RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – For the first time our cameras were allowed inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, which is under fire for bad conditions. It took some convincing to get inside. When we met city officials there Tuesday night, the administration said it welcomes visitors. But at that moment, our request for a tour was turned down. It was 24 hours later when we were allowed in.
An inspection by the city health department was just one reason Director of Justice Services Charles Kehoe told NBC12 there was a time lag in allowing our cameras access.
"We wanted to make sure that we were compliant," he explained.
New allegations of a bed bug problem were brought this week. City officials showed us documentation they said proves those accusations are unfounded, including a report from health inspectors dated Wednesday morning.
"They came in, did an inspection of the young lady's room who claimed she had bed bugs," Kehoe said. "They did the inspection on either side, which is their protocol. They didn't find anything."
Inside for the first time since the center's superintendent was fired and the state placed the facility on probation, we were shown fixes management said it is making. A security camera we observed is one of 32 additions, most of which have yet to be installed.
Our cameras, however, were not allowed inside the residence pods, where some of the violations have been noted. We were permitted to shoot intake rooms, which are similar to inmates' quarters. Intercoms there still need to be replaced, as well as a few locks.
Kehoe cited security concerns as the reason we couldn't show our viewers actual rooms.
"I'm not sure when things go viral that I can absolutely ensure the integrity of the system," he maintained.
We're told that system is on schedule to be in compliance by March 5th.
That will, however, cost taxpayers more than $300,000 in emergency funding and an additional $150,000 in annual budgeting. There's also overtime cost for the staff training required by the state.