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ICYMI: DJJ Considering Regional Facilities To House South Carolina's Youthful Offenders 



From The Post and Courier


Juvenile Justice Department Considering Regional Facilities To House South Carolina's Youthful Offenders
Maya Prabhu
July 20, 2017

"State officials in charge of holding the state's youthful offenders are looking into creating housing facilities across the state instead of them all being held in Columbia.

"Studies show that when a young person serving a sentence in a juvenile facility has regular visits from family, they are less likely to commit another crime in the future, Department of Juvenile Justice Acting Director Freddie Pough said Wednesday.

"While the plans are in the beginning stages, Pough told Gov. Henry McMaster the state is well positioned to open housing facilities in South Carolina's three evaluations centers located in Union, Columbia and Ridgeville.

"Each of those facilities currently house 100 young offenders while they are evaluated before being released. If they become long-term housing, juveniles would only travel to Columbia to be evaluated before being sent to serve their sentence at a facility near their home.

"'There are so many things that would be improved, from family involvement to long-term outcomes for these youth (and) regional job placement,' Pough said

"McMaster said Pough's desire to regionalize long-term housing for youthful offenders was the type of innovation "that makes a lot of sense."

"'What Director Pough has done is terrific and this is another first in the nation,' he said. 'South Carolina is leading the way again and I think it's going to have a great impact not only here but the rest of the country.'

"DJJ spokesman Patrick Montgomery said many factors will play into regionalizing the facilities, including a potential bill in the Legislature that would raise the age of those sent to juvenile facilities from 17 to 18, along with size and space considerations.

"There currently are 115 youthful offenders held at the Broad River Road Complex, Montgomery said.

"Another benefit, Pough said, would be the types of vocational programs offered to young people serving time with DJJ. Pough said he hopes to work with businesses near the regional facilities so that he or she could do work for those companies during their sentence.

"'We want to make (vocational services) mirror the community,' he said. 'So if there's a strong agricultural force there, then that's the kind of vocational services we want to offer.'

"Pough said he is working to determine what it would cost to house juvenile inmates across the state, but does expect to ask for money to hire more staff and officers. McMaster said he expects to include Pough's request in his budget request next year."