RD200 - Juvenile Correctional Center Task Force: Final Report, July 2017
The Interagency Task Force on Juvenile Correctional Centers (Task Force) submits this final report based on the recommendations for design principles for the Chesapeake facility and any other new secure facility construction, the projected numbers and service needs of the population, presentations to the Task Force from both stakeholders and national experts, and research and best practices concerning the rehabilitation of youth involved in the justice system. The report is also based on an analysis of existing JCC infrastructure and the relative costs and benefits of renovating existing facilities, building new facilities, and/or selling current DJJ property to help offset construction costs.
The Juvenile Correctional Center Task Force: Interim Report (herein referred to as the Interim Report) is referenced throughout this report without fully repeating the information. Therefore, these reports should be read in conjunction, and the Interim Report is attached as the final appendix.
It is important to note that the Task Force focused on just one aspect of the overall juvenile justice transformation that is taking place in Virginia. Specifically, the Task Force, as directed by the General Assembly, focused on secure facilities, the most restrictive and most costly placement option in the statewide continuum of services that the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is developing, simultaneously with the work of the Task Force. Extensive research suggests, and the Task Force recognizes, that committing youth to a secure facility should in most cases be a last resort, to be pursued only after less restrictive and more community-based interventions have been exhausted.
Although this report is focused on the design and potential construction of new secure therapeutic facilities, it is critical to note that (i) this new construction does not add new secure beds; rather, it decreases the number of beds by approximately 70% and improves the care provided for committed youth, and (ii) the services in these secure facilities are part of a system response that focuses on community interventions as the preferred option whenever possible, including the provision of diversion, intensive support services, community supervision, and placement of committed youth in local community-based alternatives.
The Task Force recognizes that the small number of youth still held in secure facilities likely will have a complex array of challenges, including substantial exposure to trauma, behavioral health issues, educational challenges, and serious offense histories. In order to increase their chances of successful rehabilitation and reduce the likelihood of reoffending upon release, construction of two new therapeutic facilities is necessary to maintain the safety and security of staff, youth, and the surrounding community.
In sum, the Task Force determined that new facilities can and should be significantly smaller than the current JCCs, and the new facilities should be located as close as possible to the home communities of their residents. These facilities should incorporate design features that are most likely to promote rigorous and sustained treatment and rehabilitation while maintaining safety and security. The recommendations of the Task Force are listed in the following section.
The recommendations from the entirety of the Task Force’s work include the following:
• Design and build a new, treatment-oriented, and trauma-informed 60-bed secure therapeutic facility with five 12-bed units in Chesapeake, in partnership with the city of Chesapeake;
• Design and build a new, treatment-oriented, and trauma-informed secure therapeutic facility of up to 96 beds with 12-bed units on the current property of Bon Air JCC, with the final capacity pending ongoing monitoring of the population and updated direct care forecasts; and
• Establish a design team to guide the final internal design of housing units and sleeping areas with input from residents and their family members.
• Capacity as small as possible, given funding limitations, economies of scale, and the need for safety and operational efficiencies;
• Open environment with no internal fences, inside a safe and secure perimeter;
• External secure egress areas outside the main campus;
• Open sight lines to increase security;
• Close proximity of housing units to shared spaces (e.g., medical, education, visitation, recreation, food services) for easy and quick transfer times;
• Incorporation of elements of a welcoming and stabilizing environment, such as:
o Movable furnishings that permit changing use of space throughout the day and over time while offering control over the environment; and
o Familiar and variable construction materials that do not present an overt expectation of damaging behavior;
• Trauma-responsive design, furnishings, lighting, and architectural features, such as:
o Open interior spaces with views to the outside;
o Natural lighting, as well as adjustable lighting;
o Ready access to outdoor spaces from housing and program areas;
o Light colors; and
o Sound absorbing materials;
• Increased use of technology to promote security, case planning, and training; and
• Sufficient space for staff to take breaks, store personal belongings, and have access to computers for operational, communication, and educational use.
HOUSING UNITS AND SLEEPING ROOMS
• 12-bed housing units in separate buildings, built to reinforce the small group treatment approach;
• Minimally institutional sleeping rooms (e.g., no concrete slab beds) with the ability for staff to lock when needed for security purposes;
• Flexible and comfortable common, multipurpose space that is on or accessible from the housing units;
• Welcoming family visitation spaces that allow privacy;
• Private, dedicated treatment space;
• Private space for staff meetings (e.g., treatment planning and consultation);
• Dedicated spaces accessible to each housing unit for group activities, relaxation, and indoor and outdoor recreation;
• Outdoor space sufficient for recreation, adjacent to and easily accessible from the housing units;
• Single rooms for a large proportion of bed capacity with consideration for small dormitories for certain segments of the direct care population (e.g., a transition unit);
• No linear designs in housing units;
• No double-bunking in sleeping rooms;
• No large, shared sleeping rooms; and
• No space dedicated to the isolation of youth.
• Equipped with instructional technology to address the academic and hands-on career readiness needs of a population ranging in age from 11 to 21, including credit recovery, enrichment needs, and access to distance learning;
• Technology infrastructure and digital space to manage online instructional and career readiness software, curricula, assessments, performance-based projects, and data collection to be used by instructional staff;
• Space to accommodate project-based learning activities, distance learning labs, and celebratory events (e.g., graduation, assemblies, and other events); and
• Designated areas for diploma-seeking students and career readiness and post-secondary programs.
• Continue to authorize DJJ to reinvest all savings derived from the closure and reconfiguration of new and existing facilities to expand the continuum of services, supporting the evidence-based interventions that the Task Force believes will reduce both offending and costs to the Commonwealth;
• Declare surplus and sell all other DJJ-owned land, except property on the Bon Air JCC campus needed for the construction of a new facility and the property in Hanover County where the Virginia Public Safety Training Center is located;
• Develop 16-20 Community Placement Program (CPP) beds in Northern Virginia as part of the continuum of services; and
• Conduct a review by DJJ, with input from partners and stakeholders, of the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act (VJCCCA) funding formula, Maintenance of Effort (MOE), and programmatic requirements and make recommendations to the Board of Juvenile Justice regarding the following:
o A revised formula for VJCCCA funding allocations that reflects current data and the changing needs since the inception of VJCCCA;
o Upon approval by the Board of Juvenile Justice, legislative action to support the revised formula, either through a statutory change or in the Appropriations Act; and
o The defined population to be served through VJCCCA and identified service priorities to address the needs of the locality and the population.