NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Davidson County is one step closer to getting a brand new juvenile justice center. Metro recently approved funding for what will be known as the Nashville Youth Campus for Empowerment.
“It’s not just a court building. There are a whole lot of different things that we are going to be doing,” said Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge, Sheila Calloway. “And a lot of services and things that we can plug into our youth and their families for just improving their lives and empowering them.”
Calloway said the new facility, which is currently in the design phase, will have a 24-hour assessment center for juveniles who run away from home, leave school without permission, or violate curfew. If that child cannot immediately go back to the parents, the new facility will also have a respite center where they can stay the night.
The new building will also have a space for parents at risk of losing custody of their newborn baby to learn parenting skills. And for parents who are separated and have a difficult time following custody rules, this facility will also have a space to safely exchange the child from one parent to another.
“What we do now for parents who can’t get along to exchange their children, we send them to the police department. And we say, go to the police and exchange your child there. That’s absolutely traumatic for the child. And that’s not what needs to happen. We want to remove that trauma and provide a safe place for them to do that exchange,” said Calloway.
The current juvenile justice center was built in 1994 to house one judge and three magistrates. Calloway said that space has gotten tighter over the years. Support services like CASA, even some courtroom staff, have had to find office space off campus.
“Over years, this space has outgrown its use. Now, instead of having one elected judge and three magistrates, we have nine magistrates total. So there’s 10 of us total, judicial officers, and we all need court rooms,” said Calloway.
News 2 looks at the community consequences of the growing number of kids committing crimes and new ideas about solutions with our special reports, Juvenile Crime.