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DCS Proposes Closing Taft Youth Center; Legislators Object

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday voiced opposition to a proposal by the state Department of Children’s Services to close a juvenile detention facility in Bledsoe County.
DCS Commissioner Kathryn O’Day said at budget hearings at the University of Tennessee that her agency would close the Taft Youth Development Center near Pikeville under Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s call for each department to prepare 5 percent reductions in spending.
“Taft is our oldest facility. It needs more than $37 million in capital upgrades,” she said. “Because of its age, it is an extremely spread out facility, so it is the most expensive for us to run.”
The Taft center holds 156 boys between the ages of 16 to 19 years old, according to the DCS website. It is the most restrictive of the state’s five youth development centers because it holds serious and repeat offenders. The other facilities are located near Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.

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