McCune center closes after decades of helping troubled boys - KCTV5

McCune center closes after helping troubled boys for more than a century

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© After 100-plus years, the McCune Residential Center at 21001 E U.S. 24 in Independence is closing. KEITH MYERS/The Kansas City Star © After 100-plus years, the McCune Residential Center at 21001 E U.S. 24 in Independence is closing. KEITH MYERS/The Kansas City Star
INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

McCune Residential Center is officially closing at the end of the year, but it's already empty.

Charles Johnson remembers skipping school 40 years ago, robbing a home, getting caught and being sent to the McCune School, as it used to be known.

"I didn't really appreciate what McCune had to offer when I was here," said Johnson of his six months spent living at McCune. "I went on to make poor choices in life that cost me 25 years of my life."

But looking back, Johnson realizes he learned a few things at McCune. After 25 years in prison, he now runs Pinpoint Consulting, where he works with at-risk boys, like those at McCune.

"Teaching young men how to make the right choices in life versus wrong choices, and the consequences that come with those," Johnson said.

Part of Johnson is sad to see the center go, even though a lot has changed.

"You didn't think you were in prison," said Johnson pointing to the ominous fences that greet people when they drive up to the center. "It was more of a school setting. I remember this time of year we'd sell Christmas trees down by the highway. That was our little fundraiser for guys who didn't have families, guys who needed things."

The other part of him knows McCune might have outlived its usefulness.

"There has to be a better way to rehabilitate than these barbed wire fences - they're kids. Do we have a kid that makes adult choices? Yes we do, so there are adult consequences," Johnson said.

Jackson County family court announced in October that McCune would shut down and merge with Hilltop Residential Center, citing decreased demand for secure residential care for boys. Johnson said he'll miss the time he spent with the young men he mentored there, and hopes they'll find the help they need.

"Some of the residents that have been released, that's what really gets me, when one of them comes up and says, 'thanks Mr. Johnson, I'm finally getting what you were saying,'" Johnson said.

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