Demolition on Fresno County's old Juvenile Hall begins

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Friday, June 21, 2019
Demolition on Fresno County's old Juvenile Hall begins
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Fresno Unified completed a $1.2 million purchase of the site and the district plans to build a new school in its place.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Section by section, a dark portion of city history is being torn down.

The old Juvenile Hall sat right in the middle of Southeast Fresno on Ventura. Neighborhood kids grew up being told you don't want to end up there.

"This old concrete building behind us was a testament to a period of time when our children were regularly sent down a path of loss and despair," said Claudia Cazares.

Elijah Haqq was nine when was he sent to a crowded Juvenile Hall for stealing a bike. He never could break the prison cycle.

"If you ain't got nobody to teach you, they're not giving you any books or anything," he said. "Here they never gave you any books and never gave you anything to read so you had to do whatever you gotta do."

The tearing down of all the buildings on this 12-acre property can't erase the painful memories, but the demolition can help Fresno Unified build for the future.

"We're talking about utilizing this space for an alternative ed campus for kids on the margin," said superintendent Bob Nelson. "Instead of a place where kids on the margin got locked up, we're going to create a place where kids on the margin, we double down on their success."

Demolition can't come soon enough for the community.

It will cost the district $800,000 to clear away the entire parcel. The demolition project should be complete in December.