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Sheriff's office and Juvenile Court explore policies on underage inmates

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How long should an underage criminal be kept in a jail cell?

Buena Vista County Law Enforcement and Juvenile Court officials expect to come together today for a roundtable dicussion with a criminal juvenile justice planning official to answer that question.

Buena Vista County Sheriff Gary Launderville says local officials want a better understanding of policies concerning juveniles held at the local jail.

The jail was planned in part to allow juvenile and female prisoners to be held, since the former facility made it impossible to isolate such prisoners from the general population.

But Launderville said under federal mandates, they have not been allowed to keep juveniles in a locked or secured holding areas. In 2008 the Law Enforcement Center's juvenile records were audited and there were a few cases were juveniles were held at the jail longer than allowed by federal mandates. Launderville says there was some confusion between state and federal regulations, but that the local officials were unaware they had violated policy until the jail was audited. Launderville invited representatives from the County Board of Supervisors to sit in on the meeting.

Launderville also met with U.S. Marshal officials last week about possibly holding federal prisoners in the Storm Lake facility; it is unclear how many prisoners would be transported here, since the closet federal courtroom is in Sioux City. Launderville hopes that housing federal inmates could bring in more revenue, and says he has started some paperwork for the process and anticipates it will take a couple of months to documentation and approvals complete.



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