WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth County Clerk of Court Susan Frye wants to see the now closed Hill Middle School in Winston-Salem turned into a one-stop shop for the more than 1,300 offenders who come through juvenile court each year.
Frye says the courthouse is out of space and can not house the services the young offenders are often sentenced too. Hill closed last year after consolidating with Philo Middle School.
District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield is in favor of the idea. She says often times, because these children’s parents have to take them to the services they’ve been sentenced to and with the services all over the county, parents can’t get it done. The children end up facing greater penalties.
“They are going here for a shelter, they are going here psychological, here for a group, here for family services and there for another thing and a lot of times when they come back and report to me they been unable to do that simply because they could not get there, ” Hartsfield said.
Frye has been working on the idea since the beginning of the year along with officials from the school system, county manager’s office and district attorney’s office.
“What we are doing with our juvenile population is not working. A lot of time the current system sets them up to fail. If we have it under one umbrella it would provide a better service,” said Frye.
Frye has applied for a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation to pay for a feasibility study and hopes once complete to present the findings to county commissioners later this year.
Frye says the building could also house space for storing court records, perhaps some after school programs and other programs aimed at helping potential juvenile offenders. Frye says that would free up space for other programs at the current Hall of Justice.
Last year 1,351 juveniles came through Forsyth County’s Juvenile Court. More than 440 of them faced violent or serious charges.