Division lawyer Steve Compton said the state has openly agreed with Mountain State Justice that Salem's policies need to change, and the lawsuit has been a joint effort by both parties to put that change into effect.
But there are still some unanswered questions, he said. For one, it's not clear whether the judge can order the facility to close.
"If it makes sense, and it's the right thing to do, we'll do it," he said. "I don't believe necessarily that the judge has the authority to do it. It doesn't mean we won't."
The fate of the juveniles and the staff currently at the center also appears in limbo.
The parties say the center's current work force most likely would not be laid off, although some might be relocated to other facilities around the state. The parties also suggested that the center itself could be used as temporary housing for adult prisoners.
DeMuro, in his audit of the facility, suggested that the state move toward community corrections programs, or foster-care programs geared toward children with behavioral disorders.
DeMuro said his findings are based on a study released last year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which said juvenile facilities have 72 percent recidivism rates and waste billions of taxpayer dollars every year.
The study highlights six alternatives to the traditional system, including systems that focus heavily on individual therapy and replacing large juvenile prisons with smaller regional prisons for violent offenders.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.