Town Hall meeting aims to reform juvenile justice system

The conversation sparked Thursday night in Chesapeake about ways to keep troubled kids out of jail.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- The conversation sparked Thursday night in Chesapeake, about ways to keep troubled kids out of jail. Many people believe the community could save millions of dollars on incarceration by adding more programs in the community.

RISE for Youth Coalition Coordinator, Valerie Slater, says the statistic are sad.

"Every year a child is in jail, they are 33% more likely to go back into the juvenile justice system," explained Slater.

Many say jails are not effective and alternative programs can help get adolescents on track for success.

A community member said, "My concern is this, why isn't the department of education doing more?"

The town hall meeting Thursday night allowed everyone to ponder what would best suit our Hampton Roads community.

“I think the programs that we do have need to be multiplied, so they can be as mainstreamed and put out there for everyone to obtain," said Kimberly Williams.

The programs mentioned were, helping families be families, how to manage a budget, and substance treatment.

Slater said, "When you look at your community, what is missing? What services are missing? What is it that young people are getting into that they shouldn't and what can be in place that would be productive and helpful and provide for them an alternative path?"

Congressman Bobby Scott as well as Michael Morton with the Department of Juvenile Justice attended the town hall. Morton says, statistics show after kids get out of a detention center in Virginia, there is more than a 70% chance they will be back within three years.

Morton says major reform is planned.
 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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