Juvenile Center on Probation 

City has until April to fix problems, or state could force shutdown.

For administrators at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, there’s good news and bad news.

The bad news: Yesterday, at a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Juvenile Justice, the 60-bed facility was placed on probation for the second time since 2009. The board voted unanimously to do so after receiving a briefing on the various maintenance and safety problems at the center.

Recent inspections by the Richmond City Auditor and state officials have turned up multiple issues, including unreliable door locks, deficient staff training and sloppy record-keeping.

The good news: Officials believe that most of the deficiencies can be fixed by the board’s next meeting in April. If they are not, however, the board could move to have the facility’s certification revoked and its operations shut down.

“We’re committed to having a first-class operation,” said Carolyn Graham, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for human services, following the meeting. She says city officials, and Mayor Dwight Jones, are committed to “giving us what we need to bring the facility up to snuff.”

Last month, city officials re-worked the city budget to provide $344,000 in emergency funds to repair the center’s electronic door-locking system and to beef up video security.

In a statement released shortly after the meeting, Jones promised to get to the bottom of how the problems arose and “why it took so long to fix them” once the facility has regained its normal status.

King Salim Khalfani, state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, applauded the board’s decision, saying, “I’m glad to see them take action on this.” In recent weeks, Khalfani has accused city officials of dragging their feet in addressing problems at the center.

Allegations that signatures on certain training documents held by the center were forged remains unresolved. Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring began investigating the forgery claims last month.

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