Juvenile center gets security improvements
Green couches, carpet and a few new doors may not appear to be the most exciting remodeling improvements.
But when added to the Murphy-Bernardini Regional Juvenile Justice Center, they mean increased security, more meeting rooms and space for a variety of juvenile services.
The center will host an open house from 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
In March, juvenile probation staff moved to the new Bill Lewis Juvenile Probation Office next door to the old juvenile building on the corner of Fifth Street and Saliman Road while the old building, opened in 1979, underwent $330,000 in renovations.
About 1,200 square feet were added to the front of the building, the exterior in the same architectural style as the Lewis building.
More importantly, the additions allow the separation of defendants and witnesses in cases. A new lobby with restrooms for the disabled, seating for about 20 people and a 300-square-foot conference room is separated from juvenile department staff and from a second lobby in front of the courtroom by a secure door.
Previously, visitors were greeted in a small lobby with a just a few seats on 1970s-style furniture. The old lobby, now a secure lobby off the courtroom, has seating for about a dozen people and is separated from juvenile staff by another secure door.
“What was hard before was there was no way to separate parties, and this helps,” said Juvenile Special Master David Nielson.
Before the addition, sheriff’s deputies would have to be called to maintain order. Department staff and those appearing for court have separate restroom facilities. The new conference room and rooms opened up by the relocation of probation officers to the Lewis building provide space for attorney/client meetings. With so little space before, attorneys would sometimes duck into a bathroom with their clients for privacy. Rooms are available for a variety of community programs.
“This offers better service for kids involved in the juvenile system,” said John Simms, juvenile program services coordinator. “Anytime they can meet in a conference room rather than a restroom, it’s better.”
Also added was an office for Simms. For years, Simms has packed and unpacked and moved his office to whatever space was available. Now, he has an office just off the detention arm of the department, right where he needs to be.
IF YOU GO
What: Juvenile Justice Center open house
When: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Murphy-Bernardini Regional Juvenile Justice Center, 1545 E. Fifth St.
Call 887-2033 for information.