- Report Published -
|Juvenile Correctional Center Utilization Report|
|Department of Juvenile Justice, Director|
|Appropriation Act - Item 445 C. (Special Session I, 2004)|
|2004 Virginia Acts of Assembly Special Session 1 Chapter 4 Item 445 C.:|
“The Department of Juvenile Justice shall provide a report on its plan for utilization of the state’s juvenile correctional centers, including any projected alternative programs for housing juvenile offenders committed to the Department. Such report shall first be based upon funding and staffing levels included in this report, and may include alternative plans based upon requests for additional resources and the subsequent biennia. The Director of the Department shall provide the report to the Governor and to the Chairman of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committee no later than October 1, 2004.”
To develop a report as required by the Acts of Assembly, DJJ has examined historical trends associated with utilization of the state’s Juvenile Correctional Centers (JCCs), the current juvenile population, and the future needs of the Department. Central to these future needs of DJJ is the issue of sight and sound separation as required for compliance with the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act (reauthorized in 2002).
Sight and Sound Separation
DJJ is presently developing a plan to comply with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) policy interpretation regarding the separation core requirement [Section 223(a)(13)(A)] of the JJDP Act. The policy requires that convicted wards over the age of 18 be kept “sight and sound separate” from juvenile wards in the Department’s JCCs. Implementing the compliance plan involves significant physical plant, operational, and programmatic issues. The Department will also be challenged to deliver quality programs and services to its special populations (e.g., low intellectual functioning wards, sexual offenders, substance abusers, etc.) under the constraints of sight and sound separation. The target date for coming into compliance with the OJJDP sight and sound separation requirement is May 7, 2006. See Appendix A.
For planning purposes at DJJ, the following groups have been defined for use in this document:
Age <18 – includes all wards under the age of 18 who were committed by a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (J&DR) or a circuit court.
Age 18+ Not CC – includes wards who have attained the age of 18 and were committed by J&DR court and not committed by the circuit court.
Age 18+ CC – includes all wards who have attained the age of 18 and were committed by the circuit court.
Through this plan for the utilization of juvenile correctional centers, the Department of Juvenile Justice intends to describe an overarching philosophy for a response to juvenile crime. Core to this approach is the belief that in the context of community protections, juveniles may need to be safely and effectively confined and rehabilitated in a variety of settings.
These settings include large, secure facilities such as juvenile correctional centers that are often remote from the juvenile’s home communities and which emphasize high levels of security, certain specialized rehabilitative services, and longer periods of confinement. Among the juveniles most appropriate for such settings include those who have committed the most serious offenses and who may therefore, represent the greatest threat to the community; those whose criminal behavior justifies longer durations of confinement; and/or those who specialized treatment or rehabilitative needs cannot be efficiently met in other settings.
It is clear that juvenile correctional centers will always be needed and that the population they serve has been fairly consistent for the past few years. It is also clear that the current practice of housing and treating the majority of the committed wards in the juvenile correctional centers in large groups is neither effective nor therapeutic. Best practices and national models clearly indicate a move to smaller groupings of wards for both housing and treatment with small staff to student ratios. This is seen as the proper direction for the delivery of all therapeutic intervention and not just specialized programs such as those for sex offenders.
Although there are several large facilities DJJ intends to change the current practice of placing 20 to 25 wards together in a unit. Smaller groupings for security and treatment purposes allows for more therapeutic intervention. Small groupings within the juvenile correctional centers allow staff to model behavior and interact with wards in a manner that supports learning appropriate and adaptive behavior. Such grouping removes the feeling that wards may not be safe or that they are “lost in the shuffle.” This approach allows wards to be treated as individuals and prepares them to begin the transition from secure confinement to less secure settings and the eventual return to the community.
Other options include smaller secure settings that may be located geographically closer to the juveniles’ home communities. While still providing protection of community safety, smaller settings have a number of advantages over larger congregate care facilities and may allow for more individualized treatment and services, while allowing for smoother transition to the community by ongoing contact with families and community based services. Such facilities would include secure local detention facilities where designated space is purchased and programmed to serve the needs of committed juveniles. Juveniles appropriate for such placements include those with shorter expected periods of incarceration, those who are less serious offenders, and/or those for whom proximity to the community would be most advantageous. DJJ has begun, on a small scale, to develop such options under the umbrella of the “Community Placement Program.”
Finally, for some committed juveniles, “staff secure” facilities (those without extensive physical security features such as razor wire) may most appropriately meet the joint needs of community safety and effective rehabilitation. Juveniles with relatively minor committing and prior offenses (e.g., no serious felonies) can be placed in such community-based facilities to participate in rehabilitative programming, be held accountable for their behavior, and be successfully reintegrated into the community at the appropriate time.
Until most recently, DJJ has relied almost exclusively on the large, highly secure JCC facilities to address the committed juvenile population. The plan reflected in this document represents an evolution to a more comprehensive, cost-sensitive, and effective response, while maintaining a clear focus on public safety.
Part I includes a description of DJJ’s facilities.
Part II examines historical juvenile offender trends.
Part III looks at juveniles currently in DJJ’s facilities.
Part IV reflects DJJ’s state responsible juvenile offender population forecast.
Part V offers a summary of the data illustrated in this report.
Part VI imparts recommendations.
Part VII presents the budget summary.
Part VIII proposes an implementation plan.