Nashville’s Youth Campus for Empowerment: Redefining Juvenile Justice
The Nashville Youth Campus for Empowerment (“NYCE Campus”) will be a family-oriented, trauma-informed campus designed to support the intrinsic value of all members of our community. In addition to serving as the home of the Davidson County Juvenile Court and a pre-trial housing facility for justice-involved youth, the NYCE Campus will house resources and agencies that can provide immediate service delivery to families in need. A 24-hour Assessment Center will support youth in crisis, while maintaining the safety of the community. Spacious meeting rooms and courtrooms will allow Court staff, community partners, litigants, and attorneys to conduct private meetings and mediations to peacefully resolve family conflicts with dignity and respect. A safe exchange facility will allow for therapeutic custodial visitation to help strengthen families and build resilience in children. In short, the NYCE Campus will provide a center of growth, opportunity, and empowerment for young people in our community from birth through adulthood. The planned location of the facility is on Brick Church Pike on the former site of the Al Menah Shrine Temple. This spacious 14-acre site was chosen based on its proximity to additional resources for children and families, easy access for attorneys and other court partners, accessibility to public transportation, adequate space for free parking for staff and the public, and room to create green space and courtyards to create a tranquil, positive center of hope for families in Nashville and Davidson County.
Judge Sheila Calloway: “We are immensely thankful to Mayor Jon Cooper and the Metropolitan Council for prioritizing this project that will benefit the families and youth in Nashville and Davidson County for years to come. We believe this investment will pay off exponentially through improved public safety and positive outcomes for youth in our community.”
Clerk Lonnell Matthews: “The Metro Council advocated to make a new juvenile justice center a top priority, and Mayor John Cooper answered the call to meet the unique needs of justice-involved youth with this investment. We are grateful that our city’s leaders have embraced the vision to create the nation’s first family-oriented, trauma-informed campus for juvenile and family justice.”
History of the current Juvenile Justice Center
The current Juvenile Justice Center, located at 100 Woodland Street, opened its doors in 1994. At the time, Juvenile Court housed 4 judicial officers, one elected juvenile court judge and three appointed juvenile court magistrates. Over time, as the demand for services grew, additional magistrates and additional courtrooms were needed. In response to this demand, several agencies and programs were displaced from the building to allow renovation to provide four additional courtrooms. In 2008, Mayor Karl Dean repurposed a former public works facility, located at 945 Dr Richard Adams Dr, to create the Metro Student Attendance Center (MSAC) to address truancy. MSAC, a partnership between Juvenile Court and MNPS houses an additional courtroom that is also used for Safe Babies Court. Today, Juvenile Court houses 10 judicial officers, one elected juvenile court judge and 9 appointed juvenile court magistrates. Juvenile court petitions cover custody, visitation, establishing parentage, child support, guardianship, child abuse, neglect, dependency, delinquency, unruly and other juvenile related issues. In addition, the pre-trial housing facility houses an average of 35-40 justice-involved youth daily. Judge Calloway entered an agreement with Sheriff Daron Hall in 2015 to prevent justice-involved youth that were transferred and convicted in adult court from being housed in the county detention center with adults, until they turn 18. This agreement ensures that these justice-involved youth will received age-appropriate rehabilitation services and development in our pre-trial housing facility until they are 18 years old, as part of our effort to redefine how juvenile justice is administered in Nashville. The average length of stay for justice-involved youth in our pre-trial housing facility is 14 days.
Master Planning for a new Juvenile Justice Vision
In 2016, Judge Sheila Calloway finally got city leaders to back her vision for redefining Juvenile Justice. Although needed resources were not immediately made available, city leaders saw the need to start planning to better meet the needs of Nashville’s most vulnerable youth and families. In 2017, the new Juvenile Justice Center Master Plan was completed. The master plan calls for the current occupancy of about 95,533 BGSF, including off-site facilities, to grow to an occupancy of about 286,869 BGSF. This is projected to meet Nashville’s Juvenile Justice Needs through 2035. The master plan also presents two development scenarios, an urban setting on approximately 6-7 acres or a campus setting on approximately 12-14 acres. The campus setting is the preferred recommendation because it allows for expansion and growth to meet future needs beyond 2035.
You can view and read the entire master plan document at this link:
Inadequate infrastructure causes urgency for new Juvenile Court
The 2017 Master Plan shows the need to create the Nashville Youth Campus for Empowerment, and projects the type of outcomes we should hope for our youth and families. However, it was plumbing infrastructure issues at the current Juvenile Justice Center that occurred between 2019 and 2020 that raised the urgency to fund this project. Please see the videos below of presentations Judge Calloway and Clerk Matthews made to the Metro Council about the need to act now and build NYCE: