MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - With violence on the rise in Charlotte neighborhoods, many point their fingers at teens. Now, however, there’s hope a new facility will help them learn from their negative actions.
The Mecklenburg County North Detention Center has been transformed into a Juvenile Detention Center.
The new facility means juveniles won’t have to be in the same jail as adults, and won’t have to stay at another juvenile jail in another county.
Sheriff Garry McFadden is hoping the arrangement will give the youth the support they need to get their lives back on track.
“These young people are going to get the care and resources that they probably never had,” McFadden said Tuesday afternoon. “We're going to be mentoring them so they don't go back out and commit other crimes. I think that, in itself, should make the taxpayers happy.”
The jail will have room for 72 juvenile inmates. As of Tuesday night, 12 are staying there. They’ll have access to their family, and take school classes while they wait for their trial to start.
In the past, some youth would stay in jails outside Mecklenburg County. Sheriff McFadden believes the family aspect and visitation is important.
“I was first arrested when I was 16,” 21-year-old Devario Hoover told FOX 46.
He agrees that family visitation is important for youth inmates.
“That's what made it easy for me,” he said. “That's what makes your time easier, you being able to keep in contact with people on the outside.”
Hoover has been arrested a number of times as a teen, and has stayed in the North Detention Center before its transition to a juvenile center.
“They want to dedicate the whole jail to juvenile,” he said. “That just shows that 16 [and] 17 year olds are getting in a lot more trouble.”
“Raise the Age” legislation, which now prevents 16 and 17-year-olds who commit crimes from being charged as adults, will likely impact the number of juveniles in jail too.
“Studies show recidivism is much higher if you don't treat them differently,” said Allen Brotherton, partner at Knox Brotherton Knox & Godfrey.
Brotherton is optimistic the juvenile-only jail is for the better.
“Hopefully they'll still be able to do things more quickly for juveniles,” he said, “like they've been able to do in the past even with the increased numbers.”