Buena Vista County officials this week that they had left some important people out of the discussion when they recently decided to contact with a youth detention center in Eldora for cost savings as compared to the current YES Center used in Cherokee.
After meeting with County Juvenile Probation Officer Robert Fritz, supervisors said they now will continue to utilize the Cherokee site. However, they still hope to used the Eldora program to save some costs on youth staying longer periods of time in deterntion.
Currently the YES Center charges $150/day per night per youth, compared to $80 at the new facility at Eldora, which is about three hours away.
Supervisor Dale Arends said when the invitation to join the Eldora facility came along they jumped on it for the lower rates, however, he says they had neglected to include some key people in the decision-making process.
Arends said after meeting with Fritz this week they have a better idea of how the juvenile court system works and what goes into deciding what level of treatment may be best for a juvenile offender.
Fritz and Judge Mark Timko work closely with the youth and know their situations well.
Their insight helps to decide where a juvenile should be placed, and whether they would be best served in the home or in juvenile detention, supervisors learned.
Arends said the new BV County Jail was built to be federally certified to hold juvenile prisoners if necessary. Since the jail has not needed to hold federal prisoners to this point, it has been operating more under state regulations.
Sheriff Elect Gary Launderville said in late July 2008 their juvenile records were audited and they found cases where four juveniles had been held longer than six hours, which would be against federal regulations, Launderville says. The department was unaware that they were going against federal regulations until they were audited. Under state regulations they can hold juveniles for around 24 hours.
Launderville said under federal regulations they are not allowed to keep juveniles in a locked or secured holding area and so they have to supervise the juvenile prisoner while waiting for someone to transport the juvenile to the Cherokee detention center. Launderville said often times an intoxicated juvenile will be released to the parent.
However, he says if a teenbecomes unruly they may hold them and contact juvenile court services to see if the juvenile should be transported to a detention center. The Cherokee Yes Center won't take juveniles if they are intoxicated but the Eldora facility will as long as they are medically sound.
Arends said it doesn't make much sense to transport a juvenile all the way to Eldora before the juvenile has seen the judge, however, if a juvenile will be housed for an extended time, the option could save taxpayer dollars.
"We were operating under some misconceptions before yesterday," said Arends. He said he feels the supervisors now have a better understanding of the court system and say they want to provide what's best for both the juveniles and the taxpayers.