Changes made at Charleston youth center after inmate suffers broken jaw, official says

Roger and Roxanne Ewer of Charleston talk July 24, 2013, about their grandson, who was beaten by inmates at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston and suffered a broken jaw.
Roger and Roxanne Ewer of Charleston talk July 24, 2013, about their grandson, who was beaten by inmates at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston and suffered a broken jaw.
Posted Sept. 23, 2013, at 4:57 p.m.

CHARLESTON, Maine — The superintendent of the Mountain View Youth Development Center said inmates at the juvenile correctional facility will be more closely monitored after a 16-year-old inmate suffered a broken jaw during what the teen called an “initiation” fight two months ago.

“We no longer allow residents in the Pod area unsupervised,” superintendent Jeffrey Morin wrote in an email on Monday, summarizing changes made at the facility in the wake of the July 21 incident. “Residents are either out in the day area under staff supervision, or they are in their rooms or other areas in the facility.”

Inmate Dylan Ewer told his grandparents, who adopted him at age 5, about being involved in the fights shortly after arriving at Mountain View in May. Roxanne Ewer, the boy’s grandmother and legal guardian, said she informed Mountain View staff on three separate occasions about what Dylan had said, including on the day he suffered the broken jaw at the hands of another inmate.

“They call it a beat down,” Roger Ewer said in July, describing the incident that led to his adopted son’s injury as something similar to a fight club that pits young inmates against each other. “Dylan called it an initiation,” he said later.

Dylan Ewer was in the Mountain View medical unit for nearly two months recovering from the injury, his grandmother said.

“He just went back to the general population last week,” Roxanne Ewer said Monday. “He just got the wires removed” that were put into place on July 24 during surgery to fix his broken jaw.

The couple said they met with Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte on Aug. 9 and, so far, have been pleased with the changes put into place at the juvenile corrections facility. A call to Ponte Monday was forwarded to Scott Fish, Maine Department of Corrections director of special projects. Fish confirmed that Ponte met with the Ewers, but did not release details of the meeting.

“Ever since [the fight] happened, the kids they consider high risk are going into the day room where they are watched by a guard,” Roxanne Ewer said.

Two juvenile inmates, one who hit Ewer and one who facilitated the fight, initially were separated from the rest of their pod or unit but neither are going to be criminally charged, Roxanne Ewer said.

“We’re still pursuing it with the lawyer,” she said.

Their son was seen on video, on one of 72 cameras in the facility, getting up and going with the boy who reportedly hit him out of camera view, the Charleston couple said. For that reason, the boys and her son will not face any charges, she said.

The commissioner explained to them that the juveniles involved knew the guard schedules and where the cameras are in the facility.

“Once a guard checked on them, they knew they had a 10-minute window [when guards weren’t watching],” Ponte told them, Roxanne Ewer said. “He said some of the guards were neglectful” and have been reprimanded in some way, but he would not provide details, according to Ewer.

The youth correctional facility in Charleston houses up to 133 detained and committed juveniles and young adults ages 11 to 21, according to its website. It has a staff of 171 employees.

Fish confirmed in July that an investigation of the incident involving Ewer was underway, but said Monday that he could not comment or provide any other details about the incident, including whether any staff were reprimanded.

The couple is allowed to visit twice weekly and spent part of Sunday with Dylan, who is serving time for burglary and three car thefts associated with a two-week crime spree last summer.

“He said he’s doing good,” his grandmother said. “He’s got A’s and B’s so he’s doing a good job in school and he’s getting his GED, so that’s great. He’s also starting to think about things.”

Roxanne Ewer also said that the boy who broke Dylan’s jaw asked how he was doing, which she takes as a sign everyone involved learned from the experience.

“He did show concern,” she said. “I know how angry and hurt these kids are. They strike out at each other. I’m hoping they, not just him but Dylan also, learned this is a serious situation.”

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