‘Disturbance’ at Sununu Youth Services Center was ‘challenging to control’

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Sununu Youth Center
Sununu Youth Center on River Road in Manchester. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

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CONCORD, NH – Officials say what happened at the Sununu Youth Services Center juvenile detention facility in Manchester Tuesday night wasn’t a riot, but “was initially challenging to control the incident.”

There were 13 youths in Tuesday night’s census and 15 staff on site at what was formerly called the Youth Development Center or YDC, according to Jake Leon, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services. It is a 144-bed facility.

He said State Police didn’t characterize it as a riot.

“However, there was an incident involving youths not complying with their evening responsibilities.

“Due to the needs of each youth, they were housed in several units to ensure the safety of residents and staff. With the staff spread out among each unit, it was initially challenging to control the incident,” Leon said.

Leon said staff worked quickly to ensure all youths were returned to their rooms and order was restored.

“In the aftermath, actions were taken immediately and throughout the night to assess and respond to any physical or mental health concerns of the youths. There does not appear to have been a need for outside intervention or hospital visits,” Leon said.

There will be follow-up steps “seeking opportunities for continuous improvement, including Commissioner Lori Shibinette and Joe Ribsam spending time at SYSC tomorrow to review the incident to determine if changes are necessary to ensure the safety of residents and staff,” he said.

Just after 8 p.m. Tuesday a radio broadcast from state police asked that “all available units respond to the Sununu Center in Manchester for a riot.” The Manchester police dispatch log shows Manchester police responding to a riot at 8:06 p.m., according to a story reported by Jeffrey Hastings.

The center is under scrutiny because of the hundreds of lawsuits filed against the state-run center by people who say they were physically and sexually abused there when they were juveniles.

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Nancy West


Nancy West is publisher of InDepthNH.org.