Changes in juvenile justice is focus of JCPC meeting

Wil Petty

May 29, 2014

In its final meeting of the 2014-15 fiscal year, the Ashe County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council were updated on the strategic plan for juvenile justice facilities.

“We have had some changes in juvenile justice over the last few months,” said Linda Graney, area consultant at the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. “At one point we had our own department, the Department of Juvenile Justice.”

About two years ago, the Department of Juvenile Justice combined with the Department of Adult Corrections, all working under the N.C. Department of Public Safety (DPS).

“Moving forward, we’re hopefully going to be where we want to be for awhile, at least we hope that,” Graney said.

Graney then presented the Juvenile Justice Strategic Plan that was issued in 2014,

The document was a Juvenile Justice Facilities Strategic Plan issued in April 2014.

“It really turned into a larger strategic plan than just facilities,” Graney said. “It encompassed juvenile justice as a whole.”

Graney said the plans the department are bringing to the state will still require some legislation.

According to handouts given by Graney, the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice plans to close two youth centers and reopen two others. All facilities involved are in counties in eastern North Carolina and have no bearing on Ashe County.

“You remember over the last couple of years, the legislature has closed our newer centers and they had opened some of our older facilities…well, this plan calls for closing those old centers and reopening the newer ones,” she said. “That is the piece the legislature has to approve since they previously closed them down.”

Ashe and other counties within the 23rd Judicial District (Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Yadkin counties), use a short-term residential program located in Boomer, in Wilkes County. The program is one of three in the state, with the other two being located in Montgomery and Vance counties.

Also, the plan will call for an expansion of beds in other facilities, including 16 new beds statewide and five new transitional homes, which will add 40 beds.

Graney said the department wanted input from the individual JCPCs about where those beds and homes should be placed. The data proposing these changes was because of the recidivism rate among youths in the system.

“What we are asking local communities is if they have thoughts around what would be helpful in communities, to be able to have that opportunity for input,” she said. “There’s not a great amount of detail about how this will be carried out. Everything has yet to be fleshed out.”

In addition, Graney talked about changes in personnel within her department. As of May 1, William Lassiter has been named deputy commissioner of Juvenile Justice in the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.

“What this announcement tells you is they (Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice) have made a decision, and I personally believe it is a wise one, to combine all of the pieces of juvenile justice back together as a section under the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.”

The Juvenile Crime Prevention Council decided not to hold meetings in June or July. Due to a lack of quorum, no further decisions were made by the Council.

The next meeting of the Ashe County JCPC will be held at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 26.