Juvenile Assessment Center in Greenville
A new dual-purpose, $1.9 million juvenile facility opens to the public Monday in Greenville County. The facility will serve two separate purposes: provide support and services for troubled youths, and house juveniles up to age 16 who have been charged with a crime between the date of arrest and court date.
"When juveniles enter into the system, they normally enter through handcuffs with law enforcement. We'd love for people to identify the children that are on the verge of entering on the other side and send them to us," says Tomiko Williams, Greenville County's director within the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
What's unique about this facility is that it will house so many different government agencies under one roof. "There will be assessments for drug and alcohol here, assessments for mental health, and a DSS [Department of Social Services] case worker.....so basically a one-stop shop," says Williams.
State officials within those departments hope that having a place for parents to go when they have a child who is at-risk for a life of crime can help keep those kids from going down the wrong path.
"We can offer these parents, these children, a place to go to offer resources, and help, and counseling, so that they never have to enter next door," said Margaret Barber, director of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The other side of the facility is a new juvenile detention center, with separate areas for young men and women. It's fully renovated and staffed with 34 officers who have been specially trained to deal with juveniles.
"We're going to try to teach them to make good decisions, good behavior, put them on what I call the right path," said Major John Vandermosten, deputy director of the Greenville County Department of Public Safety. "Our desire to prevent them from being in our adult detention facility."
By: Evan Donovan
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