MJTC: the Employee (part 7)


This is part seven in a series on the Juvenile Treatment Center, located just outside Mansfield. Throughout this series we will take an in-depth look into the program, find out what life is like for the offenders, workers and the impact it has on the area.

In this installment we will look at the impact the state takeover has had on the employees and what the future holds.

See part 1

See part 2

-See part 3

-See part 4

-See part 5

-See part 6

After the state takeover in 2016, former MJTC employee, Dana Adkins described the situation “as a powder keg ready to explode.” She and other long time employees dubbed the MJTC as top in the state at one time. However, she stated that over the past few years, it’s been in a “steady decline.”

So, what changes has the state implemented that has created this hardship? State Senator Terry Rice said the bureaucratic red tape is to blame. “Staff should be given what they need...” Rice has also been made aware of MJTC employees being forced to pay out of pocket for items such as toilet paper and gasoline. “I’m frustrated that they cannot get things done that need to be done,” he added. “Things like medical and dental decisions…there’s no reason why they have to be taken to Little Rock when we have local clinics who can take care of those needs.”

Currently, there are only two directors statewide that remain in those positions following the takeover. One of those is Mansfield Director, Mark Barton. Undoubtedly, Barton is the cornerstone of the facility and has seen great success within the program in the past.

The state classifies Barton and the other employees at the facility as “extra help.” Meaning that although they work for the state, they do not get the same benefits. “It’s demeaning,” said one former employee. “We have no grievance pathway… In July state employees got a raise, but ‘extra help’ did not.”

Low morale, burnout and low pay have led to a high turnover at the facility. “It’s a thankless job,” added the former longtime employee. “The state should be asking how they can help…It’s high mental stress dealing with these kids 12 hours a day .” 

-Salary schedule for MJTC employees

-Salary schedule for DHS Senior Executives

Rice concluded, “we need professionals who can run the facility.” Currently, the state is accepting bids to contract the residential treatment facilities at Mansfield, Harrisburg, Dermott and Lewisville.

In the next and final installment, we will look at those proposed changes and benefits of privatization.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Mansfield native, with roots in Scott County. Daughter, sister, wife and Christian. Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; 20+ years experience in the news.

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