ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Investigations are underway into a program that refers troubled teens to interact with inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
This all comes after a couple of teen girls visited MDC over the weekend, claiming MDC officials allowed inmates to abuse them.
Some people might expect to see a lot of interesting behavior during a visit to the Metro Detention Center. But a local father says his daughter heard and felt a lot more than expected when she visited over the weekend.
“I was just outraged,” the girl’s father said. “I was livid.”
Martin Ridens says his 16-year-old daughter took a tour of MDC on Saturday morning.
As part of the Metro Teen Court program, she went along with a friend.
“She called me right away when they got done with the tour and let me know that she got hit and that other girls had gotten touched,” Ridens said. “She was very upset.”
Ridens says his daughter had her buttocks punched by one inmate and had her jumpsuit torn.
“My interpretation of it is if you're being purposely touched against your will, that's being molested,” he said.
He also says the girls were taken to a pod full of men, where he says the inmates called them names and made sexual gestures.
Ridens says guards simply stood by. The visit was the result of a referral from teen court.
The whole thing came as a shock to the Children, Youth and Families Department, which works with Metro Teen Court in cases involving teens charged with minor offenses.
“With this type of harsh setting, putting them through that, to us, wouldn't be an appropriate way to help these youth who are looking to get a second chance,” CFYD spokesman Henry Varela said. “We don't feel that’s appropriate for them.”
News 13 reached out to MDC and they sent us the following statement.
"We are attempting to coordinate our fact-finding efforts with those who are in charge of both the Metro Teen Court operation, as well as CYFD. So far, we have found nothing to substantiate the allegations, but when the investigation is complete, we will let the appropriate individuals know."
Ridens says he's meeting with a lawyer Thursday to see what kind of legal action he can take.
He says these kinds of programs can work, but rules and guidelines need to be followed.
News 13 was unable to make contact with Metro Teen Court officials. CYFD says they'll no longer send kids to Metro Teen Court while the department investigates.
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