Youth Advocacy Group Questions VA Juvenile Classification System

The Department of Juvenile Justice is considering delaying its new system for reclassifying young offenders after advocates complained and the board that oversees the department said it wanted to review the policy.

Advocates and parents told board members Wednesday that classifying youths based on crimes rather than their behavior since they've been incarcerated would not be fair to those who had excelled and earned more privileges. They also said it could disrupt educational and other services.

Department officials said offenders would keep their privileges and said the changes were necessary to keep violent offenders away from those who committed less serious crimes.

Upon the board's request, a department official said he would consider delaying any more moves until the board could meet and discuss the policy, possibly later this month.

Department director Helivi L. Holland said Tuesday in a statement that services won't be disrupted. She says the system allows staff to assess juvenile residents' security and custody levels and assign them to the appropriate correctional facility.

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