Juvenile Admissions are Steadily Decreasing in Albemarle County
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - More children are avoiding legal trouble across Virginia. Juvenile crime statistics show a decline across central Virginia and that includes the number of cases entering the Blue Ridge Detention Center in Albemarle County.
The number of juveniles has been decreasing since 2002. That's because more statewide efforts have been put into effect and crimes are processed in a new way.
"We opened in 2002 and since that time our population - or number of admissions - every year has steadily declined, said Cathy Roessler, director of the Blue Ridge Detention Center.
The decline in juvenile numbers can be attributed to how cases are handled through the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and additional resources put in place throughout the state before the last option of heading to lock up.
"I think the biggest change would be that since 2002 we've been using what's called the detention assessment instrument. You'll hear people, staff, refer to it as the DAI so if we're involved with a child who is at risk of being detained that the instrument we use to help guide that decision,” said Martha Carroll, 16th District Court Services Unit representative.
The DJJ also has a long-standing partnership with the city of Charlottesville to provide electronic monitoring services and supervision.
“Children who might rise to the level of being detained but they feel like they can be served in their homes or with other family members then we might reach out to community attention and have them be attached to an electronic monitor," Carroll said.
If teens do get sent to a detention center, there are ways to help them cope with being behind bars.
"We have a great garden area with a pergola where our therapist does a lot of great work with our kids and when visitors come they can use that space as well,” said Roessler.
The Blue Ridge Detention Center also has a community placement program for the past five years to treat juveniles in-house instead of sending them to a correctional center.