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Youth Justice and Education Center Opens With Expanded Offerings for Detained Juveniles

Katie Riordan

Shelby County leaders marked the opening of the new Youth Justice and Education Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

Officials say the upgraded multi-million dollar facility is needed to provide detained juveniles with more specialized programs and opportunities. The former downtown detention center on Adams Ave. was more confined, dated and lacked natural light.

The new 146-bed center – located in Oakhaven in southeast Memphis - began housing young people about three months ago. The county spent $28 million dollars to renovate the facility, which includes nine classrooms and spaces for recreational and therapeutic activities.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office runs the location, but the Memphis-Shelby County Schools District oversees the Hope Academy inside where children are able to attend classes.

Officials emphasize that the facility’s goal is to help youth accused of committing criminal acts chart a new course by offering support and guidance.

“When they’re here, we see the softer side of them,” says Takietha Tuggle, the assistant chief at the center. “We see the true child side of them. They’re able to let go of some of the trauma that they may have coming into the site.”

The facility also includes a gymnasium, a commercial kitchen and vocational training.

Katie is a part-time WKNO contributor. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org