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State Representative Requests Investigation of Oregon Youth AuthoritySalem-News.com
Oregon Republican Linda Flores says there are lingering questions about a cover-up by top level managers at the Oregon Youth Authority.
(SALEM, Ore.) - State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) says recent situations involving misconduct and mismanagement at the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) prompted her to call for a special outside investigation of the agency. "I sent a request to Governor Kulongoski today urging him to appoint someone who can look into these allegations," said Flores.
"There have been many troubling news reports about OYA in recent months and it’s high time someone higher up take action."
OYA Director Bob Jester resigned this week after the Department of Corrections conducted an investigation into the RiverBend Youth Transitional Program in La Grande.
Flores says earlier this month, an OYA parole supervisor from Clackamas County was arrested on allegations of attempted prostitution. And an Assistant Director at the agency was also recently forced to resign over accusations that he had an inappropriate romantic relationship with an employee.
"I appreciate the work OYA has done to clean up any wrongdoing," noted Flores, "but clearly there needs to be more oversight."
Flores says that as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she received a report from Jester at the Committee’s meeting last month which pointed out "the vast majority of OYA staff…produce outstanding results for youth offenders in our custody and the people of Oregon."
The investigation at RiverBend began over a year ago over allegations that former Director Darrin Humphreys stole state property, tampered with witnesses, and abused mileage and cell phone privileges. Humphreys was promoted to Superintendent at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility but resigned last spring.
Several staff at RiverBend were disciplined but there are lingering questions about a cover-up by top level managers, Flores said. She also says she is not the first legislator to call for a special investigation of OYA.
"State Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) had similar concerns a few years back when Michael Boyles, an OYA parole and probation officer, was convicted of sexually molesting several young men in state custody dating back over a decade."
Representative Flores says she sees a similarity to the situation in 1989 after Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Michael Francke was murdered.
"20-years ago the Governor set up an independent investigation into corruption in the state prison system," explained Flores.
"Expertise from the outside could now provide an objective review of what’s happened at OYA and recommend necessary reforms."
After the 1989 probe DOC established an Office of the Inspector General to handle suspected misconduct. The Legislature established the Professional Standards Office at OYA to address youth safety issues following the Boyles case. Anytime an agency head leaves their post the State Audits Division does a routine review and Flores acknowledged the efforts made so far to address problems at OYA. However, she still wants to see the Governor take action to hold the agency accountable. Flores said, "we want to assure taxpayers that government resources are not being used inappropriately."
Source: News release
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