Task force calls for ‘significantly smaller’ youth correctional facilities

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new report is calling for “significantly smaller” juvenile correctional facilities in Virginia.

An interim report from a state task force recommends that juvenile offenders be housed in small living units closer to their homes. The new report finds juvenile correctional facilities should be designed to provide the youth with a therapeutic environment rather than just confining them to a space.

The report also calls for doing away with secure wire fencing outside youth prisons, and supports Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plan to close the 282-bed Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center in Powhatan and open a smaller 64 bed facility in Chesapeake.

Studies have shown that troubled youth do better in smaller rehab centers where parental engagement is possible.

In past investigations, 8News has uncovered it can cost as much as $200,000 to incarcerate a child in Virginia and that 73 percent end up back behind bars within three years. The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice has admitted the current system has not gotten the outcomes it should for youth and is committed to working on reforms.

A final report from the task force is due next July when the Beaumont Center is expected to close.

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