No forgery charges against Richmond Juvenile Detention Center

RICHMOND, Va.  (WTVR)  – There’s another development in the investigation into Richmond’s troubled Juvenile Detention Center.

Three months after Mayor Dwight Jones announced the city would close the center because of what he called “unsafe conditions”, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is announcing it will not file charges over allegedly forged training records.

The investigation into broken surveillance cameras, jail cells that wouldn’t lock and other safety hazards were well underway, but it was the allegations of criminal misconduct that prompted Mayor Jones to shut down operations at the detention center this past April.

The criminal activity being alleged was that signatures on some employee training records were being forged.   But according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will not file charges.  After investigating the forgery allegation, they don’t have enough to formally charge anyone with a crime.  

CBS 6 reported NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani’s allegations late last year.  He raised the red flag over what he called “deplorable conditions” inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center.  When we brought his complaints to the city’s Deputy Administration Officer, Dr. Carolyn Graham, she told us most of the problems had been addressed and the city was working at speed to take care of the rest.  But months later, Mayor Jones said he’d had enough; that the facility was indeed unsafe, and needed to be investigated.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone says even though the commonwealth’s attorney is not filing charges of forgery, investigators may keep looking for evidence of wrongdoing.  “

You’ve got a whole bunch of people who have access to the records”, said Stone.  “They don’t know who forged what, if anything was forged.  In a criminal case you have to pinpoint one specific person who committed the criminal act.”

Stone says this is a totally different issue from the fact the facility was mismanaged.  The center had been on probation with the state`s Department of Juvenile Justice because of persistent problems with computerized locks and, in at least one case, a charge that staff had unprofessional contact with an inmate.

When it closed, 49 juveniles offenders were relocated to other local facilities, the center’s director resigned, and David Hicks, a former commonwealth’s attorney himself, took over as interim director.

Todd Stone tells us that if the commonwealth’s attorney believes they can try a case beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody may still be charged, and that may be something we could still see.

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