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Juvenile services director seeks guidance on Salem youth home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Juvenile Services Director Dale Humphreys told state legislators Monday he hopes a court hearing later this week will give the division a better idea of how to comply with a court order to make major changes at the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem.

"We're not holding anything back. We're just waiting to see what the judge wants us to do," Humphreys told the legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jails and Corrections.

In December, Circuit Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn issued an order mandating that the division make drastic improvements to the prisonlike Building A, or close the facility and transfer the juveniles housed there.

In the order, Aboulhosn sets a deadline of the conclusion of the 2013 regular session of the Legislature to come up with a remedy or he will issue a follow-up order mandating changes.

"Frankly, I see your strategy as, 'Let's do nothing, and the court will require the Legislature to implement a plan,'" Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas, told Humphreys.

Humphreys said the division should have a better idea of what will be needed to comply with the court order after a hearing Friday in Kanawha Circuit Court.

"We hope we don't put a large fiscal burden on the Legislature," he said.

Humphreys said he agrees with the court that Building A, built a decade ago by the Regional Jail Authority and designed as an adult prison, is not suitable for housing juvenile offenders.

"That was built as a maximum-security prison, and we all know we don't need maximum-security prisons to handle juveniles," he told the interim committee.

Also Monday, Jason Wright, assistant director for community-based services, told legislators the division has expanded its Youth Reporting Centers to 12 centers serving 15 counties.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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