Juvenile correctional center draws safety concerns for special needs kids

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - A juvenile correctional center in Powhatan has been under fire recently.

Critics say the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center should not house special needs youth offenders. Many insist the maximum security facility is just not safe for them.

The Beaumont Maximum Security Juvenile Correctional Center is a highly guarded facility.

Youth are escorted from class to class, and all visitors are subject to extensive pat downs.

The maximum security facility is the soon to be new home of special needs youth now housed at the Oak Ridge facility in Chesterfield.

The move comes despite a 2011 Department of Juvenile Justice report calling such a move, "not viable" due to concerns about effective treatment for low-functioning youth.

"If we had a choice, we would have kept them open, but in this case the population has been going down," said Greg Davy with the Department of Juvenile Justice. "We were asked to see if we could cut some budget here and there."

NBC 12 was given an all-access tour of the maximum security facility. Staff members insist the special needs youth will be closed off from the maximum security population.

Providing a safe and secure environment will come at a cost. It will cost an initial $40,000 to prepare the wing for youth ranging in age from 12 to 20, all operating on a 4th grade level.

"You want to make sure that the program remains the same," said Davy. "That it remains the same high quality that it always has."

Budget cuts are ultimately driving the decision to abandon the original analysis that called moving the Oak Ridge special needs youth "not viable."

"Is this just the best case in a worst case scenario?" we asked Davy.

"I would say it was making lemons out of lemonade," said Davy.

We have to note that slip of the tongue. Just how sour or sweet the move proves to be, is yet to be determined.

The DJJ is set to begin moving the youth on March 26.

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