Newark Mayor Ras Baraka shifts stance on juvenile detention center

Earlier this week, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said a state plan to build a new youth detention facility in the city was “not happening.”

But in a joint statement with Gov. Phil Murphy released Thursday, Baraka shifted his position.

In the statement, both Murphy and Baraka say they support the opening of new, regional centers for youth offenders. A site near West Side High School in Newark has been identified by the state as the location for a North Jersey facility.

Murphy’s plan to overhaul the state’s juvenile detention system includes replacing the centralized Jamesburg facility with three regional locations that would house the state’s youth population.

“I support the closing of youth prisons,” Baraka said in a statement Monday. “A new youth prison in Newark is simply not happening.”

But on Thursday, the statement read in part, “The fact remains that a small number of juveniles engage in serious, violent conduct, and we must find a safe, secure way to house them.”

The facility, according to the statement, would be a “secure youth residential center.”

Baraka and Murphy called out critics they say have spread “misinformation,” about the facility.