Juvenile Justice Info on COVID-19

Actions taken to keep the public, staff and juveniles safe

The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice is committed to doing everything possible to help ensure the health, safety and security of DPS employees, those housed within our system and ultimately the general public. 

Juvenile Justice leadership is continuously monitoring this evolving situation and will take additional safety steps as warranted to help preempt and reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread. Based on recommendations from Gov. Roy Cooper, as well as information from the Governor’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Task Force and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, various operational changes have been instituted to help protect the safety of our staff, and the juveniles and families we serve. To date, these operational changes (first implemented March 16, 2020, with updates on April 1, April 16 and May 22) include:

  • Suspending visitation and volunteer activities at all juvenile justice facilities, until conditions are deemed safe. All non-essential volunteers, contractors, and vendors are prohibited from entry. Contractors/staff undergo screening procedures prior to entry.
  • Placing all juvenile detention center/crisis and assessment center admissions in medical room confinement for up to 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider to join the general population.
  • Screening all juveniles being admitted to a juvenile facility for potential coronavirus symptoms. Anyone with symptoms will be quarantined while the source of their medical issues are investigated. Facility directors, teachers and clinicians work to ensure these youth have access to enrichment and entertainment activities.
  • Requiring that all staff, visitors and contractors entering a state-operated juvenile detention center or youth development center wear a mask at all times.
  • Requiring that all persons entering a Juvenile Justice worksite submit to temperature and symptom screening.
  • Screening all juveniles prior to transportation. If a juvenile is feverish or has a respiratory illness, the juvenile shall not be transported.
  • Placing into medical room confinement all juveniles in secure custody with symptoms while investigating the source of their medical issues and during provision of medical care. This is being done to prevent the spread of coronavirus if it emerges in the population.
  • Hiring additional health care workers to oversee preparations and implementation of COVID-19 response plans.
  • Rescheduling all non-critical off-site medical appointments
  • Posting informational literature in all facilities to stress the washing of hands and other preventive measures juveniles, staff and visitors can take to reduce the spread of diseases.
  • Decreasing the number of youth in detention through the utilization of electronic monitoring.
  • Suspending home visits for youth committed to a youth development center and deferring the requirement that a juvenile complete all pre‐release home visits before being release from a youth development center.
  • Increasing the number of phone calls permitted between juveniles and their families.
  • Limiting recreational services to non-contact activities.
  • Increasing the use of telehealth services, to include the provision of mental health services and assessments at detention centers in addition to youth development centers. 
  • Handling necessary court hearings via videoconference.
  • Conducting service planning and post release supervision planning meetings via telephone/videoconferencing for external stakeholders, including court counselors and the juvenile’s family.
  • Conducting non-essential meetings via videoconference.
  • Providing a health care summary and COVID-19 fact sheet upon the release of a juvenile from a detention center or youth development center. Juveniles and their families are instructed to contact the center if symptoms develop within 14 days after release.

It is important to note that social distancing is possible within juvenile detention centers and youth development centers. Juvenile detention centers, and individual living units within youth development centers, are comprised of a common area used for meals and recreation, along with individual rooms for each juvenile.

The Juvenile Justice Section regularly focuses on using alternatives to detention (such as electronic monitoring, home confinement, community-based programs, etc.) when appropriate for juveniles with nonviolent complaints who are awaiting adjudication, or trial, within juvenile court. During this pandemic, those efforts have been increased to include:

  • Reviewing juvenile cases for those who might be appropriate for release, and bringing them to the attention of the detaining judges for approval of release to community-based services.
  • Seeking other alternatives to detention for juveniles who committed minor violations of their probation. For example, requesting the court to allow a juvenile to serve court-ordered detention time for such a violation following the coronavirus crisis.
  • Increasing the use of electronic monitoring and other alternatives to detention.
  • Requesting judges rescind, in appropriate cases, outstanding bench orders for secure custody on juveniles with complaints for non-violent offenses.  

These efforts helped to bring down the daily juvenile detention population by 25% between the beginning of March to mid-April, from 202 to 151. 

Additionally, ACJJ leadership has assigned a team to review all juvenile cases that are eligible for release from youth development centers, and to work with community-based partners to ensure effective transitions can occur. Prior to releasing any juvenile from a YDC, staff must ensure that the home and community environments are safe, supportive of the juvenile’s continued growth, and able to meet the juvenile’s needs in the areas of education and mental health treatment.

Sept. 18, 2020

  • Announced resumption on Oct. 1, 2020, of limited in-person visitation in juvenile justice facilities. Visitation, which was suspended on March 16 in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, will resume Oct. 1 under the following conditions:
    • Visits must be scheduled in advance, by appointment only.
    • Juveniles who are on isolation or quarantine, or who have exhibited any symptoms of COVID-19, will have their visit rescheduled.
    • All visitors will be medically screened with temperature checks, in addition to standard security procedures. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or who has a fever of 100 degrees or more, or who has been exposed to someone who is COVID-positive, will be denied entry.
    • The visits will be non-contact only. Social distancing of at least six feet between juvenile and visitor will be enforced. Additionally, both juveniles and their visitor must wear face masks for the duration of the visit.
    • If the facility grounds and weather conditions permit, visits may take place outdoors.|
    • Visitors should immediately inform the facility if they receive a diagnosis of COVID-19 or develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 within 48 hours after a visit.

July 2, 2020

  • Confirming by test results received this week that following a mass testing initiative, no juveniles (who agreed to undergo testing) housed in state-operated secure custody facilities were infected by the coronavirus at the time they were tested. In mid-June officials with the state Juvenile Justice section of the N.C. Department of Public Safety provided testing to all juveniles in secure custody in the four youth development centers and seven juvenile detention centers operated by the state. 

    Going forward during the coronavirus pandemic, all youths entering juvenile justice facilities will be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their admission. If the juvenile and/or guardian refuses to allow testing, the juvenile must remain in quarantine for 14 days. Juveniles who are tested will stay in quarantine until testing results have been determined, and up to 14 days.

June 11, 2020

  • Began implementing a plan to provide COVID-19 testing for children housed currently in state secure custody facilities, and to offer testing to all juveniles entering these facilities within 72 hours of their entry going forward during the coronavirus pandemic. Updated guidance on June 9 from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recommended testing of all residents of congregant facilities. 

May 21, 2020

  • Confirming through COVID-19 testing that all 87 juveniles at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, and one unit of four children at Chatham Youth Development Center, have not been infected by the coronavirus. COVID-19 testing of these juveniles earlier this week, and happening today with 19 juveniles at Edgecombe Youth Development Center, is occurring after a staff member at each facility self-reported that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

May 15, 2020 

April 6, 2020

NC Juvenile Facilities - Juvenile COVID-19 Testing Data

Cumulative Tests Performed Positive Tests Presumed Recovered 
Per CDC/DHHS guidelines
Alexander JDC 61 0  
Cabarrus JDC 122 0
Cumberland JDC 45 0
Dillon JDC 60 0
Dobbs/Lenoir JDC 31 1
New Hanover JDC 59 0
Pitt JDC 97 1
Wake JDC 75 2
Chatham YDC 20 0
Edgecombe YDC 20 0
Lenoir YDC 16 0
Cabarrus YDC 90 0
TOTAL 696 4 4

Last updated: 10/15/2020

Data may not include every juvenile at facility, since juveniles may refuse testing. When this occurs, Juvenile Justice must take appropriate precautions for facility, by presuming that juvenile could potentially be infected with COVID-19 and institute appropriate quarantine period for juvenile.  

*JDC=Juvenile Detention Center

*YDC=Youth Development Center