WASHINGTON — A state review into the treatment of immigrant teenagers held at a Virginia detention center confirmed the facility uses restraint techniques that can include strapping children to chairs and placing mesh bags over their heads.

But investigators concluded the harsh treatment described by detainees at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center did not meet the state’s legal threshold of abuse or neglect, according to the findings issued Monday by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice.

The regulators did make several recommendations to improve conditions inside the facility, including hiring more bilingual staff, expanding “culturally relevant programming” and improving screening to provide care for detainees who suffer from mental health issues. The state also said administrators should consider new furniture and fresh paint to make the jail-like facility “more developmentally appropriate.”

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the review in June, hours after The Associated Press published first-person accounts by children as young as 14 who said they were handcuffed, shackled and beaten at the facility. They also described being stripped of their clothes and locked in solitary confinement, sometimes strapped to chairs with bags over their heads.

The state investigators said they were unable to interview the immigrant teenagers who made sworn statements saying they were severely abused. Those who made the initial complaints as part of a federal class-action lawsuit filed in November 2017 were subsequently transferred to other facilities or deported to their home countries after the resolution of their immigration cases.

Northam issued a statement applauding his administration’s “quick and comprehensive examination.”

“I take these allegations very seriously and directed members of my administration to immediately look into these claims of abuse and mistreatment,” he said. “The safety of every child being held there is of the utmost importance.”

The legal advocacy group representing the Latino teenagers suing the facility called the state’s review “deeply flawed” and said the investigators never contacted them or asked to speak to their clients.

“The children in this facility are denied necessary mental health care and subjected to abusive conditions,” said Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “We look forward to proving our case in court.”

The incidents described in sworn statements from six Latino teenagers included in the lawsuit are alleged to have occurred from 2015 to 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Though incarcerated in a facility similar to a prison, the children detained on administrative immigration charges have not been convicted of any crime. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement oversees the care of immigrant children held in federal custody.

Following the AP’s report in June, state investigators interviewed 22 federal detainees currently held at the Shenandoah facility. Of those, three said they had experienced abusive behavior by staff.

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