At New Mexico’s biggest jail for children, toilets and staff are lacking — but strip searches are common.


The décor inside the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center (YSC) is more in line with the children’s wing of your local library than a jail built for kids. The walls and furniture are painted in bright colors and classrooms line a hallway just a short walk from a common room filled with therapeutic rocking chairs. Out back, the children — strictly referred to as “residents,” never inmates — are encouraged to tend a communal garden or navigate a multi-story rope obstacle course — the tallest of its kind in all New Mexico, according to the county.

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