Right now it's used by the state Department of Health and Human Resources as a short-term detention facility for juveniles who have repeatedly run away or committed non-violent crimes. The DHHR contracted with Thornton's department to use the building. Now Thornton and juvenile services need it back.
"As you look at internal resources and the best way to maximize our resources, repurposing Spadaro for our needs is what's able to make us implement this plan," Thornton said.
DHHR will move the juveniles at the Sparado Center to other facilities it runs, Thornton said. The facility needs more fencing and other security upgrades in order to accommodate the new population. The state estimates the security upgrades will cost about $140,000.
Changes at the Kuhn Center are expected to cost the most and affect the most offenders.
When the state closed the Industrial Home, it moved those offenders to the J.M. "Chick" Buckbee Juvenile Center in Hampshire County.
But the Buckbee Center isn't ideal for maximum or medium security offenders, Thornton said.
"It was a quick place to place kids, because we had agreed to shut down the Industrial Home," Thornton said. "But we knew we were going to have to make some modifications if that facility were going to remain a long-term facility. With this adjustment ... we can save money by not making those adjustments at Chick Buckbee."
The facility allows for segregation of units and is generally better suited for juveniles with longer sentences, Thornton said. It's split into a "diagnostic" area and a small detention area. Most juvenile offenders go to the diagnostic area so the state can assess which facility would best suit their rehabilitation needs, Thornton said. It's a fluid population, with most offenders staying no more than 60 days.
There's also a 10-bed detention facility. There are already plans created for an addition to that portion of the facility: when the state built the Kuhn Center, architects designed an additional section the state decided not to build, Thornton said.
The addition will house up to 24 offenders. A 300-foot secured hallway will separate the diagnostic area from the proposed long-term commitment area, Thornton said. It's unlikely the two populations will mix, he said. The Buckbee Center will return to its use as a regional detention facility.
Construction at the Kuhn Center is expected to take about one year. The project still needs to go to bid, and there could be some changes to the decision, so Thornton said there's no final completion date.
Thornton expects to meet the court's September 30 deadline for moving the offenders at the Jones Center. The associated shifts should be completed by then as well: The state is already working on the facility upgrades needed at the Perdue and Sparado centers, Thornton said.
There's already money in department's budget for the $2 million upgrade, Thornton said. Money allocated for offenders will move with those offenders to their new facilities, he said.
The new Salem Correctional Center was slated to open Monday. The opening is pushed back until after the offenders are moved from the Jones Center. Thornton didn't know exactly when the new adult prison would open.
Last week Thornton told leaders at the affected centers and the Cindy Largent-Hill, a monitor appointed by the Supreme Court, about the plan.
The plan could play a central role in the next court hearing in the Mountain State Justice case. In his ruling to close the Jones Center, Aboulhosn ordered a status update on it and other facilities. The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.