Presented by

Atlantic Documentaries

An Inside Look at Juvenile Detention

Mar 16, 2018 | 70 videos
Video by The Atlantic

As recently as 2005, the state of Virginia had eight centers like Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Facility, housing more than 1,300 delinquent youth. But by 2017, after a series of reforms, that number had shrunk to one.


“It's not that you can't do good work here,” said Andy Block, who, since 2014, has served as the juvenile-justice department’s director. “But the place itself and the design and the size and the location are barriers to doing good work.” Block and others are working to close Bon Air and replace it with something that reflects the juvenile justice reforms that have taken hold in Virginia and across the country—a system that once focused on confinement is now dedicated to rehabilitation. In recent years, more than 70 percent of Virginia's juvenile inmates were rearrested within three years of their release.*


This documentary explores life inside Bon Air and the challenges facing reform efforts in Virginia. It is part of a larger reporting project on juvenile justice reform. Read more here and watch the VR series: Life Inside Maximum-Security Juvenile Detention, Life After Juvenile Detention, and Life in an Alternative to Juvenile Detention.


*This documentary originally stated that Virginia has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country. This characterization was based on incomplete data. The documentary also stated that the three-year rearrest rate for current Bon Air inmates would be 74 percent. This was the rate for former juvenile inmates in Virginia in 2014. We regret the errors.


Author: Nicolas Pollock

About This Series

Original short documentaries produced by The Atlantic