- Report Published -
|Juvenile Correctional Center Utilization Report - October 1, 2011|
|Department of Juvenile Justice|
|Appropriation Act - Item 400 D.1. (Regular Session, 2011)|
|In response to language included in the 2011 Appropriation Act, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) prepared a report on the utilization of juvenile correctional centers (JCCs), the utilization of detention centers, and the feasibility of the closure of a JCC and the enhancement of transitional programs and re-entry services.|
Since fiscal year (FY) 2006, both admissions and average daily population (ADP) decreased every year. Utilization of JCC operating capacity, excluding the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC), was 97% in FY 2010. Based on the various treatment needs and other population management concerns among committed juveniles, DJJ has determined that the target utilization for the JCCs, excluding RDC, is approximately 80-85%.
Utilization of the licensed capacity of detention centers was 56% in FY 2010. (Due to utilization and budget constraints, licensed capacity may not represent the number of “operational” or “staffed” beds, which may be significantly lower.) Detention centers have been used for alternative and transitional placements of committed juveniles in the past, and DJJ received a grant award in 2010 for a Juvenile Offender Re-entry Demonstration Project in the Tidewater region, which includes a detention re-entry component.
Options Considered by the Workgroup
Option #1: Implement a statewide detention re-entry program for juveniles to return to the detention center in their home communities during the last 30-90 days of commitment, pending funding, in order to increase re-entry and transitional services.
Implementing a statewide detention re-entry program is a potential option for creating transitional programs in detention centers. In this program, eligible juveniles would return to the detention center in their home communities during the last 30-90 days of commitment in order to receive re-entry and transitional services. The currently established rate for detention re-entry is $100 per bed per day.
The following considerations must be examined before implementing a detention re-entry program in each individually-operated detention center:
1. Security requirements of juveniles versus physical plants of each detention center
2. Staff levels and distribution in JCCs and each detention center
3. Treatment requirements of juveniles versus services provided at each detention center, including mental health, substance abuse, sex offender, and age- and gender-specific needs of juveniles
4. Availability and continuity of educational services at each detention center, including middle school, high school, GED, vocational, and services for graduates
5. Capabilities of each detention center to house special populations (e.g., sex offenders, juveniles with severe mental health disorders, low-functioning juveniles)
6. Delivery of health services at each detention center
Detention re-entry is the most viable option for utilizing detention center beds for re-entry purposes. The program moves juveniles to their home communities without regionalization, and it could be incrementally implemented across the state while being monitored and evaluated for effectiveness in reducing recidivism. DJJ is already piloting this program as part of the Second Chance Act Grant, but additional funding is necessary to expand it. The department will continue to identify grant opportunities and potential reallocation of savings. However, serious consideration should be provided for identifying additional funding in the state budget for the allocation of financial support to implement detention re-entry.
Option #2: Investigate the possibility of establishing regional CPPs as alternatives or step-down placement options, with extensive input from the detention centers potentially involved.
Recreating regional CPPs is another potential option for transitional and step-down services. By creating four regional CPPs with ten beds each, juveniles could be placed in the CPP closest to their communities. Since detention centers, rather than DJJ, would operate the programs, the planning necessary to finalize program components and other details of the MOA must be completed with extensive input from the detention centers potentially involved. The same six considerations listed for detention re-entry would also be applicable to CPPs, and additional study, collaboration with detention centers, development of program guidelines, and analysis of costs would be necessary before the possibility of implementation. Furthermore, the regionalization of CPPs is not as desirable as the locality-based approach of detention re-entry, making detention re-entry the better option for a detention-based program for committed juveniles.
Recommendation #1: Do not close a JCC at this time.
In order to adequately place and move residents for the purposes of security and program delivery, facilities need more empty beds when there are more individualized needs for treatment and services in the population. Based on the various treatment needs and other population management concerns among committed juveniles, DJJ has determined that the target utilization for the JCCs, excluding RDC, is approximately 80-85%.
This study revealed that the utilization of JCC operating capacity in FY 2010, excluding RDC, was 97%, exceeding the target rate and approaching 100%. Exceeding this figure may cause challenges in placing residents with treatment needs or other placement considerations in the appropriate environment. Therefore, it is not feasible to close a JCC at this time, and additional beds are required for committed juveniles, whether in the JCCs or through detention-based programs. It is recommended that serious consideration be provided for additional beds to be opened, pending funding, utilizing some of the 202 additional beds currently not being used across four JCCs. These beds could be closed as the need for them diminished. However, opening additional housing units would require additional funding.
Even if these beds were opened, it is not a viable option for Oak Ridge, the smallest JCC with 40 beds, to close. Oak Ridge residents require a centralized environment arrangement with single-bed rooms in order to provide effective treatment and services to the low-functioning juveniles. The potentially usable beds would be scattered across four facilities and would not comply with the necessary single-bed room arrangement. The next smallest facility is Hanover, with a capacity of 120. If all of the potentially usable beds were opened, the utilization rate (excluding RDC) would be 91%, exceeding the target rate of 80-85%. Thus, it is not feasible to close Hanover at this time, and no other facility has an ADP or operational capacity small enough to be able to close while maintaining the target 80-85% utilization rate.
It is important to note that opening additional JCC beds is not intended to “widen the net” and increase the number of committed youth. Opening additional beds would not increase the likelihood of juveniles being committed or decrease the availability or access to detention-based programs. In fact, these beds could be reclosed if the JCC population later decreased due to either a decline in commitments or an increase in the use of detention-based programs. Conversely, should the juvenile offender population begin to increase in the future then action concerning additional bed space will need to occur.
Recommendation #2: Identify funding before implementing the proposed programs in detention centers, opening additional JCC beds, or creating other re-entry programs.
It is not recommended that a facility be closed at this time due to the current population management considerations, and it is unlikely that a facility closure would result in sufficient cost-savings for the immediate implementation of the proposed programs. Therefore, before implementing any of the three options above, funding streams must be identified independently from the reallocation of funds from facility closures. It may be possible to reallocate funding from other existing sources to implement re-entry programs on a limited or smaller scale. Thus, DJJ should conduct ongoing assessments of expenditures in order to identify possible sources for reallocating funding for operational and re-entry purposes. Also, DJJ will continue to investigate possible grant opportunities to help fund programs for committed juveniles. Finally, funding in the state budget could be allocated for these services.
An ongoing process for the long-term planning of JCC utilization and detention-based re-entry programs should be established.
More investigation and analyses are necessary to determine the feasibility of both the implementation of transitional detention programs and resulting changes in the utilization of JCCs. It is recommended that DJJ continue to examine JCC population trends, characteristics and needs of committed juveniles, physical conditions of JCCs, and potential funding sources for programming. Any pilot programs should be monitored to determine the impact on JCC population counts and utilization rates. This examination should become an ongoing process in order to establish long-term planning for the operation of JCCs and the development of detention-based re-entry programs, and decisions to open or close JCC units or facilities and to implement detention-based re-entry programs should be based on these ongoing analyses.