Juvenile detention center strives to be different

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Each year, thousands of kids go through the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Detention Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Their crimes can vary from shoplifting to even murder.

At first glance, the detention center appears like any other: Orange and blue jumpsuits, guards in every corner and holding cells that look identical to the cells in prison.

But this facility is like no other in Tennessee, and is one of the very few of its kind in the nation.

Judge Tim Irwin sentences the juveniles to this holding center while they are awaiting bond, court or getting transferred to another facility. Their stay can vary from a couple hours, to a couple of years for some.

He believes that while the kids are at the detention center, they need to be making the most out of their time, not just through the educational programs they offer, but recreational programs as well.

"Even arts and crafts, even basketball in the gym, there's a therapeutic aspect to those things, and it's a much healthier situation than just having someone sitting there all day long," Irwin said.

Richard L. Bean, who is the superintendent, wants all the kids who come through the facility, no matter their crime, to feel like humans - not inmates.

"I don't try to know who's here for killing, or shoplifting. I treat them all the same," Bean said.

The kids are offered the same classes they can access at school. Some even get school credit. The center also offers on site doctors, a barber shop and even church services on Sundays.

"It's good, clean, healthy and no matter what people say, there's more good in here than bad," saidTerry Essex, a correctional officer.

Read the original version of this article at local8now.com.