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Judge Approves Changes At Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Feb 2012 05:42pm | comments
A lawyer holds a sample of the signs that will hang at Henley Young.

Conditions for adolescent offenders could soon improve at Mississippi's largest youth detention center under an agreement approved by a federal judge. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the deal between juvenile justice advocates and Hinds County targets treatment of offenders at the Henley Young Juvenile Justice Center.

The settlement stems from a 2011 lawsuit that claimed harsh conditions at Henley Young violated the constitutional rights of the children held there.

The Southern Poverty law Center filed the suit and SPLC Lawyer Corrie Cockrell says the 25-page agreement will lead to a improvement in the treatment of inmates at the detention center.

"That addresses everything from intake to structure programming for children who have to remain at the facility for longer periods of time. Children will receive mental health services, counseling services and rehabilitate services that will be beneficial to all of the children who are at the facility and who will have to come to the facility in the future," Cockrell said.

The Henley Young Juvenile Justice Center is located in an industrial area in south Jackson.

It has a maximum capacity of 84 inmates but hundreds of teens who have low level violations can cycle through the facility every year.

One of the biggest changes, according to Hinds County Lawyer Lisa Ross, is the inclusion of an independent arbiter who will come in and monitor conditions at the facility.

Still, Ross says the settlement is not an admission of any prior problems at Henley Young.

"I think there is room for improvement. And certainly we want to make sure, the county wants to make sure, that the constitutional rights of children are being protected. And we also want to get rid of the allegations that the children are being deprived of their constitutional rights. So that is why we have been working hard on this agreement," Ross said.

The settlement will be posted in Henley Young for the next three weeks to give inmates there a chance to review it and make any objections.

Barring that, the judge will finalize the deal in late March.



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