Guard, former resident raise safety concerns at Goshen juvenile detention center
Goshen Secure houses some of the most violent youth in the state. The juvenile detention center made headlines last month when a melee described by staff as a “takeover attempt” injured a guard and two residents and landed an 18-year-old resident in Orange County Jail.
“They all had handmade razors, weapons or whatever you call it, and they pulled them out demanding the keys so they could leave the unit,” says a guard who spoke to News 12 under the condition of anonymity. “We have murderers, attempted murderers. Youth in for assault, robbery.”
News 12 learned of another violent incident at the facility last Thursday involving several residents. The New York state Office of Children and Family Services oversees the facility. A representative says during that incident, staff intervened to prevent anyone from getting hurt.
Nathan Washington, of the Bronx, served three years at Goshen Secure for an armed robbery in Manhattan when he was 17 years old. Washington was released in 2010.
“Goshen was like Club Med,” said Washington. “Some of these kids are coming from Rikers Island and county jails. If you know about the culture of Rikers, you got people running around with knives and shanks and now at 8 p.m. you’re giving me a snack. You get snacks [at Goshen Secure} at the end of the day.”
The facility houses underage male offenders convicted of violent crimes up until the age of 21. Underage teens in the custody of Child Protective Services who are believed to need a secure, residential setting are also housed there and can remain in the facility until age 18.
Goshen Secure has a history of past incidents - including a fight in 2015 that reportedly injured eight people and an alleged “sex party” in 2009, that reportedly garnered public backlash by the New York State Commission of Corrections.
Guards are considered youth support specialists and receive just four weeks of training. Employees tell News 12 they’re understaffed and that conditions are dangerous for both employees and youth.
“There's no consequences. Staff have no type of protective equipment. We have one key and one radio,” says one guard. “Somebody is going to get hurt really bad if they don't do something now.”
Employees are represented by the CSEA. News 12 reached out to the facility’s union representative but did not get a response.
OCFS says safety is a top priority and that it’s working with its partners to address safety and staffing needs.
“OCFS’s constant focus is maintaining a secure environment for all youth in State-operated facilities and providing the comprehensive training and precautions needed to keep youth and staff safe,” says an OCFS spokesperson.
“People are coming in and they just don't come back,” says a guard. “I think the staff who've been sticking it out for a while are kind of fed up and they're reaching out for help because we don't have the support that we need.”