Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections

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BOISE — The director of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections has responded to a lawsuit from department employees to say that juveniles in state custody are safe.

Sharon Harrigfeld released the written statement Tuesday, saying that while government agencies don’t typically respond to lawsuits outside of court, she felt it was important to reassure the public that the department’s detention facilities are safe.

“I am confident that our staff and the procedures we have in place focus on the safety and protection of juveniles in our custody and ensure that when allegations of misconduct are brought forward they are investigated and appropriate action is taken,” Harrigfeld wrote.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court earlier this month by a group of employees who alleged that a detention facility in Nampa was rife with safety problems and that managers failed to properly address reports of juveniles having sex or of some staffers having sexual contact with jailed juveniles.

“This is a difficult time for the Department, especially for staff who do incredible and challenging work in the facilities to provide the best services to the juveniles committed to their care,” Harrigfeld wrote. “I believe in our programs and I believe in our staff.”

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