Jan 25, 2023 - News

Mayor pushes $92 million for juvenile justice center

Outside of the Juvenile Justice Center.

The Juvenile Justice Center on Woodland Street. Photo: Courtesy of Kim Head/Davidson County Juvenile Court

Mayor John Cooper wants to put $92 million toward a new juvenile justice campus, the Tennessean reports.

  • The long-sought project is the biggest item on Cooper's upcoming capital spending plan, according to the newspaper.

Why it matters: The existing juvenile justice complex, which sits in the shadow of Nissan Stadium on Woodland Street, has been in disrepair for years. Raw sewage has flooded the facility, and closets have been used as makeshift courtrooms.

State of play: The latest wave of funding would allow the city to begin construction on a new 14-acre site on Brick Church Pike. Extra space would be used for dedicated areas to serve runaways, delinquent youth and families in crisis.

  • Officials say the added room would also allow for improved security surrounding the juvenile lockup. Design flaws in the current building were one of the factors that contributed to a high-profile escape in 2019.

What they're saying: Cooper said in a statement that the new facility "enables us to fully implement a family-oriented, trauma-informed approach to justice that will result in better outcomes for families for many years to come."

What's next: Cooper's full capital spending plan, which will include the $92 million investment along with other projects, requires council approval.

  • His previous plan included $30 million for land acquisition and design work. Additional rounds of funding will be required to finish the project, with the total price tag expected to be $230 million, per the mayor's office.
  • The goal is to open the new campus in 2026.
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