Inside Blue Ridge Detention Center

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

February 21, 2006

The teens accused of plotting to blow up two Albemarle County schools will be in juvenile court tomorrow for a hearing. Since their arrests, the kids have been held at the Blue Ridge Detention Center on Avon Street. Here is a rare inside look inside the facility.

Because it's a juvenile facility cameras weren't allowed to take any pictures of the inmates, nor could they answers specific questions about the teens accused of the school threats, but here is a look at what goes on behind locked doors.

Accused of anything from theft to murder, kids are locked up here for short periods while they wait for the courts to rule on their guilt or innocence.

There are beds for forty at this state of the art $10 million facility where 51 cameras watch inmates' every move.

They wake up at 5 a.m. They go to class at 8 a.m. and eat lunch at noon. Exercise is also scheduled and lights go out promptly at 9 p.m.

"I'd say anytime you lose your freedom you don't have it very easy," said Blue Ridge Detention Center Superintendent Charles Edwards.

With four full time teachers and one principal, the center's main objective is to continue the kids? education.

"Were trying to make sure they don't get further behind while they are here and in many cases we are catching them up," said Edwards.

Mental health, substance abuse and work readiness programs are provided by outside resources so inmates can further their treatment even after they're released.

"[We are] transitioning the residents not only to their families but to these other agencies that can help them," said Ed Bowman Programs Coordinator.

Ultimately Blue Ridge does as much as they can in a short period of time to make sure they don't see the same child walk through their doors twice.

"We hope that when they come in here that something is said, something is done, something sparks their interest to abide by the laws of the commonwealth," said Edwards.

The detention center also has a video link to the juvenile court so inmates don't always have to leave the facility to appear in court. But tomorrow were told three of the four teens accused of plotting the school threats will appear in court in person for their preliminary hearing.

The Commonwealth's Attorney has indicated that tomorrow is also most likely when we'll find out if these teens age 13, 15 and 16 will be tried as juveniles or as adults.

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