Mom: Son told to ‘drink own spit’ at Richmond Juvenile Detention Center

Posted at 1:57 PM, Jan 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-17 14:18:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – A woman whose son is locked up in the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center said she believes her son is being mistreated a day after the state put the center on probation.

Felicia Fitzgerald told CBS 6 News' Sandra Jones that one staff member told her son to drink his own spit after the boy asked if he could have a drink of water.

Additionally, Fitzgerald claimed her son tried to commit suicide – and that she only found out about the incident via a court document two weeks later.

"I feel like it's just a job to them," said Fitzgerald. "They just basically need some new people in that center that really care."

Staffing issues were one of several issues raised in an eight-page state report on the facility.

The NAACP first blew the whistle on the problems, including broken locks and malfunctioning doors, late last year.

The group's findings prompted other agencies to get involved.

As a result, the state placed the center on probation and  the center could lose its certification. That means the state could take further action and possibly shutter the facility since this is the second time the center has been on probation over the last three years.

"Why didn't anybody notice?  Why did it have to be brought to our attention by the NAACP?" said Richmond City Council President Kathy Graziano. "We have to figure out how to get the funding to fix it.  If we have to take it from somewhere else, we’re going to have to take it."

Richmond City Councilmember Marty Jewell agreed, but said he believed both the city administration and council members need to share the blame.

"Their problems is management… and to continue to cover it up and to be in denial is astonishing to me," said Jewell.

The State Board of Juvenile Justice gave the city administration until April to fix the problems  at the detention center. The board will ultimately decide whether or not the facility remains on probation.

Additionally, city administrators awarded an emergency contract to replace the broken locks, malfunctioning doors and intercom systems.