Group Created with Sketch.

Juvenile detention facilities are closing, undergoing transformations.

This year saw a move to shutter juvenile detention facilities in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie announced the closing of the New Jersey Training School for Boys, also known as Jamesburg, and the Female Secure Care and Intake Facility, known as Hayes.David Matthau, “How New Jersey is Changing its Juvenile Justice System,” New Jersey 101.5, January 9, 2018.

Since New Jersey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative began in 2004, state officials say that the population of New Jersey’s juvenile detention centers has dropped 68 percent.Matthau, “New Jersey is Changing,” 2018. The state plans to replace the large, aging centers with smaller facilities.Advocates for Children of New Jersey, “Christie Announces Closure of Two State Youth Prisons,” January 10, 2018. On April 12, Connecticut closed its last large youth prison, the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.Connecticut Department of Children and Families, “Connecticut Juvenile Training School”; and Josh Kovner, “Connecticut Juvenile Training School Closes,” April 12, 2018. And Wisconsin resolved to close its Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls juvenile prison facility and plans to convert them to an adult prison, though an overhaul of the state’s juvenile corrections system—including replacing the closed prison with several smaller facilities around the state—will take more time and money than originally anticipated, according to new governor Tony Evers.Molly Beck, “Converting Wisconsin Youth Prison to Facility for Adults to Cost $14.2 Million,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 18, 2018; and Molly Beck, “More Time and Money Likely Needed to Overhaul Wisconsin’s Troubled Juvenile Correctional System,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 28, 2018.

With more large youth prisons closing their doors, states are left to decide what to do with these institutions. The Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center released a report in June highlighting innovative steps communities are taking to transform the facilities to meet their changing needs, from converting them to community centers to repurposing them as sustainable mixed-income housing developments or technology parks.Hanna Love, Samantha Harvell, Chloe Warnberg, and Julia Durnan, Transforming Closed Youth Prisons: Repurposing Facilities to Meet Community Needs (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, 2018).