Local News

Audit Uncovers Problems With State Juvenile Facilities

Posted May 7, 2003 5:33 a.m. EDT

— State Auditor Ralph Campbell released a report Wednesday on the physicial conditions of the facilities that house the state's juvenile offenders. In a press conference, Campbell called the conditions "deplorable."

Campbell said officials with the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center in Cabarrus County are using buildings that have been abandoned or condemned. He also said the Swannanoa Youth Development Center near Asheville has poor visibility and line-of-sight in the building's hallways. The Samarkand Youth Center in Moore County has damaged windows.

Campbell said two of the youth centers do not have security fences or use of security equipment. Campbell suggests most of the facilities are more than 60 years old and are not safe for juveniles and the staff.

"We are seeing an increase in the violence of offenders that are being recommended to those facilities, and we are seeing them in facilities that certainly are not conducive, safe for either the juvenile offender or the employee," Campbell said.

"We've known about the problems in these facilities for years," said Rep. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe.

George Sweat, secretary of the

state's Department of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention

, issued a response after the press conference, saying he welcomes the audit and welcomes the state's legislature to work with them and developing a model in improving juvenile facilities.

Campbell said five buildings need to be replaced and the replacement costs could run up to $90 million.

Officials claim the state spends about $61,000 for each juvenile, compared to $6,600 per public school student. Campbell's audit also examined staffing and how they report alleged abuse at the facilities.