Gary B.: Juvenile Detention Center to become treatment center for survivors of sex trafficking


UPDATED 2:40 p.m. with Judge Robert Griffin’s comments. Listen below.

The Independence County Quorum Court was told Monday night that the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville will be transformed into a treatment center for survivors of sex trafficking.

Jonathan Pickering, facility director for the center, told JPs it will close by this summer, and the new center will offer group and individual therapy for sex trafficking victims.

Independence County Judge Robert Griffin visited with Gary B. this afternoon about the change of direction at the center. Listen to his comments below.


The center became synonymous with neglect and abuse of juveniles in its care. A former jailer was sentenced in April to seven years in prison for what a judge called “sadistic and completely unjustified punishments” for disorderly juveniles. Another was imprisoned in March for violating youth’s rights and falsifying documents.

It was noted during Monday night’s meeting that locking up juveniles was not a way to help them succeed in life and was just not working — not working in Arkansas or anywhere else.

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