The secretary of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (DCR), Eduardo Rivera Juanatey, expressed satisfaction after the resolution of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico that ruled in favor of the agency, which may continue with the hiring process to offer the services of mental health in juvenile offender centers under the custody of the Bureau of Juvenile Institutions (NIJ).
“The Supreme Court validated our legal processes and demonstrated the inadmissibility of the stoppage decreed that has prevented us from hiring these essential services for months, which in turn has been the main cause that led the Federal Court to form a panel of judges to the case of juveniles, ”said Rivera Juanatey.
“We are confident that with this determination we will soon begin to see positive results for the benefit of institutionalized youth,” he added.
Last Tuesday the highest judicial forum on the island ruled in favor of the DCR, which was sued by the Professional Consulting Psychoeducational Services (PCPS) company, which challenged the hiring of the Physician Correctional company without holding an auction.
“We resolve that the hiring of professional services does not require a formal or informal auction. Therefore, the Department (of Correction and Rehabilitation) was not obliged to issue substantiated notification regarding the award of the mental health professional services contract ”, reads the judgment of the local Supreme Court.
It states that, consequently, the appeal for judicial review was inadmissible in law and that it was dismissed.
The challenge to the contract was for a time before the state courts, which affected the compliance of the DCR with the case presented in 1994 by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice against the Bureau of Juvenile Institutions (NIJ). This process is chaired by federal judge Gustavo Gelpí.
The PCPS complaint caused the process of hiring a new company to provide mental health services to admitted youth to be halted.
PCPS went to the Court of Appeals, a forum that granted the company’s request to halt the contracting procedures of the Physician Correctional company.
Subsequently, the DCR presented its argument and maintained that it was not required to make a notification that met the requirements on the award of the auction or the bidding requirement.
On November 16, the Appeals Court dismissed the appeal filed by PCPS after concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear it.
“Resolving otherwise is not only in contravention of what is established in our legal system, but it would also delay the department’s compliance with the provisions of United States v. Puerto Rico, Civ. No. 94-2080, and worse still, it would be to the detriment of the duty to adequately preserve the lives of confined youth, lives that, if lost due to a wrong interpretation, would be an irreversible tragedy, ”states the judgment of the highest judicial forum on the island.
The NIJ informed Judge Gelpí that between July and December 15, 63 incidents of suicidal behavior or self-mutilation have been reported among the 100 admitted.
Given the non-compliance of the DCR in the provision of services, Judge Gelpí requested the appointment, by the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit of Boston, of a panel of three judges to determine whether or not to release one or more young people .
The panel is made up of Gelpí, Boston Circuit Judge David Barron and Puerto Rico District Judge Francisco Besosa.
The panel has a status hearing on this case on January 11.
THE SPOKESMAN He tried to elicit a reaction from PCPS, but the efforts were unsuccessful.