Bourbon County officials look at options for juvenile detention

County officials look for cheaper options
Bourbon County officials look at options for juvenile detention
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Juvenile detention has been the topic of conversation in Bourbon County lately.

Specifically.. what county officials can do to save money when it comes to choosing where to send offenders.

Since 1992, Bourbon County has been one of 11 counties that use the Southeast Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Girard.

Lynn Oharah, Bourbon County Commissioner:”We pay yearly a fee to operate this facility. And it varies from year to year.”

For 2019, that rate is *113* thousand dollars — no matter how many juveniles from Bourbon County are in the facility.

A number that’s been shrinking the last couple of years.

Oharah:”Right now, Bourbon County only has one person, one juvenile in detention. And that will probably be it.”

That decrease has happened because of state legislation passed in 2016, that makes it so sending a juvenile to a detention center is a last option.

Sheriff Martin says the stipulations for what they can send a juvenile to a detention center for are gonna become even more steep starting in July.

Bill Martin, Bourbon County Sheriff:”For a juvenile to be placed in a detention center, that juvenile has to have committed on off grid felony.. usually a homicide.”

Now officials are trying to find an option where they can have a contract to pay a daily rate per juvenile, to try and save tax payer dollars.

Oharah:”We’ve went out and reached out to other counties, and we did this last year in 2018. Last year in 2018 we had absolutely no one that wanted to participate with us. This year they have more people that are willing to step up and provide that facility because of the drastic reduction in incarceration rate.”

Martin:”But, the fallback on that is you’re having law enforcement leaving the jurisdiction to go somewhere else to place that child.”

Officials haven’t signed a contract yet for a facility.. and only have until July 1st to make a decision.

Martin:”The ultimate goal when dealing with juveniles is we don’t want to take the juveniles out of the homes instead of trying to get to courts involved and other resources and stuff. But sometimes it does take other resources. So, we have to look at the financial side of it.”

We talked with the director of the juvenile detention center in Girard, but he declined the opportunity to comment at this time.