Leaders of Richmond's problem-plagued juvenile detention center are now breathing a small sigh of relief. They made it through the state audit required to get their license back. The visit comes just weeks before a June state board approval hearing.
From the moment state auditors walk into the facility, their inspectors' eyes are wide open. They examine what new chief Rodney Baskerville has done to give the center a new life.
"When people talk about well 'what are you doing' it's not like everything needs to be replaced but it's a lot of little things that you have to pay attention to prior to an audit," Baskerville explained. "If you don't, then you won't pass that audit."
The juvenile justice veteran has been taking the center on a road to recovery of sorts. The city voluntarily closed the doors there last year because it was about to lose its state license.
Top on his to-do list is correcting a former problem area with an entirely new staff of about sixty youth counselors and supervisors. They were chosen from more than 900 applicants and were still being trained last week
"We are a team and when we have issues there's policies and procedures in place that allow them to come through their chain of command to voice their opinions, to voice their ideas or voice their concerns," Baskerville described.
The team has worked on almost every part of this place. There are new and improved equipment, light fixtures, a gym floor and glass windows, along with an intense cleaning session. Baskerville is focusing specifically on the juvenile's pods and their broader implications.
"They feel that people don't care about them," Baskerville said of the youth ordered to be in the facility. "When they feel that someone actually does care, that there are people out there that are really concerned about their well-being, then I think they'll feel much better when they go back into their environment," he added.
City leaders feel optimistic about the audit and say if they had permission, for the most part, they are ready to open right now. There are only a few smaller things left to take care of before the kids come back.
The state juvenile justice board is scheduled to make its decision June 12th. If approved, the city hopes to reopen the facility July first.
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