Cost-Saving Shutdown of Youth Detention Centers in Tennessee Leads to Instant Rise in Violence in Remaining Centers
An effort to save money in Tennessee’s juvenile detention system has cost dearly in terms of violence.
State officials in July decided to close two detention centers housing minors in order to reduce the Department of Children’s Services’ budget.
The closure meant transferring youths to the remaining centers, three of which have experienced sharp increases in violence over the past three months. At one facility, police were called out nearly 50 times—amounting to more calls between July and September than were made in the entire past two years.
Opponents of the detention closures warned that the move was dangerous, since one of the shuttered facilities, the Taft Youth Development Center, housed some of the most violent juveniles in the system.
“This was our worst fear,” Representative Cameron Sexton (R), who fought the closures, told The Tennessean.
“Taft was for the worst of the worst,” Sexton said. “They got the help they needed there. And we didn’t want Taft kids who were 17 or 18 or 19 put in an environment with 13-year-olds and in a place that was not equipped to handle them. I fear that’s what has happened.”
To Learn More:
Youth Violence Soars in Months After DCS Shuts 2 Detention Centers (by Anita Wadhwani and Brian Haas, The Tennessean)
DCS Struggles To Answer Child Abuse Hotline Calls (by Tony Gonzalez, The Tennessean)
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