Washington, D.C., has closed its long-time juvenile detention facility, called Oak Hill, and moved about two dozen youth in custody to a new nearby $46 million facility called the New Beginnings Youth Center that resembles a small private college, reports the Washington Post. “This is the anti-prison,” said Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. “What we had before was a training school for them to become adult inmates. We want them to aspire to college, to be in a place that looks like you care about them.”
The 30-acre campus has a landscaped courtyard, an airy library and lunchroom and windows everywhere. Huge, clunky cell keys have been replaced by electronic entry cards. Inmates have buzzers in their rooms that let them out automatically at night to use the restroom. The former Oak Hill facility was a violent place that had 208 beds spread across 11 buildings. In 1988, 319 youths were on runaway status, an additional 191 didn’t return from weekend passes, and 128 escaped.