MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new facility housing juvenile offenders in Shelby County officially opened with a ribbon cutting Wednesday.

The Shelby County Youth Justice and Education Center at 3420 Old Getwell Road in Oakhaven can house up to 146 youth.

County leaders say the new site will give young offenders the opportunity to make positive changes in their lives.

“Here in Shelby County, we want to make sure that every young person, whether they make a bad decision one time, have an opportunity to change their direction in life for the betterment of their lives,” said Harold Collins, chief administrative officer for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Juveniles will no longer stay at the decades-old facility downtown on Adams, but that site will still be used for court purposes. The new center, formerly an adult prison, opened at the end of July after a multi-million dollar renovation.

Sheriff Floyd Bonner says activities at the center and the partnership with Memphis Shelby County Schools Hope Academy will help young people be able to re-enter the community, gathering skills to gain employment in trades as well as computer science. 

“This center will offer recreational activities, therapeutic counseling, services to help our youth become rehabilitated,” Bonner said. “This facility has already hosted Shakespeare poetry reading, held two master barber workshops, we will have cooking classes.”

There’s also a green space for gardening.

Sheriff Bonner says they’re rolling out the welcoming mat for people in the community to get involved and mentor young people. 

“Come out, be a part of it,” he said. “Pour into our youth, we’re so excited to be here.”