Virginia Officials Consider Reopening Closed Juvenile Detention Center

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columns-2Later this summer, officials in Richmond, Va., are considering reopening a juvenile detention center closed last year because of mismanagement, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The opening of the center hinges on whether Richmond’s Department of Juvenile Services (RDJS) can adhere to a set of 26 recommendations outlined in a City Audit Committee report last week. Among the city’s recommendations are the development of broader truancy programs, improved training for staff and better tracking of juvenile data regarding assessments and recidivism.

The Richmond Juvenile Detention Center was shuttered last April, amid reports of staff misconduct, training document forgeries and recordkeeping oversights. Virginia’s Board of Juvenile Justice had placed the facility on probation twice since 2009, before it was eventually closed in 2012.

The Audit Committee pinpoints unstable leadership as one of the major catalysts for the facility’s problems. “With leadership changes, relationships and trust with the existing stakeholders have to be rebuilt to maintain collaboration and open lines of communication,” reads their recently released report. “These changes may have caused unintended consequences in RDJS’ relationship with its major stakeholders and delivering of services to juveniles.”

The report also advises Richmond’s Department of Juvenile Justice to employ more evidence-based practices and implement “replicable clinical knowledge” to create new juvenile programs.

A state inspection of the facility is scheduled for later this month. Pending approvals, the facility would be allowed to re-open on July 1.

Photo by Tim Evanson, edited | Flickr

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