Richmond Juvenile Detention Center receives certification

1/15/2014, 4:09 p.m.
Less than two years after it was unceremoniusly closed over unsafe conditions brought to light by the Virginia State Conference ...

Less than two years after it was unceremoniusly closed over unsafe conditions brought to light by the Virginia State Conference NAACP, the city’s Juvenile Detention Center has been certified for three years. The unsafe conditions included broken equipment, lack of staff training and forged documents.

The facility that houses youth accused and convicted of numerous crimes, was closed for more than a year as it underwent repairs and staff changes. It reopened last June with cell door locks that were operational as opposed to previous conditions, operational intercom systems and security cameras, as well as mostly new staff who had undergone at least 120 hours of training.

“My primary focus for this facility has and always will be that we provide for what is in the best interest of the youth we have been charged to serve,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We want the young people who are residents of this facility to know that there are people who care for them, people who want the best for them and people who have an unwavering desire to see them succeed in life.

“Since closing the facility in 2012, we have been busy putting in place key personnel and performing the needed upgrades that have moved us in the direction of having a facility that is properly run and well-managed. The state’s three year certification speaks highly of the steps taken by the city as a one year certification was expected at this time.”

The certification was issued by the director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Mark Gooch, following two 2013 state audits, performed in June and October, that found the city’s Juvenile Detention Center to be compliant. This certification follows the Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice’s six-month certification that was issued on June 12, 2013. The new three year certification is in effect until June 12, 2016.

In April 2012, Jones closed the city’s Juvenile Detention Center and relinquished the facility’s license citing a loss of confidence in its management and operation. The June 2013 six-month certification allowed the facility to reopen following the successful completion of the state audit.

The mayor thanked David Hicks, his senior policy advisor and interim director for the city’s Department of Justice Services, for “overseeing efforts needed to resolve the issues that have plagued this facility for quite some time”. He also recognized the facility’s new superintendent Rodney Baskerville and the staff Baskerville put in place, “as they too have been on the front line of implementing not only the needed changes, but the change in culture that was so desperately needed for this facility.”