CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s juvenile justice system is being reorganized. “The changes we’re making are positive changes for the division,” said state Director of Juvenile Services Stephanie Bond.
“Them (kid criminals) being in our facilities protects the community, but we also have a mission that we need to protect those kids while they’re in our custody and make sure they’re receiving the proper treatment for their needs,” she said.
Under the reorganization plan, juvenile sex offenders will be moved out of the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center in Harrison County and into the Sam Perdue Treatment Center in Mercer County.
Juveniles with behavioral or mental issues will be treated at the James “Tiger” Morton Juvenile Center in Kanawha County.
More than $2 million will be spent in upgrades at the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center in Boone County in the coming year to turn it into a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders.
Offenders needing medium or maximum security will continue to be temporarily housed at the J.M. “Chick” Buckbee Juvenile Center in Hampshire County.
Following a lawsuit from Mountain State Justice alleging a number of facility problems, Mercer County Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn called for the closure of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth and has given the state until September 30 to move kids out of the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center.
“We’re trying to do that in the most cost effective manner, but still taking care of these kids in the appropriate way,” said Bond of the reorganization efforts that started with those rulings.
“The best way we found to do that was to reutilize some of our current facilities.”
A status hearing on the judge’s orders is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13.
“The bottom line is, we’re going to take care of the kids that are in our custody,” said Bond. “We’re going to do everything that we can to help them so when they are released from our custody they’re law abiding, productive citizens.”
The former Salem Industrial Home for Youth will reopen, later this year, as a correctional center for adults.