Alexandria City Council Approves Funding for Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center Amidst Increasing Usage

The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center in Alexandria has received unanimous approval from the City Council to secure funding of $657,629 for its continued operations. However, the decision was not met with enthusiasm from the council members, indicating their concerns about the situation.

Over the past year, there has been a significant rise in the utilization of the detention center, prompting the center’s management to explore new initiatives. In collaboration with the National Capital Treatment & Recovery program, the center seeks to introduce a substance abuse recovery program to address the dramatic increase in youth struggling with addiction.

Johnitha McNair, the executive director of the detention center, conveyed to the council that approximately 50% of the children admitted have experimented with fentanyl, highlighting the urgent need for addiction and withdrawal treatment services. The rehabilitation of an unused portion of the facility is also being considered for potential future use.

The detention center’s fate has been uncertain, with the City Council earmarking funds into a reserve account while waiting for recommendations from city staff to optimize capacity within the region. The goal is to explore alternative uses for the physical plant capacity and develop new regional partnerships for facility utilization and staffing.

Mike Mackey, director of the city’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Service unit, informed the council that the facility had reached its maximum capacity of 46 youth in the past year. He also reported a 66% increase in detention-eligible cases involving Alexandria youth and a 100% increase for Arlington youth. These statistics underline the pressing need for enhanced capacity and resources.

While approving the funds, Mayor Justin Wilson expressed disappointment at the lack of concrete proposals for new programs and services from Earl Conklin, chair of the detention center’s commission. Wilson affirmed that the aim was not to shutter the facility but rather to optimize its capacity and explore possibilities for consolidation or repurposing.

The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center is overseen by the Juvenile Detention Commission, consisting of members from Arlington, Falls Church, and Alexandria. The facility has seen a significant decrease in the number of juveniles over the years, leading to a reduction in the number of beds available. However, recent trends indicate a resurgence in demand for its services.

Deputy City Manager Yon Lambert assured the council that proposed programming changes would be presented in the coming months, allowing for evaluation and consideration. Moreover, an assessment report of the detention center will be submitted to the General Assembly in October, providing an opportunity for additional budgetary requests. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson emphasized the significance of keeping the facility operational, given the recent increase in numbers.

In conclusion, the Alexandria City Council’s unanimous approval of the funding underscores the urgent need to address the growing utilization of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center. While considering various alternatives to optimize capacity and enhance services, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being and rehabilitation of the youth involved.

FAQ:

1. What is the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center?
The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center is a facility in Alexandria that detains and provides services for young individuals involved in the justice system.

2. What funding has been approved for the center?
The City Council has approved funding of $657,629 for the continued operations of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.

3. What is the concern of the council members regarding the funding approval?
The council members expressed concerns about the situation and did not show enthusiasm for the funding approval.

4. Why does the detention center seek to introduce a substance abuse recovery program?
There has been a significant increase in youth struggling with addiction, with approximately 50% of the children admitted to the center having experimented with fentanyl. Therefore, there is an urgent need for addiction and withdrawal treatment services.

5. Has the detention center reached its maximum capacity?
Yes, the facility reached its maximum capacity of 46 youth in the past year.

6. What is the goal of the City Council regarding the detention center?
The goal is to explore alternative uses for the physical plant capacity, develop new regional partnerships for facility utilization and staffing, and optimize the center’s capacity.

7. What is the role of the Juvenile Detention Commission?
The Juvenile Detention Commission oversees the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and consists of members from Arlington, Falls Church, and Alexandria.

Key terms/jargon:

1. Detention-eligible cases: Cases involving youth that meet the criteria for being detained in a juvenile detention center.

2. Rehabilitation: The process of restoring or improving the well-being and skills of individuals, in this case, the youth involved in the justice system.

Related links:
City of Alexandria
Arlington County
City of Falls Church