April 27, 2012
Richmond's troubled juvenile detention center is closing due to concerns about personnel issues and allegations of criminal behavior.
City officials planned to give up the facility's state license Friday.
"My primary focus has always been on what is in the best interest of the children," Mayor Dwight Jones said in a news release issued Thursday announcing the decision. "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."
Juveniles held at the detention center are being moved to other facilities in the area. Most of the center's employees are on administrative leave until further notice.
The state Board of Juvenile Justice put the facility on probation in January because of malfunctioning locks and other safety concerns. Earlier this month, the board decided to keep the center on probation until January 2013. It also directed the city to hire a third party to investigate whether training records were forged.
"After our last visit to the State Board of Juvenile Justice, I indicated that additional changes in management and operations would be forthcoming," Jones said. "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."
He called relinquishing the center's license "an extraordinary measure." But he said it is the city's best approach to address the problems.
"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," Jones said.
Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/InvQQE) that city officials decided to "close the thing down and start over" after new allegations came to light. He did not provide details.