Shelby Co. commissioners tour possible site for juvenile detention center

Shelby Co. commissioners tour possible site for juvenile detention center

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County commissioners are considering if local juvenile offenders should be sent to a place you’ve probably never heard of.

Wednesday, leaders toured the Shelby Training Center -- an abandoned detention facility off Lamar Avenue that's owned by a private prison operator.

"It's actually in good shape. It wouldn't take much of an investment to replace HVAC and other things,” said Mark Billingsley, Shelby County Commission Chairman.

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mark Billingsley and a few other commissioners got a tour of the Shelby Training Center, owned by the private prison manager Core Civic. It’s a place being considered for a new juvenile detention center. Billingsley says it has not been in use for 10 years.

"This community has no business building, renovating or otherwise acquiring a new detention facility for children until it addresses the way that it treats children in the justice system,” said Josh Spickler, Just City.

Josh Spickler is the executive director of Just City, a Memphis group fighting for more humane treatment in the justice system.

Just about everyone agrees that the current Juvenile Detention Center is outdated and not suitable anymore.

WMC Action News 5 was invited on the tour by Billingsley, but he received a call from Core Civic after we got inside and we were told we could not take video. So, we never found out if the structure built in 1986 is suitable.

Billingsley thinks it could be.

"It's actually much nicer than where the juveniles are now. Nicer classrooms, much bigger back yard and access to anything you wanted to do from a community garden to outdoor activities."

Billingsley said the tour of the Core Civic building was just a way to let new commissioners get a look at it. He made it clear no decision will be made at this point.

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