Status Update on Juvenile Justice Transformation

January 18, 2018

Andy Block, Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), spoke before the Senate Finance Public Safety Subcommittee on January 17 about DJJ Transformation and related budget requests.

In 2016, the Senate Finance Committee authorized DJJ to maintain and reinvest savings for state treatment programs and alternative placements, close the Beaumont facility, establish a task force on juvenile correctional centers, and capital allocation. The capital authorization provided for building two smaller units in Central Virginia and Hampton Roads to replace the Bon Air facility. Funding was approved for the design and construction of the Chesapeake facility, planning for the Central Virginia facility, and the additional 152 beds for each facility.

DJJ returned $16.1 million for the Bon Air projects to offset the cost of the two proposed facilities. DJJ also established nine Community Placement Programs with 89 beds, 13 detention centers with re-entry programs, and 124 direct service providers (including 26 out-of-home operations). With the new service delivery model, AMI Kids and Evidence-Based Associates provide services to the Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Western regions of the Commonwealth. In 2017, only two jurisdictions had access to these services compared to over 100 jurisdictions in 2018. To date, almost 1,000 youths have been referred to these services.

As of January 2018, the juvenile correctional center population decreased 68 percent since 2013, with 212 juveniles in correctional facilities and 127 in alternative placements. About 10 juveniles are in residential placements, and DJJ foresees this number growing with moving to the Community Treatment Model. Family engagement continues to grow with video visitation, DJJ transportation, and revised visitation procedures. Director Block highlighted the positive impact the Student Government Association has had on juvenile leadership development and staff-juvenile interactions.

Costs incurred for workers compensation decreased from over $1.4 million in 2015 to $423,357 in 2017. Staff grievances were down from 99 in 2013 to 30 in 2017. And, the rate of serious incident reports (SIRs) per youth decreased from a rate of 4.3 Aggressive SIRs and 2.4 Use of Force SIRs in 2016 to 2.8 Aggressive SIRs and 1.3 Use of Force SIRs in 2018. It’s too early to tell how the DJJ Transformation impacted recidivism rates, but the Department is seeing reductions in re-arrest rates at 52.4 percent in 2015 and 48.2 percent in 2016.

In 2018, plans for the Chesapeake facility are at a crossroads because the City declined to transfer land. Director Block proposed the county-owned 60 bed facility offered by Isle of Wight or the Department of Corrections-owned Saint Brides facility. The DJJ-preferred facility is Isle of Wight, to satisfy the Hampton Roads location needs. Costs associated with this project over the original Chesapeake facility look to be either an increase of $900,000 or $2.7 million pending the final agreement. DJJ also asked for authorization to design and construct the new facility on the Bon Air campus.

Ultimately, DJJ will provide different funding proposals to the Subcommittee for the new facility and/or the Bon Air expansion, which together totals to about $64 million.

To view Director Block’s presentation, please click here.

VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere

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