DJS to close Industrial Home for Youth as juvenile facility - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WV to close Industrial Home for Youth as juvenile facility

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The Division of Juvenile Services recently announced its intention to close the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem as a juvenile facility and to relocate more than 300 adults there.

This change is part of a larger plan proposed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to reorganize facilities under the Division for Juveniles Services and the Division of Corrections, court documents state.

Tomblin's office, the document continues, will request immediate introduction of legislation to implement the plan and to provide that juvenile service's control of the Industrial Home to end July 1.

Until that time, the 49 juveniles in the facility will be transferred to other facilities based on needs assessments.

The court document states the JM "Chick" Buckbee Juvenile Center will replace the Industrial Home as the maximum and medium security facility for juveniles.

The Donald R. Kuhn Center in Boone County will handle juveniles in the behavioral health unit.

"Respondents' proposed closure of IHY and comprehensive plan will alleviate the cnoditions giving rise to the petition," the respondents' update filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court states. "More importantly, the comprehensive plan will utilize existing facilities more efficiently and enables programming and other resources to be delivered more effectively for juvenile rehabilitation."

After the March 15 status conference  in Kanawha County Circuit Court, Rob Alsop, Tomblin's chief of staff, said officials have been "considering all options" since a Dec. 21 order finding the physical conditions in the Industrial Home's Building A were "counterproductive to the goals of juvenile rehabilitation."

"A decision was made that it was in the best interest and it would solve a lot of problems in the court case and otherwise by changing the vision of the Industrial Home from medium to maximum juvenile center to a light to medium security adult facility in Salem," Alsop told reporters.

At this time, Alsop continued, there is not a suitable location for juveniles in the sex offender unit.

"We plan on working on that," he said. "If true, the entire campus would be turned over as an adult population."

He later added that in the meantime, they are working on keeping them in the sex offender unit while adults would be housed in the main building.

"Other educational buildings could be dual purpose," Alsop explained, noting that when juveniles are not in the facility, the buildings could be used for programming such as parole, recidivism reduction programs and other programs for when adults get out of the facility.

Alsop said there are meetings going on with employees of the Industrial Home to go over the plan and additional discussions will be had through town hall meetings with the community to discuss the plan's effect.

"The governor wants every employee there to be given an opportunity," Alsop said, noting there is a process in place to move employees in juvenile facilities to correction facilities.

Alsop said employees would go through certification and the goal is to provide training at that facility.

 

Mountain State Justice, which represents two residents of the facility, originally filed the emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus and writ of mandamus in the state Supreme Court against Dale Humphreys, director of the Division of Juvenile Services, and David Jones, the superintendent of the West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth.

Also since then, Stephanie Bond, superintendent of the Rubenstein juvenile center, has been appointed as acting director of the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services.

The case later was transferred to Kanawha County Circuit Court for factual development, and Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Omar Aboulhosn was appointed to oversee the case.

The petition alleged several incidents of what petitioners called "repressive policies" including confining the petitioners to their cells for long periods of time, using solitary confinement as punishment, leaving bathroom and shower breaks up to staff's discretion, requiring residents to wear prison uniforms, limiting contact with families and limiting educational and physical exercise opportunities.

A few months ago, Aboulhosn ordered youths under 14 to be relocated from the Industrial Home for Youth to a more "age-appropriate facility."

Aboulhosn commended the plan presented during the March 15 hearing, calling it a "great plan." He said it appears to deal with the concerns of the court.