is the regional arm of the AFL-CIO and includes 161 local unions representing about 90,000 members in 24 communities in the Boston area.

Obama is now visiting Alaska to address climate change.

The White House is expected to release more details about Obama’s trip in the next few days.





Posted in Business, Hartford, Health, PoliticsComments Off on President Obama to Visit Boston

State Officials Close 23 Nail Salons for Violations

WETHERSFIELD — After a surprised investigation into the employment practices of beauty shops, the Department of Labor closed 23 salons, including five in Hartford, state officials said.

The investigation, officials said, is in response to several complaints from nail salon employees and recent news articles about questionable health and employment practices at nail salons.

According to State Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer, as a result of these investigations the wage division recovered more than $47,350 in owed wages for the employees – primarily for required minimum wage payments – and expects to collect additional money for workers.

An additional $79,000 in civil penalties was levied and collected for under reporting payroll and paying employees in cash and $21,300 for wage and hour violations.

Unannounced visits to the salons on Aug. 3 resulted in Stop Work orders being placed on the following establishments:

  • Hartford: La Nails, American Nails, Modern Nails, Pink Nails, Touch Nails
  • New Haven: Magic Nail and Spa, Fashion Nail and Spa, Outo Nails
  • Stamford: Fiji Nail Salon, Cozy Nail Salon, Classic Nails, Lux Nails, Ace Nails
  • Branford: Oasis Nails, Pretty Nail and Spa, Sera Nail Salon, Town Nails, Simply Nails
  • Westport/Darien/Southport: Posh Nail and Spa LLC (3 locations), Queen Nail and Spa, Finger Nails


According to Gary Pechie, Director of the Wage and Workplace Standards Division, labor agents and investigators determined that workers were being paid in cash with no payroll records, wages were below the minimum wage of $9.15 per hour, and no overtime payment was being provided.

Officials said all 23 salons are now in compliance with state workplace laws and have been allowed to resume operations.



Posted in Business, Health, NeighborhoodComments Off on State Officials Close 23 Nail Salons for Violations


Hartford Receives Federal Grant for Teen Pregnancy

HARTFORD — Despite a 20 percent decline in teen births over the past five years, Hartford still has a teen birth rate that is higher than the national average.

Thanks to a new grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, Hartford will have financial support for a new teen pregnancy prevention program. The $4,999,995 five-year grant will support a replicated evidence-based program in Hartford within the Hartford Health and Human Services Department.

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced on Tuesday that Hartford is one of 50 cities across the country to be awarded a grant under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health  Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Despite a 20 percent decline in teen births over the past five years, Hartford still has a teen birth rate that is higher than the national average. The grant will focus heavily on a partnership with Hartford Public Schools, local service providers and clinics, city official said.

The funding will also focus on implementing programs in schools, clinics, and community-based settings to allow adolescents and teenagers to receive multiple medically accurate, age appropriate, evidence-based services during their adolescence. Vulnerable youth, such as those in foster care, juvenile detention, expectant and parenting teens, and older youth will be served through this initiative.

“The City of Hartford Department of Health and Human Services has played an active and successful role in Teen Pregnancy Prevention since 2010,”  said Mayor Segarra. “This funding, and partnership with key agencies, will help Hartford to continue providing the level of expertise and services to youth and those most in need throughout the city.”

The U.S. HHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence –Based Initiative provides an opportunity for a broad range of programs to have a lasting impact on reducing teen pregnancy, HIV and STI’s among middle school and high school youth across the nation. For a list of all grant winners visit U.S. HHS Office of Adolescent Health 2015 Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Grants.


For questions regarding this initiative or other teen pregnancy prevention questions, please contact Carmen Chaparro at or visit

Posted in Hartford, Health, YouthComments Off on Hartford Receives Federal Grant for Teen Pregnancy

Tags: ,

Obama Tackles Climate Change in Graduation Speech at U.S. Coast Guard Academy

By Ann-Marie Adams, White House Correspondent

NEW LONDON — In his commencement speech at the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the issue of climate change, saying there has been too much equivocation in Congress about a dramatic change to the climate, which has implications for national security.

Obama called on Congress to direct attention to proposals that have already engendered much debate.
“I know there are some folks back in Washington, who refuse to admit that climate change is real,” he said to more than 200 graduating cadets. “Denying it or refusing to deal with it undermines our national security.”

Obama also catalogued the impact of climate change, emphasizing the issue at the core of each cadet’s mission, whether it’s cleaning up ravaged coastlines or intercepting drug traffickers from Latin America, the Caribbean or Europe. The newly commissioned ensigns will, he said, will soon be working with refugees from flooded and drought stricken countries, helping to open oil drilling plants and dealing with weather related disasters.

The location for his address about climate change was fittingly in one of Connecticut’s coastal communities, where Super Storm Sandy devastated the New England coast in 2012, causing $394.3 million in damages.

Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states on the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine.
“The science is indisputable,” Obama said. “The planet is getting warmer….The world’s glaciers are melting.”

Last year, the president also outlined a series of plans he has pushed to restrict carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, promote “clean energy” production such as wind and solar projects and increase federal protection of public lands, saying climate change is a threat to homeland security. As a result, he recently announced the country’s intention to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to cut carbon pollution and strengthen developing countries’ resilience.

Obama is scheduled to travel to Paris in December for a Climate Summit to discuss a global accord limiting greenhouse gases. The U.S. has already committed to reduce carbon emissions by 2025.

Posted in Business, Featured, Health, Nation/WorldComments Off on Obama Tackles Climate Change in Graduation Speech at U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Advertise Here

Like Our Facebook Page

Sound Off Hartford!

Join Us On Twitter

Email Us: editor