Drop in Chesterfield juveniles behind bars

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield County along with the state, is taking an active approach to get juveniles on the straight and narrow.

"A lot of the cases, about 35% of arrests we get a year from this jurisdiction, we divert," said Jim Nankervis with juvenile probation.

That means 35% of boys and girls charged with a crime won't go before a judge. Instead, they're sentence is enrollment in a prevention program.

"Not only do we look for what's bad about them, we look for what's positive. What can we use to help the child and the family become better and not go further into the system and that's probably worked better in the last year than I've seen," said Nankervis.

Nankervis says a sign of success is never seeing the juvenile in trouble with the law again. But even if they do end up at the county's holding tank, there's still one last chance to keep from becoming a career criminal.

"It's six months. It's an opportunity for us to provide some helping educational type programs," said Joe Campbell with Chesterfield County's Juvenile Detention Center.

A select group of inmates can get their GED or high school diploma through the un-funded program.

"People are doing double-duty at times, wearing 2 to 3 hats in order to pull this off," said Campbell.

And it's working; the county has done their part to help cut the number of juveniles in state custody in half.

"We tell them, you think its structures and this is a hard facility, but if you ever hit that adult system you're gonna see a hard facility," Campbell said.

The number one crime committed by juveniles is larceny and even that crime is down this summer.

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