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Department of Public Safety To Open Juvenile Justice Center To Serve 28 WNC Counties

Officials with the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice today during an open house offered community leaders and elected officials their first view of the Western Area Multipurpose Juvenile Crisis and Assessment Center in Asheville.

This nine-bed center, operated through a public-private partnership with the Methodist Home for Children, will provide crisis intervention, assessment and service planning for adjudicated youth who require a temporary out-of-home placement to stabilize their behaviors.

Located in the renovated former Buncombe Juvenile Detention Center, the center – one of three crisis and assessment centers to open within the past year in North Carolina – will begin serving juveniles from the 28 western counties in mid-September.

“Like our other centers, this center offers quick access to temporary crisis care, and assessment services to match the children with the treatment or services they need,” said W. David Guice, Commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. “As part of our Juvenile Strategic Facilities Plan and in response to the latest research, our goal is to reserve detention for those juveniles who truly present a threat to the public or to themselves. These centers offer an alternative to detention for cases where we see a child and family may be in crisis, but where detention is not the correct answer.”

The Asheville center is set apart from the others with its multipurpose mission. “Four of the nine beds will serve secure-custody youth,” said William Lassiter, deputy commissioner for Juvenile Justice. “Time spent transporting youth under secure custody orders to and from detention and court hearings in western North Carolina skyrocketed following the 2013 closure of the Buncombe Juvenile Detention Center. The closest detention center is in Taylorsville, a one-way trip of four hours from some parts of this area. This new center in Buncombe County will help reduce time spent on the road, while keeping juveniles closer to home to encourage family engagement.”

The renovation of the former Buncombe Juvenile Detention Center began in March 2015 and was completed just more than a year later at a cost of approximately $1.44 million. Masters Gentry Architects, based in Asheville, designed the building; the DPS Central Engineering team led the project, and the DPS Inmate Construction Program was heavily involved in the building’s renovation.