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Lawmakers Deliver Recommendations for Sununu Youth Center

A group of New Hampshire lawmakers has issued their recommendations for repurposing the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC), the state’s juvenile detention facility in Manchester.

The committee convened in response to a juvenile justice bill passed this summer to address underutilization of the facility, which currently houses around 30 juveniles whom the court deems to be delinquent and violent.

The committee's recommendations include that the state:

  • Continue to own and operate the facility, rather than shut it down.  
  • Establish a working group under the leadership of the Child Advocate to study the scope of services available to troubled youth throughout New Hampshire, as well as the longerm future of the SYSC, and the possibility of scaling down its size. 
  • Establish a commission with governmental and community members to review and/or adopt the working group's recommendations.
  • Clarify its financial obligations to the Department of Justice, which loaned the state money for the SYSC.
  • Convert a wing of the facility into an outpatient drug treatment facility for people under the age of 21 and/or teen mothers.
  • Renovate some of the buildings and use them to improve youth services.

Part of the center has already been turned into a residential treatment facility for 12 to 18 year olds with substance abuse problems.

Senator Lou D'Allesandro, a member of the study committee, says this repurposing is what the facility has needed ever since the 1970's.

"Things haven't been going well there for a long period of time and the kinds of things that needed to be taken care of haven't been taken care of," he said. "We need to effectively use that property. It's a great resource that can address some very significant concerns."

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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