Dear Governor Sununu:
It is time to close the Sununu Youth Services Center for good. What has happened and continues to happen to NH youth is unacceptable and heartbreaking.
In 2018, prison staff abused a child with emotional disabilities by using unnecessary restraints that resulted in the child breaking their shoulder blade. The abuse continued, and in 2019, over 400 cases of child abuse were brought against the Sununu Youth Services Center. According to reports, from 1960 to 2018, over 100 staffers physically and sexually abused children.
As if the abuse was not sufficient evidence that the Sununu youth prison should be closed, the state wastes about 13 million dollars annually to fund the facility. This amounts to spending 23 times more to incarcerate a young person than to send them to school for a year.
We urge you to:
- Close Sununu Youth Services Center;
- Create a new model for small, community-based residential programs;
- Fund programs to divert youth from arrest, prosecution, and incarceration;
- Shut down the school-to-prison pipeline. An important way to end the school-to-prison pipeline is to end suspensions and expulsions, and create police-free schools
Now is the time, Governor Sununu, to begin building a youth justice system that makes investments in all of our kids. We urge you to exercise bold leadership in both closing the Sununu Youth Services Center and reforming New Hampshire’s juvenile justice system.