Thursday, October 25th, 2012

For the fourth year in a row, the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center was cited as a “model” for similar facilities across the state, according to the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission.

The commission is responsible for regulating juvenile detention facilities in the state, and calls Morris County’s facility “professional in every respect.”

The comments were shared by the Morris County Freeholder Liaison John Murphy during the freeholder work session Oct. 24, following several programmatic evaluation visits to the detention center in September and October by the commission’s Compliance Monitoring Unit.

The monitoring visit included a review of the center’s records, policies and procedures and interviews with administrative, nursing, social services and child care staff as well as residents of the facility.

The Monitoring Unit also reviewed 14 select program areas for compliance with the state’s Manual of Standards for Juvenile Detention Facilities, including intake and admission procedures, social services, visiting, staff training, resident grievance procedures, hygiene procedures and emergency evacuation drills.

All 14 program areas were found to be in compliance with the Manual of Standards for the fourth straight year, a major accomplishment for the facility, Murphy said. The Juvenile Detention Center provides secure, short term care and custody pending court action to juveniles who are accused of committing a criminal violation or who have been sentenced to the facility by the Family Court for a maximum of 60 days.

Under shared services agreements, juveniles from Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon counties are housed at the facility along with juveniles from Morris County.

Murphy also reported that the Center was cited for the daily educational instruction, as well as for a variety of activities including Project Phoenix, a program to discourage gang involvement; a story telling group designed to promote creative thinking; and an Equine Assisted Learning Program that uses horses to assist in the residents’ personal growth and life skill learning.

“The staff and administration at the Juvenile Detention Center are to be commended for their belief that providing a safe environment with structure and discipline focused on education and respect will have a positive impact on the juveniles we encounter,” said Freeholder Director William Chegwidden.

The Monitoring Unit also gave high marks to the Juvenile Detention Center’s administration and staff for operating an “excellent program” and a “well-operated facility.”

Freeholder Murphy commended the staff of the Center and also recognized the many community-based programs and services that enrich the lives of the residents.

“We are proud of achieving four straight years of commendation for this critical service,” Murphy said.