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Detention Facility Fallout

Director resigns, 72 city employees out of work after juvenile center shuts down.

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The city had to shut the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center down to save it. In the tumult, the city’s Department of Justice Services Director Charles Kehoe has tendered his resignation. That was the gist of a press conference Friday afternoon at City Hall.

The move comes a day after Mayor Dwight Jones announced that the city had surrendered a state-issued license to run the juvenile detention center. New allegations, potentially criminal in nature, regarding the facility are what led to the move.

Flanked on either side by Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall and Dr. Carolyn Graham, the deputy chief administrative officer for health and human services, Jones glumly fielded questions gone unanswered since Marshall’s surprise announcement before City Council Thursday afternoon.

An internal investigation of the allegations is ongoing, Jones said, declining to go into detail. Meanwhile, a handful of the facility’s 18-year-old residents will be transferred to the juvenile wing of Richmond City Jail. The remainder of the center’s 48 juvenile residents will be bussed to facilities in Chesterfield County for processing. From there, they will be transferred to juvenile detention centers around the region.

The facility, Jones said, will be closed for a year while the city conducts a top to bottom review of its juvenile justice programs. Whether the center will actually reopen is unclear. “We’re working through what the facility needs to look like, how it ought to be run, and even if we should have a facility,” Marshall said. Some 72 city employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closing.

The dramatic closing of the detention center has been long in coming. In January, the Virginia State Board of Juvenile Justice placed the facility on probation amid findings that safety issues persisted at the facility. Former superintendent Diane Gadow was fired in the immediate aftermath.

Kehoe, whose department oversees the center’s operations, has acted as interim superintendent since then. David Hicks, the mayor’s senior policy advisor, will serve as interim director of justice services until the city finds a replacement.

While he accepted Kehoe’s resignation, Jones indicated that more resignations could follow. Kehoe’s resignation should in no way indicate, Jones said, that “blame for poor management in the operation of the facility lay only at Kehoe’s feet.”

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