Special to the JA
The Jackson community, including city and county officials, celebrated the renaming of the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center, located at 940 East McDowell Road, Jackson, MS to the Henley-Young-Patton Juvenile Justice Center on Friday, June 17. Judge Houston Patton, who passed January 12, 2020, served as a Hinds County Court judge for 25 years, making him the longest serving judge in the history of Hinds County, and his most notable contributions centered around his influence and dedication as a Youth Court Judge.
The renaming was made possible by various stakeholders in the Jackson/Hinds County community, including Judge Patton’s family and the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. The renaming ceremony included an unveiling of Judge Patton’s portrait and a ribbon cutting in front of the building with new signage, bringing big smiles and joy to Judge Patton’s family including his wife, Johnnie Patton, and daughter, April.
The center’s lobby was packed with those who admired and loved Judge Patton. Judge LaRita Stokes called Judge Patton “a man among men” who saw “no big I’s and little U’s.” Below are tributes to a man who impacted the lives of many:
“I am one of those folks that The Honorable Judge Houston Patton touched and certainly moved in the right direction,” expressed Marshand Crisler, former Hinds County Sheriff and interim executive director of the renamed justice center. “I came up in Presidential Hills, and Judge Patton was a part of my village, which, unfortunately, in these days is a foreign concept. That village helped me navigate through some challenging times as an urban youth. I was able to grow up and be productive and be in law enforcement some 20 something years.
“[Judge Patton] was certainly a giant in the community when it comes to law. And I certainly miss him. I’m honored to be here as the director and honored that the name now has the name of a true giant in my life,” Crisler continued.
Ginger Smith, the teacher for the juvenile justice center’s school, said, “Number one, [Judge Patton] protected them. He protected the children that came before his court. The next thing, he provided for them. He made sure that they were going to have everything that they needed. One of the things that was dear to his heart was their school. I ran the school and he wanted those children to learn how to read…The next thing, he disciplined them. If you were back in that detention center, you went to school every day. If you didn’t want to go to school, you worked.”
She tells a story about how Judge Patton and the youth in the detention center planted flowers on the outside of the building, and they are still blooming to this day.
“He instituted a parent training program to train the parents how to take care of their kids…I would tell people there will never be another Houston Patton because he was someone special.”
Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee conveyed, “[Judge Patton] didn’t know that he would spark an interest in me that would later come to fruition 30 years later with his wife standing beside me every step of the way, just like she did for him. He [had] no idea that he’s the reason why I majored in political science at Tougaloo. He [had] no idea that him becoming a judge sparked my interest in becoming a law clerk while he was a judge at the Hinds County Courthouse.
“He [had] no idea [that] when he started his school, I would later come in and do push-in programs at the juvenile detention center. And he [had] no idea that 30 years later, I’d be an elected official just like him. He [had] no idea how much he sparked that interest in me.”
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba also made comments at the event. “The impression that I was left with was one of someone who had love for our city, who had love for his community. And so it is appropriate that we recognize him as being a part of Jackson and Hinds County’s history forever. He will be forever etched into our history.”
He continued, “It stands to reason that the things we name and what we call ourselves have great purpose and great meaning…When we think of the naming of this facility, and we think about the young people that come in this facility, and we think about it holding the name of Judge Patton, then we know that it must uphold the values and principles and love that he demonstrated.”
The Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center is a multi-purpose facility designed to provide a safe and secure short-term care and custody for juveniles who may have violated the law.