CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Residents at the Charleston County Juvenile Detention Center got the gift of reading this holiday season. A new library opened in the center Wednesday.

The project has been in the works since 2020 when Sheriff Kristen Graziano approached Charleston County Council about adding space for a library in the construction plans for the new facility. Although construction on the building was already underway, the library was added.

On Wednesday the sheriff, along with other Charleston County Sheriff’s Office staff, celebrated the library’s opening.

“If you want to change the trajectory of a child’s path, you need the opportunity to be able to do that,” said Sheriff Graziano.

Increasing educational opportunities in corrections facilities has been a goal of the sheriff since she ran for the seat in 2020.

“We’ve seen success,” said said. “We’re witnessing it every day in this building and across the street [at the Al Cannon Detention Center].”

Juveniles at the detention center are now in school Monday through Friday for eight hours a day, except for Wednesdays when they have early dismissal. A few teachers and a principal employed by the Charleston County School District (CCSD) are in charge of schooling for the residents.

Despite the success, Sheriff Graziano and her staff have been pushing for a library for two years.

Wednesday, their vision was unveiled.

“This is an opportunity for us to really change that trajectory,” she said.

CCSO joined together with county council and the Charleston County Public Library system (CCPL) to design the space and curate a collection of books for the residents to enjoy. Some of them are in line with CCSD’s curriculum and others were requested by the residents. The sheriff says graphic novels were a popular request.

Sheriff Graziano believes by educating the residents, they will have better outcomes when they are released from the center.

“When they learn, it’s something you can’t take away from them. What we’re hoping to do and what we aim to do is change their behavior. Change the decision-making process.”

Although the collection of 400 books will serve its purpose, CCSO and CCPL are holding a book drive to expand the collection.

“We don’t want gifts for Christmas, we want books and this is what the kids want,” said Sheriff Graziano.

The drive is in coordination with Unlock the Box, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and Stop Solitary for Kids.

The effort can be supported by visiting the Amazon wishlist.