NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At the first Metro Council meeting of the term, Nashville councilmembers approved a $2.2 million federal grant to fund a center they hope will reduce the number of juveniles in custody.
The Nashville Assessment Center will be a 24/7 facility for children and youth charged with low level misdemeanors that they can’t be detained for committing.
“A lot of people want us to address crime and when you think about crime, you have to look at the root causes of crime,” said councilmember at large Delishia Porterfield. “We have to make sure to provide [juveniles] with as much support as possible before they get into something that may be a little bit harder for them to get out of.”
Nashville Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway said under the current system, there is a gap in their ability to help these children.
“We’ll have to call a parent in the middle of the night and say, ‘Your child has run away and is in our detention facility. You have to come and pick them up,’ and that causes a lot of angst for a lot of parents, a lot of issues, because usually there’s a reason why a child is running away or not following curfew,” Calloway explained.
The assessment center will be part of the new 14-acre juvenile justice facility being built off Brick Church Pike, which Calloway hopes is complete by 2026.
“I honestly believe that this is going to really help us to reduce the crime levels of youth in our community,” Calloway said.
The types of crimes that would send a juvenile to the assessment center include minor vandalism, property theft worth less than $500, using a fake ID, and running away.
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“These are the ones that are truly, maybe for the first time, stepping out and doing something that takes them a little off the beaten path, and we need to just kind of guide them ever so slightly,” Calloway said.
The ground has not broken yet on the new campus, but Calloway said they are starting the process of demolishing the old building on the property.