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City Shutters Notorious Bronx Juvenile Detention Center

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A once-notorious Bronx juvenile detention facility that gained notoriety decades ago for inhuman conditions has officially been shuttered by the city, officials announced Wednesday.

The Bridges Juvenile Center, which originally opened in the late 1950s, was better known by its former name, Spofford, and had been closed once before in the 1990s before being reopened to accommodate the uptick in youth being arrested under the Giuliani administration.

"The community has said loud and clear they would like to use it (the facility) for some other purposes, but there aren't any plans right now for using it. I just don't plan on ever reopening it for detention", said John Mattingly, the commissioner Administration for Children's Services, which recently took over the city's juvenile justice system.

Last year, 3,431 youth were admitted to Bridges one or more times, according to the department. Those admitted tended to be between the ages of 11 and 16.

Those housed at Spofford were transferred to the city's two other secure detention facilities. Mattingly said staff had also been transferred.

The closure is part of the city's efforts to reform its juvenile justice system by diverting more troubled youth from detention centers into smaller, alternative programs where they live in less restrictive settings or where they live at home but are closely monitored.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to take a young person ... who you are concerned is headed on a trajectory into adult crime and put him in a facility with 150 other young people some of them older and some of them farther out in that career", Mattingly said.

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