Newark mayor clarifies position on youth detention centers

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a press release Monday he does not support the construction of any new buildings to house the state’s juvenile detention population.

But a joint statement released Thursday by Baraka and Gov. Phil Murphy indicated their support for new, secure regional youth centers — ones that would focus on rehabilitation and treatment rather than punishment.

Thursday evening on WBGO’s “Newark Today” program, Baraka clarified his stance on new youth facilities.

“We’re not in favor of building a new prison in Newark or any part of northern New Jersey at all,” Baraka said. “For the folks that have to be incarcerated, we’ll begin to invest in the facilities that already exist to modernize and update them.”

Baraka said instead of building expensive new facilities, the state should renovate existing buildings and use the savings to create new youth rehabilitation programs.

The Governor’s Office did not respond to a request for clarification on whether Murphy supports constructing new facilities or renovating already existing ones.