NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County says it’s new Juvenile Detention Center should be a gamechanger in fighting youth crime across the Lowcountry. Leaders say it’s a needed addition as many children have had to spend months in the Al Cannon Detention Center due to the previous facility falling into disrepair.
The new 30,000 square foot building will be able to house more juveniles while incorporating classrooms and additional support and learning opportunities.
Leaders say they see the new detention center as a way to set a standard for better care for the Lowcountry’s youth.
“This is an improvement on what was already in existence,” says Charleston County Councilwoman Anna Johnson who was in attendance for Tuesday’s ribbon cutting.
The facility features three open dorms, high security cells, three classrooms, a library, counseling rooms and more meant to accommodate those housed at the facility.
“Setting the standard of care for juveniles in detention for the rest of the country to admire and to take note of,” says Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano.
The former Juvenile Detention Center, built in 1967, had become overcrowded and fell into disrepair in recent years. The juveniles were moved to the Al Cannon Detention Center in 2020. The new building is design to house 60 individuals but is expandable and caters to better learning and support.
“60 is the max and it is important because we don’t have kids just laying on top of each other, they have their own space,” says Major Dorothy Harris with the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Graziano played a big part in the creation of the center, making some changes after being elected Sheriff in 2020. Sheriff Graziano added quiet rooms, outdoor space and more privacy in inmate pods.
“Outdoor green space was a big thing, having light and all-natural light,” says Sheriff Graziano.
She hopes the three classrooms and library will allow juveniles to work towards earning a GED in hopes of reducing a chance of return to the facility.
“We actually have classrooms so they have to go to class everyday, they can’t just sit in their units and sit at a table and go through books or laptops,” says Sheriff Graziano.
County leaders and Sheriff Graziano believe the new building will lead the way in Charleston County for years to come.
“We want them to be the best of themselves when they come back into the community,” says Sheriff Graziano. “The community is safer and yeah we don’t want them to come back.”
There are a few details that are being finished including adding furniture. The building is expected to open in two weeks.