Richmond Juvenile Detention Center on probation - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond Juvenile Detention Center on probation

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's happened, again. For the second time in three years the state has placed the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center on probation.

The VA State Board of Juvenile Justice took the action after safety concerns were raised by the Richmond chapter of the NAACP and the office of the inspector general.

An investigation found the facility to have a number of safety problems -- including malfunctioning locks and security cameras.

Heidi Abbott is chair of the VA State Bard of Juvenile Justice.

"As a board we have three options. We could do nothing, we could put them on probation or we could decertify the facility which is an extreme action because that could entail shutting the facility down," said Abbott.

The city has laid out a corrective action plan. Last month, the city awarded an emergency contract, totaling nearly $350,000, to fix the problems.

"We're paying close attention to what they're doing," said Abbott.

Earlier this month the office of the Commonwealth's Attorney in Richmond launched a criminal investigation at the detention center -- after allegations of fraud were raised.

As far as safety -- the city says it will have the problems corrected by April. Abbott is optimistic.

"They've assured us that within that time frame they'll work to have those deficiencies addressed. Our responsibility as a state board is the health, safety, and welfare of children in those facilities," said Abbott. 

In a statement Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones says in part, "I share the state board's concern....Our first priority is fixing the problems that have been cited at the juvenile justice center."

The probation status of the detention center will be re-evaluated in April at the state board's next meeting.

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