Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center

Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center

The Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center is the residential component of the Erie County Office of Children and Youth and consists of two short-term therapeutic residential programs: secure juvenile detention and dependent shelter. The center is entrusted to provide care for court-ordered children awaiting adjudication and/or disposition. The Court of Common Pleas and its agent are the only individuals authorized to detain children.

Secure Juvenile Detention

The Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center has been providing secure residential services to at-risk youth in Erie County since 1973. The goal of the secure detention program is to act in concert with the balanced and restorative justice approach by providing community protection, accountability and competency development. To accomplish this goal, the center provides a variety of services to children who are court-ordered to secure detention.

  • The center has a certified school staff by the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit where students earn academic credit while in residence.  The center also conducts a summer school program funded by Title One to help students improve math and reading scores.  School attendance is mandatory for all residents who do not have a high school diploma.
  • The center is licensed by the state under the 3800 Regulations and is audited and inspected annually.
  • All children receive a complete health-care screening and physical, including dental and eye care, from the medical department.
  • Upon admission, all residents receive a handbook that details daily expectations, client rights, grievance procedure,  consequence for noncompliance and a visitation policy.

About the Prison Rape Elimination Act

The federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, was signed into law in 2003. Its purpose is to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in federal, state, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” The act also created the National Prison Rape elimination commission and charged it with developing standards for the elimination of prison rape. The National PREA Resource Center contains a copy of the standards as well as more resources regarding PREA implementation.

The Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment against any resident in its custody. Sexual contact of any nature, regardless of age or consensual status, with center residents is considered abuse.

The Center and PREA

The Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center protects its residents from sexual abuse or harassment of any form by ensuring complete compliance with PREA and its juvenile standards.

All forms of sexual abuse/harassment of center residents is expressly prohibited, whether it be by another resident, staff member, contractor, volunteer or visitor. All allegations of sexual misconduct, abuse and/or harassment will be taken seriously and will be investigated, both internally and externally, to the fullest extent possible. All such incidents shall also be reported to law enforcement authorities and the Office of Children and Youth in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and this policy.

Violation of this policy is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Additionally, retaliation against any youth or staff who reports or assists in the investigation of alleged sexual misconduct is prohibited and is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Sexual Abuse Investigatory Protocols

The Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center does not investigate sexual abuse allegations internally to conduct legal proceedings. The center utilizes the Millcreek Township Police Department to perform sexual abuse investigatory services when necessary. A memorandum of understanding exists between the center and the Millcreek Township Police Department.

The center will ensure that all allegations of sexual abuse and harassment will be investigated internally (noncriminal investigations) and externally (criminal investigations). Criminal investigations will be conducted by the Millcreek Township Police Department after referral by Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center administration.

The center offers all residents of sexual abuse 24-hour access, pending security issues, to victim advocacy with the Crime Victim Center of Erie County. The center and the Crime Victim Center have a memorandum of understanding detailing the protocol for usage.

The center offers all residents who experience sexual abuse free access to forensic medical exams, where evidentiary or medically appropriate, and free access to necessary medical and mental health services.

Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Reports of sexual misconduct, including third-party reports, may be sent anonymously to:

Erie County Sheriff’s Office
140 West Sixth Street
Room 400
Erie, PA 16501
Telephone: 814-451-6254

Gerald T. Battle, Director
Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center
4728 Lake Pleasant Road
Erie, PA 16504
Telephone: 814-451-6191
Fax: 814-451-6192
Email: gbattle@eriecountypa.gov

Meko Gray, Shelter Director
Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center
4718 Lake Pleasant Road
Erie, PA 16504
Telephone: 814-451-7040
Fax: 814-451-7038
Email: tgray@eriecountypa.gov

Julian Blanks, Program Director and PREA Manager
Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center
4728 Lake Pleasant Road
Erie, PA 16504
Telephone: 814-451-6191
Email: jblanks@eriecountypa.gov

Reports of suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual harassment or severe neglect may also be reported by telephone or mail to:

Erie County Department of Human Services
154 West Ninth Street
Erie, PA 16501-1303
Telephone: 814-451-6600 or toll free: 800-352-0026 (ext. 6660)
For emergencies after hours or weekends and holidays: 814-451-1503
Pennsylvania Childline (24 hours a day): 800-932-0313
Fax: 814-451-6555

Reports of a criminal nature may also be submitted by phone, online or by mail\ to the following outside agency sources:

Millcreek Township Police Department
3608 West 26 Street
Erie, PA 16506
Telephone: 814-833-7777
Submit a crime tip online

Erie County Sheriff’s Office
140 West Sixth Street
Room 400
Erie, PA 16501
Telephone: 814-451-6254

Annual PREA Reports

Any information regarding or pertinent to audits may be reported to auditor Maureen Raquet at:

Raquet Justice Consultants LLC
PO Box 274
Saint Peters, PA 19470

Non-Discrimination Policy

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (BOO) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

  • Postal mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410
  • Fax: (202) 690-7442
  • Email:  program.intake@usda.gov

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.