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Rock County could close juvenile detention center

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Ted Sullivan
August 4, 2009
— Rock County could close the juvenile detention center to cut costs next year in a tight budget, county officials said.

Rock County Human Services will provide an option of closing or partially closing the detention center to save up to $400,000, said Charmian Klyve, human services director.


The county would then rent beds in other counties to house Rock County juveniles, she said.


A secure transport company would be hired to move the juveniles, Klyve said.


Thirty employees work in the detention center, located near the Rock County Jail on Janesville's north side at Highway 14 and Highway 51.


The facility is divided into a secure side and shelter side, Klyve said. If only the secure side closed, about 15 people would be laid off. About 27 people would be laid off if the entire building closed, Klyve said.


"It's a struggle to figure out how to provide services with limited dollars. There aren't any easy answers," Klyve said. "None of these things are easy to undertake and consider, but we find ourselves in a unique and challenging environment."


The county has a $5.5 million budget shortfall, said Josh Smith, assistant to the county administrator.


Department heads were asked to submit budget proposals that require no tax levy increase, he said.


Human services proposed the idea of closing the detention center in its budget, but the county has made no final decisions, Smith said.


"As we've been telling people, we'd like to say all options are on the table," he said.


Human services needs to cut costs or increase revenue by $2.5 million, Klyve said.


Meanwhile, the demand for people in need of the department's help has increased during these difficult economic times, she said.


And, the cost to provide mental-health treatment to residents, benefits to employees and other services has increased, Klyve said.


The detention center is expected to cost $3.3 million to operate in 2010, about $350 a day per inmate.


Closing the detention center was proposed because the county is not required to keep it open, she said, and the facility's population has decreased.


The secure side of the detention center has 35 beds, but the average daily population in 2009 has been 15 juveniles.


The less-secure shelter side has 20 beds, but the average daily population in 2009 has been six juveniles.


Diversion programs such as drug or alcohol screening, anger management and others are credited for reducing the population, Klyve said. The programs reach kids early to help them avoid a life of crime.


Other juveniles have been on electronic monitoring or under intense supervision instead of in detention, she said.


County government departments will be submitting their budgets in the next couple weeks, Smith said.


The county administrator will review the budget and make recommendations to the county board in October.



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