Advocacy group joins ‘center’ fight

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

A Richmond-based group is calling for the proposed youth correctional center to be located on the Peninsula and in the neighborhoods where the boys are from. 

Valerie Slater with RISE for Youth said that a large percentage of incarcerated youth in Hampton Roads are from Newport News and Hampton, and asked why not put the 60-bed residential facility in one of those communities.

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Locating the facility where the kids and families live brings all the resources that come with it to where the problems originate, said Slater. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“Break that cycle,” she said.

Instead, by locating in rural and remote Isle of Wight, the youth will serve their time where they receive a good deal of support, but are then returned to disenfranchised communities where it is lacking, she said. 

If the state is going to build a small facility based on a new model of juvenile rehabilitation, why not put it in the place where it’s most needed, said Slater.

The lives of kids shouldn’t rest on where a locality has offered land, she said.  

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice did not respond to a request for comment. 

Isle of Wight County last year offered the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice 20 acres and $500,000 for utilities to locate a new 60-bed residential facility on county-owned property two miles south of Route 460 along Route 258. 

The county purchased the land about 10 years ago as part of its intermodal park, but so far, there hasn’t been an interest by business to locate there. Missing from the site is municipal water and sewer — which would be provided if the state locates its facility there — along with 240 jobs. 

There has been strong public opposition to the project — predominantly among residents of Windsor and southern Isle of Wight County. The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to transfer the land, but the details of that transfer are still being worked out. If a consensus between the county and state is not reached, the deal could fall through. 

Further discussion is expected at Thursday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, to be held at the Windsor Town Center.  {/mprestriction}