Juvenile justice center to remain on probation

Published: Apr. 12, 2012 at 2:52 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 17, 2012 at 3:09 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Richmond Juvenile Detention Center isn't out of the fire just yet.  After a hearing Wednesday night, the state decided to keep the embattled center on probation.  The facility was put on probation months ago and its superintendent fired after examiners found dozens of violations.

It was very tense inside the meeting room Wednesday night. The hearing lasted almost three hours.  After members threatened to shut down the juvenile center, the mayor's administration was able to convince them to keep the doors opened.

The juvenile justice board meeting was almost like a court hearing with the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center and Mayor Dwight Jones' administration on the stand.

"We believe we are on the correct path not to end up in the same spot again," Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall told the board.

Members struggled with available options such as continuing probation, which they ultimately concluded, or decertifying the facility altogether.  That would require the center be shut down and the kids be moved.

"Clearly we were concerned about the discussion but we believe that we would be able to convince them we were already doing the right thing," Marshall told NBC12 after the vote.

It's important to note the facility corrected all of the state-noted deficiencies and is in full compliance in that regard.  Many of the questions surrounded the alleged falsification of training documents and the Commonwealth's Attorney's investigation, which has not yet been completed.

"If every juvenile correctional center in this state is vulnerable that any person can falsify a document and the facility will be closed, I think you're in for some very tough times ahead," explained Justice Services Director Charles Kehoe.

In the next six weeks, the facility will undergo a full audit, have every training record verified, submit a corrective action plan, hire a third party investigator and resolve computer problems.

As of now, the facility will remain on probation until January of next year.  It needs to have those other requirements completed by the board's next meeting in June.

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