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Juvenile justice group broadens focus in WV

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CHARLESTON, WV (AP) — A commission studying West Virginia's juvenile justice system says it will broaden its focus to look at all out-of-home placements for troubled kids, not just detention centers.

The Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission announced Friday it also wants to study and improve services for juveniles to help them prepare for a successful re-entry to society.

That includes ensuring they have legal representation and support services.

State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman chairs the commission.

She says the National Center for Youth in Custody and the American Bar Association have urged all states to develop plans to monitor juvenile programs and ensure they comply with national standards.

West Virginia appointed Cindy Largent-Hill to oversee that task, and her work will also now expand to include those discharge services for young offenders.

The commission was formed in 2011 to look at the Division of Juvenile Services' operations plan, and programs at the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem and the Kenneth "Honey" Rubenstein Center in Davis.

In March, state officials announced they were converting Salem to an adult prison, a plan that addresses concerns the conditions were too harsh for young offenders while also alleviating the overcrowding of jails and prisons.

About 50 juveniles housed at Salem were moved to other state-run facilities. Set to move in are some 300 minimum- to medium-security inmates who have been sentenced to prison but are serving their sentences in regional jails because no beds are available.

The transformation was supposed to be accomplished by this coming Monday.

Officials with the Division of Corrections couldn't immediately comment Friday, but staff members said they were at the Salem facility.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press