Alexandria, VA

Faced with declining utilization, the City of Alexandria is will decide whether or not to shutter the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.

The facility, located at 200 S. Whiting Street, is a 70-bed detention center that takes in teenagers from Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington County with a misdemeanor or felony offenses.

Between 2006 and 2019, the detention center has seen steadily declining usage. The number of total bed days — a calculation of the number of juveniles multiplied by the number of days each stays at the facility — has had a 70 percent decline from 20,092 in 2006 to 5,574 in 2019.

A study on what to do with the detention center is currently underway by D.C.-based criminal justice consulting firm The Moss Group.

“[The Moss Group] is evaluating what changes, if any, could be made to the Center to make it more efficient while still meeting the needs of the juvenile population and communities at large,” the City of Alexandria said in a press release, “or whether the Center should be closed due to underutilization, and youth detained in another center in Northern Virginia.”

A fact sheet for the study cites a variety of causes for the decline, including decreased juvenile crime, increased use of alternatives to detention, and legal changes in juvenile court practices. Fairfax County has experienced similar declines, and the study indicated that “further regionalization” could be an answer to the underutilization.

Meanwhile, the facility was budgeted for $5.8 million in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, with $1.5 million contributed from Alexandria. The fact sheet notes that the declining utilization has led to an increase in per diem costs to each jurisdiction.

The three localities that contribute to the detention center are each planning to host community meetings to provide more information about the study and listen to community feedback.

  • City of Falls Church: Thursday, November 14, from 7-8:30 p.m. at City Hall (300 Park Avenue)
  • City of Alexandria: Wednesday, November 20, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Center (1108 Jefferson Street)
  • Arlington County: Thursday, November 21, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street)

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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