Aboulhosn on Thursday ordered the younger boys to be sent to smaller state-run homes.
At the beginning of the month, one 13-year-old and two 14-year-olds were locked up at Salem, Largent-Hill said. Current numbers were not immediately available Thursday.
"Try to imagine as a 13-year-old or young 14-year-old to hear a steel door go shut and you're locked in that room," Largent-Hill said.
Salem has a long history.
It was created by the state Legislature in 1897. Lawmakers wanted a place to put girls who were found to have "incorrigible or vicious conduct" and "vagrancy" or had been spotted in "houses of ill fame or assignation houses (brothels)." The facility opened its doors in May 1899. It began accepting boys nearly a century later. This week, the institution housed about 74 juveniles up to the age of 21 at its main site, known as Building A.
The juvenile services division has been gradually reducing its use of Salem. Six years ago, there were about 180 juveniles there. There is another facility on the Salem campus for juvenile sex offenders, but its future has not been addressed this week.
The multi-million dollar Building A was designed and built just over a decade ago by the Regional Jail Authority, which runs the state's adult jails. The facility has been called stark and too prison-like.
"They just didn't get the right advice on how to build (Salem)," Juvenile Services Deputy Director Denny Dodson said in an interview earlier this week.
Building A is so stark DeMuro recommended it be turned over to the adult prison system if all the juveniles eventually are removed.
Still, Dodson encouraged observers to "overlook the building" and look at the kinds of care troubled youths are receiving there, even though the division seems to agree smaller facilities are truly the best option in the long run.
Salem employs about 200 people in North Central West Virginia.