East Tennessee juvenile center reported record-low intake last year

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JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee — A juvenile detention facility in East Tennessee had the lowest number of intakes last year in its 27-year history.

The Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/1tWp63x) reports 463 youth went through the Upper East Tennessee Regional Juvenile Detention Center in 2013. That's compared to a high of 1,100 youths who went through the center in the year 2000.

Center Director Ralph Sparks said that's because there are several alternatives now to locking up wayward teens, and state law requires judges to use the least restrictive measure.

"There are more treatment programs for them now," said Sparks.

Johnson City Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Green said finds electronic monitoring is among the most effective tools she uses instead of locking teens up.

If electronic monitoring doesn't work for a specific situation, she says there are several other options.

"We are trying to reduce the number of youth placed in the detention center. If they are charged with an offense during the day, we might have the officer just bring them on down here to court and we can determine if they can be released to a parent . we can immediately make a referral to family support services with the Department of Children's Services to see if there's anything in the home we can put in place — services that 10 or even five years ago we didn't have," she said.

The Detention Center is a collaborative project among seven counties: Washington, Sullivan, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Hawkins and Greene.


Information from: Johnson City Press, http://www.johnsoncitypress.com

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