Neighbors speak out over juvenile detention center possibility in Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The Department of Juvenile Justice says they're planning to bring a juvenile detention center to Hampton Roads, but some people were against the idea at a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

Mother Kimberly Williams said, "More than anything I understand that confinement or locking people away definitely is not an actual solution. It may halt a problem immediately, but long term solutions that's definitely not the way to go."

The nearest juvenile correctional center is in Chesterfield County outside of Richmond. Congressman Bobby Scott attended the town hall meeting and said youth incarceration is off the charts.

The RISE for Youth Coalition added the cost to build one is astronomical.

"It's over $171,000 a year to incarcerate a youth for one year in juvenile prison," said coalition coordinator, Kimberly Williams.

However the Department of Juvenile Justice is planning to rebuild the youth justice system as over 70% of juveniles are repeat offenders. They're looking to add more programming at the detention center, including effective practices and community supervision.

Michael Morton with the department said, "It tries to help teach new ways of thinking for juveniles so they can avoid risking situations."

Programming wasn't the only thing parents voiced their concerns about.

They asked about families having more access to their children while behind bars.

The Department of Juvenile Justice says they're working to provide free transportation to the detention center.

"This is unheard of before last year," added Morton. "So this is a major project that DDJ has."

The department hopes the initiatives can make the juvenile systems more effective for children behind bars.

They did not discuss where in Chesapeake it would be built or a timeline for the project.