the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) was created,
it was charged with overseeing detention leading
an effort to build new Secure Detention facilities
to replace Spofford Juvenile Center. At the time,
however, there was no funding available for the
project. New York City was in the throes of its
worst fiscal crisis, and there was little money
available for large-scale construction. Work on
new facilities did not begin until 1988.
the direction of then DJJ Commissioner, Tino Hernandez,
the Horizon and Crossroads Juvenile Centers opened
in 1998. The facilities allowed the Agency to offer
a different sort of custody. Spofford's cinderblocks
walls and hallways were replaced with less institutional
Sheetrock and natural light. Barred glass windows
were replaced by unbreakable plastic which gave
the facilities a less punitive atmosphere. In addition,
the new facilities were smaller. As planned, the
combined capacity of Horizon and Crossroads was
248 beds (124 per facility), compared to a 289 bed
capacity at Spofford.
population increase beginning in 1989 left the Agency
searching for still more room for its residents.
To meet the need for space, DJJ leased the Vernon
C. Bain Center (VCBC) from the Department of Correction
in June 1998. The Agency used that facility as a
temporary Intake and Admissions Center for boys,
as well as a processing facility for residents awaiting
transfer to state facilities. The lease of the VCBC
allowed the Department to renovate three wings of
the Spofford building. In December 1999, DJJ returned
to that facility, renamed Bridges Juvenile Center.
Bridges currently serves as the Agency's Intake
and Admissions facility for boys and girls alike,
as well as a transfer point for state-ready youth.
and 1999, DJJ also opened six Non-Secure Detention
(NSD) group homes under contracts with community-based
organizations, increasing its non-secure capacity.
In total, DJJ now oversees 14 NSD facilities, including
two directly-operated group homes; Beach Avenue
Intake Facility for boys, in the Bronx, and an other
intake facility on West 145th Street in Manhattan