Proposal to close Taft Youth Center in Bledsoe County raises opposition

Proposal to close Taft Youth Center in Bledsoe County raises opposition

November 22nd, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Pre-season football practice at Taft Youth Center.

NASHVILLE - A proposal to close Taft Youth Center in Bledsoe County is drawing bipartisan objections from area state lawmakers.

They say the secure facility is filled with older juvenile offenders that other centers "have been unable to control."

State Department of Children's Services Commissioner Kathryn O'Day today made the proposal to shut down the facility in her presentation to Gov. Bill Haslam, who is conducting public budget hearings.

"It's our most expensive place," O'Day said, also noting the facility's age and location makes it difficult to operate.

In a letter to the governor, two senators and three representatives called closure of Taft "drastic" and said closing it is not in the interest of the state, Bledsoe County or offenders.

The facility "is the most restrictive facility for juvenile offenders," they wrote. "Taft's population is compromised of the more serious and older delinquents. The sentences are more adult oriented or they are serving a third commitment."

The letter was signed by state Sens. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, and Charlotte Burkes, D-Monterey, as well as Reps. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, Jim Cobb, R-Spring City and Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.