Historty of the Juvenile Services Department

By Robert Coughlin



Date Established

  • October 17, 1968
First Director (Superintendent)

  • James A. Finn (1968 – 1969)
Succeeding Directors

  • Gary Herzog (1969 – 1980)

  • Theodore Hutler (1981 – 1983)

  • Robert Coughlin (1983 – 2008)

  • Gerald Bowden (2008 – 2014)

  • Walter Hopson (2014 – present)

Function

The Department of Juvenile Services provides housing for two separate programs:
  • The Children’s Center for neglected and abandon children;

  • The Juvenile Detention Center, for children, ages 7-18, charged with juvenile delinquency.
Additionally, the Department operates a day program for adjudicated delinquents.

History

Prior to the opening of the Ocean County Juvenile Shelter in 1968, children charged with a crime were secured in the County Jail or in the homes of employees of the Sheriff’s Department.

A Grand Jury investigation had determined that juveniles detained at the jail were held in “dungeon-like” conditions.

Initially this special Grand Jury recommended renovation of farmhouses on Old Freehold Road in Toms River to hold juvenile offenders.

Furthermore, it suggested that some work around the facilities could be provided by the older youths.

However, the State Division of Corrections of the Department of Institutions and Agencies rejected the proposal, specifying instead that juveniles be housed in a brick building with appropriate fire safety measures.

Shortly later the Freeholders appropriated $310,000 and retained an architect to design a shelter to be constructed on thirty-eight acres at the corner of Whitesville Road and Sunset Avenue in Toms River.

Originally, the new building housed two programs in two separate wings: the detention home for delinquent children and a home for neglected and abandoned children.

The detention wing consisted of sixteen rooms with steel bunks a kitchen, multi-purpose room, and classrooms, as well as administrative offices.

The shelter wing was more home-like with two bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and an apartment for the shelter’s house parents who also provided maintenance and food preparation for all residents.

In March 1974, the state legislation required that shelter residents, juveniles in need of supervision (JINS), be placed in a non-restrictive environment. As a result, a new JINS shelter was constructed adjacent to the existing facility.

This new building housed JINS from 1976 until 1983 when the shelter program was moved to a house on Chestnut Street.

The former JINS shelter on Sunset Avenue was remodeled to house female and work-release prisoners until 1995. Then, it was converted again to provide space for the Non-Secure Division of the Department of Juvenile Services which operates the children’s shelter, counseling, and day programs.


The Detention Center continued to house juvenile delinquents. However, along with the increase in the general county population, there came an increase in the Center’s juvenile population.


A $3.5 million expansion program in 1992 alleviated over-crowding by more than doubling the bed capacity at the Detention Center.