RI Training School Head Out, As Facility Undergoes Review

Aug 1, 2017

The head of the Rhode Island Training School has stepped down in the wake of recent violence. 

Last week four workers at the facility were sent to the hospital after a fight broke out. The state has also announced a 60-day review of the juvenile correctional facility, in an effort to keep residents and staff safe.

The announcement came from the state Department of Children Youth and Families and the governor’s office. DCYF, not the Department of Corrections, manages the state’s training school.

J. Michael Downey is president of the local union representing Training School workers. The union has filed complaints against the training school, and Downey says the state needs to move quicker to protect staff.

“File grievances, file unfair labor practices. We’ve done all those things,” said Downey. “But there’s no time to wait for a grievance, before somebody is carried out in a body bag. We expect immediate action on this.”

Downey said staffers are worried for their safety.

“I’m hearing that they’re actually petrified to go to work, that they’re very, very nervous about their place of work,” said Downey. “That they’ll get injured that there will be another fight, or that someone will get killed in this training school. So while we welcome the changes they’ve made we know there’s certainly a long way to go.”

Downey says the union is pushing to get workers outfitted with tools like pepper spray or nightsticks. A state police captain has been placed at the training school for the next 90 days to provide additional security.