Localities to Host Virtual Community Meeting with Authors of Northern

Published on October 21, 2020

A comprehensive analysis of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, commissioned by Arlington County and the Cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, will be presented at a virtual community meeting on November 5, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The meeting link will be available on the study webpage. The center is located in Alexandria and operated by a regional commission appointed by the governing bodies of the three localities. 

The study by The Moss Group, an independent criminal justice consulting firm, was also presented at a joint meeting of the Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council on October 19. The Board and Council members reviewed the report in detail, discussed additional alternatives, and asked staff to synthesize the discussion's direction and prepare a set of recommendations for next steps. At the upcoming community meeting, The Moss Group will provide a detailed presentation on the report and attendees will be able to ask the consultants written questions about the report.  

Juvenile incarceration rates across the nation have declined over the last decade, including in the three jurisdictions that use the center. The Moss Group conducted the study to explore options to further regionalize detention services and to determine potential changes to make the center more efficient, while still meeting the needs of the juvenile population and communities at large.  

Report Recommendations  

The Moss Group evaluated the two primary options. The first option — purchasing juvenile detention services from another jurisdiction in the region — was not viable due to lack of interest or capacity issuesThe second option was to determine strategies for operating the center with greater efficiency and effectiveness. This option also would ensure juveniles remain close to their home communities and services. These recommended strategies included: 

  • Explore co-locating community-based programs and services such as mental health treatment, substance abuse services, youth mentoring and specialized placement programs at the facility. These could help offset current operating costs by putting underutilized space to more effective use, generating additional revenue, and increasing positive outcomes for youth and families. 

  • Implement staff changes, including reductions, based on the report's staffing analysis. 

  • In addition to looking at the facility's short and long-term capital needs, assess the current facility layout and develop a design more in line with both a home-like detention setting and service co-location. 

  • Consider developing a formal relationship with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to specifically participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. 

Staff from each jurisdiction and commission members will develop a plan to follow up and report back on the recommendations. 

Methodology & Engagement  

In addition to in-depth analysis of the center's operations, The Moss Group held group and individual focus groups, conducted interviews with stakeholders, and held three community meeting last fall. They also conducted an online survey and received hundreds of responses. 

For more background information about the study and to view the full report, visit the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center Study page.