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Oregon Youth Authority Warden Gives Agency a Black Eye

A “rising star” at the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) pleaded guilty to six criminal offenses and was sentenced to four months in jail, probation and 160 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $11,500 in restitution. He gave OYA “a black eye that is going to be difficult to repair,” remarked Union County District Attorney Timothy Thompson.

Darrin N. Humphreys, 44, joined Oregon’s juvenile corrections system in 1987. He was later appointed Director of the RiverBend Youth Transitional Program, a 50-bed facility for offenders age 12-25 transitioning back into the community.

In 2007, Humphreys became the superintendent of the 300-bed MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Oregon’s largest juvenile prison. He resigned several months later, however, when the Oregon State Police began investigating claims that he stole construction materials and state property while employed at RiverBend.

Investigators found that Humphreys had claimed over $12,000 in false mileage reimbursements, re-roofed his house with state materials, took kickbacks from a contractor, and used juvenile offenders to build kitchen cabinets. He faced 26 charges, including theft, official misconduct, tampering with public records, tampering with a witness and menacing. Hum-phreys’ abrupt downfall also brought down OYA Director Robert Jester and Deputy Directors Phil Lemman and Brian Florip, who resigned. [See: PLN, Jan. 2009, p.18]. Jester had called Humphreys “sociopathic.”

Humphreys pleaded guilty to three felony and three misdemeanor offenses. At his October 19, 2009 sentencing hear-ing, Humphreys’ attorney, Janie Burcart, portrayed him as the victim of an out-of-control system. She claimed he had been caught up in a management atmosphere of 80-hour work weeks, stress and corruption. “Much of the culture of the Oregon Youth Authority was massive drinking,” Burcart said. “They would drink and drink and drink. That is no way to run an agency.”

Retired RiverBend employee Kenneth Hagerman said OYA was dominated by an “old-boy network” and Humphreys had to play politics. “I would hate to see him serve as a whipping boy for the whole OYA,” agreed former MacLaren em-ployee Elray Sampson.

Yet the assessment of Thompson, the prosecutor, seems closer to the truth: “He used Oregon Youth Authority facili-ties and resources as his own personal fiefdom ... for his own benefit.” Humphreys’ behavior was “the epitome of criminal thinking errors” that he was supposed to correct in juvenile offenders, Thompson added.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Morgan accused Humphreys of being “disingenuous” in claiming that he “forgot” to repay the state for roofing materials and for seeking mileage reimbursements for driving a state-owned vehicle to distant meet-ings.

Source: The Oregonian

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