Advocates call for a Juvenile Justice Center in Montgomery County

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 20:12:32-04

CLARSKVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — More teens are committing crimes in the Clarksville area, but there's nowhere to send them. Deputies are forced to transport the juveniles to a detention facility in Columbia.

On Monday, Montgomery County Commissioners approved $50,000 to go towards a study that would analyze the current process. Commissioner Lisa Prichard is advocating for juvenile justice reform in the county.

"Because we have to farm our kids out to another county for detention, it puts a hardship on the family, it puts a hardship on the child, they don't get all the services that they need to have, or that we can provide, or that the court mandates," Prichard said.

Prichard said 74 juveniles in the county were charged with crimes in June. Many of them were transported more than 70 miles away to a holding facility in Maury County that has a contract with the county.

"It becomes an expense as well, it becomes wear and tear on our vehicles," Prichard said, "It's more like a lose/lose situation."

As a former deputy sheriff, she said juvenile crime is a growing issue. As more people move to the area, more teens are getting in trouble.

"We've got to get a handle on the variety of crime that we have before it becomes unmanageable," Prichard said.

It's against the law to put juveniles in jail next to adult offenders.

"If we can release them to custodial parents, or someone in that nature, then we do," Prichard said.

For now, she's going to keep fighting for some type of detention facility. Her dream is for teens to have a center attached to it where they can be rehabilitated too.

"I believe that it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe we don't need to farm our children out elsewhere, we need to be the village to raise our children," Prichard said.

Next, a bid will go out so a consultant can conduct the study.