NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Plans are underway to build a new 14-acre campus dedicated to keeping minors out of jail and on the path to success in Nashville.
According to Davidson County Juvenile Court, there were approximately 1,300 arrests for juvenile delinquency in 2021, a decrease of 15% from 2020 and a decrease of nearly 72% from 2013.
News 2 asked Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway if the drop in arrests meant youth crime was actually down and she said it was because they used partnerships with entities like schools. Metro to prevent criminal activity in the first place.
“It strengthens their ability to be rehabilitated and restored within the school system without being suspended, without being expelled, and just being able to provide more to our students on that end of the spectrum as well,” Calloway said. “All of these things working together means youth crime is definitely down in Davidson County.”
Judge Calloway said their new campus will build on the restorative justice practices they have been using for years. It will be called the “Nashville Youth Campus for Empowerment”. They put it on a 14-acre property off Brick Church Pike on the former site of the Al Menah Shrine.
Juvenile Court Clerk Lonnell Matthews, Jr. has been active in the project and said the new location is central enough for all Davidson County residents and they don’t want to be downtown.
“It was really important to us to not only have a new facility large enough to accommodate our operations, but also to have potential for growth and expansion as Nashville and the population continues to grow and expand. expand here,” Matthews said. “And, if you’re in the heart of downtown, you have to pay for parking. And that is something that is a deterrent or a burden, an additional obstacle for families and children who have to use our services.
Judge Calloway said that as Nashville grew over the years, so did they, and they ran out of space in the current facility in East Nashville. It was opened in 1994 and she said there were also structural issues with things like plumbing and sewers hampering their efforts.
In addition to serving as the Davidson County Juvenile Court headquarters and an interim housing facility, the NYCE campus will house resources and agencies that can provide services to families in need. She said the project was expected to cost around $130 million, but they are working with architects to eliminate some aspects and reduce that amount.
“I hope the smallest part of the facility we have would be the detention center, that we don’t spend a lot of money on the detention side, because that’s not what we want to spend our time on. money,” Calloway said. “We want to spend our money on the prevention side, to make sure that we provide excellent services so that our service providers are there on campus with us.”
The new campus will include a 24-hour assessment center that he hopes will support youth in crisis, a safe clearinghouse for custody visits, and hangout areas for community partners.
“It’s a very manageable problem when it comes to crime. And the reason we can manage, the reason we’re seeing this decline is that it’s manageable,” Matthews said. “We see crimes and things happening in our community on the news every day. But just to put it in perspective, you have over 100,000 young people in this city and you have less than 0.5% making bad decisions. If we all come together with coordination and stay focused, we can really improve their lives. We can make Nashville probably the safest place to live in this country.
Matthews said they are looking at a delay of about three and a half years before they finish building the new juvenile justice campus.