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RISE for Youth Statement on Funding for New Youth Prison

In response to Governor Northam’s signing a two-year budget which does not include funding for construction on the existing Beaumont and Bon Air facility sites but does include funding for a new 60-bed youth prison, Valerie Slater, RISE for Youth Coalition Coordinator, issued the following statement:

“By making our voices heard through protests, research, and community engagement, the community successfully advocated against the allocation of funds in this biennial budget to build a new youth prison on the land of the shuttered Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center and ensured the Bon Air property is excluded from further consideration as the search for a Central Virginia secure care facility location continues. But interrupting new prison construction plans is only half the battle. To best support at-risk youth, Virginia must reinvest some of the proceeds from selling the Bon Air property to continue building a full range of community-based alternatives, from counseling and diversion to job training and youth development. RISE will continue advocating for small secure care facilities to be integrated into complete continuums of care that wrap around impacted communities, families and youth.”

“There is more work to do in the Hampton Roads region as well. The state’s decision to allocate funds for a new 60-bed facility in Isle of Wright, unnecessarily far away from the communities committed young people in the region are from, is a setback in Virginia’s juvenile justice transformation. However, RISE for Youth is eager to work with the Department of General Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice to ensure the facility is therapeutic and accessible to families so they are part of their young person’s rehabilitative process. Large youth prisons are part of an outdated and ineffective model. RISE for Youth will continue to engage legislators and the administration to ensure the voices of the community and impacted youth are included in the decision-making process of Virginia’s continued juvenile justice system transformation.”

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