A half-dozen immigrant teenagers have given sworn statements alleging mistreatment and abuse at the hands of staff members at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia.
The Associated Press reports that the teens, most of whom were caught crossing the Southern American border unaccompanied, say they were beaten while handcuffed, locked in solitary confinement for extended periods, and regularly forced to sleep naked inside cold concrete cells.
“Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” one Honduran teen said in a sworn statement. “Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move… They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.”
In addition to the sworn testimony of the teenagers, a former child-development specialist who worked at the detention center tells the AP that she personally witnessed children with bruises and broken bones — and she said they were a direct result of mistreatment by the center’s guards.
The Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center has formally denied all allegations of physically abusing the young detainees.