Mayor Dwight Jones is closing the city's juvenile detention center after "grave deliberation," placing its administrators on leave and relocating the juvenile offenders housed there to other facilities throughout the city.
The decision comes after the Virginia State Board of Juvenile Justice placed the detention center probation in January.
Last year, inspections by the Richmond City Auditor and state officials turned up multiple issues, including unreliable door locks, deficient staff training and sloppy record-keeping.
The city released this press release this afternoon:
Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the city of Richmond will close the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center and place most operational staff on administrative leave until further notice. Richmond city youth requiring juvenile detention will be housed at neighboring facilities throughout the surrounding area.
The decision follows a series of mounting concerns related to staff and management shortcomings and allegations of criminal behavior. “After our last visit to the State Board of Juvenile Justice, I indicated that additional changes in management and operations would be forthcoming,” said Mayor Jones. “My determination at this time is that it would be in the best interest of the future operation of the Juvenile Detention Center if we voluntarily relinquish the license for at least one year while we work to reestablish the facility.”
The city of Richmond is expected to relinquish its license by close of business Friday, April 27, 2012. The relocation of residents began today. Parents and guardians have been notified of the status of the facility and relocation of the juveniles. Employees have been given notice and normal human resources procedures are being employed.
“Relinquishing our license is an extraordinary measure, but one, in my estimation, that is the best approach for us to take at this time,” the Mayor said. “I feel strongly that if we had not taken this action, the State almost certainly would be looking at decertification of this facility. This is not an action that I take lightly or without grave deliberation. This is an action I’m taking to move us in the direction of having a facility that is properly run and well-managed.”
Richmond City Council was notified of the closure decision today during a previously scheduled budget work session.
“My primary focus has always been on what is in the best interest of the children,” Mayor Jones said. “My confidence in the management and operations of this facility has diminished to the point that I have no choice but to take this action.”