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Monday, November 12, 2012 6:25 PM

Out-of-county juvenile offenders on the rise

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer

Franklin County’s increase in out-of-county juvenile offenders may be benefitting the county, Ethel Wallace said.

Reimbursements to Franklin County from other counties forced to house their excess juvenile offenders has increased, Wallace, Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center director, said.

“The total amount was $43,398.62, which is up from the second quarter that was a little over $31,000,” Wallace told members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners at their weekly meeting Wednesday. Wallace reports the status of the Juvenile Detention Center, 226 S. Beech St., Ottawa, to the board quarterly.

By increasing the facility’s capacity to 14 cells — with an option to house as many as 28 youths — Franklin County is expected to save money by not sending detainees outside the county, local officials have said. The additional space also allows neighboring counties the option to house offenders in the county.

Osage, Anderson and Miami counties housed juveniles at the detention center in the past three months, Wallace said. The facility housed 13 Osage County juveniles for 165 days, resulting in a $15,470 reimbursement. Six Miami County juveniles were detained for 26 days, resulting in a $2,730 reimbursement. The center housed four Anderson County juveniles for 26 days for a $520 reimbursement.

Not all the money expended by the detention center was able to be reimbursed, however, Wallace said. In the third quarter, $7,020 was deemed unable to be collected, Wallace said, which is an increase from the second quarter. That is because the parents of some repeat juvenile offenders were not able to cover the costs of their detention.

“We had a lot of juveniles that are in for 30 days or more repeatedly, and they are Franklin County, so their parents are billed,” Wallace said. “And their parents are struggling with unemployment and things like that, so the reason for the increase.”

The detention center housed 15 Franklin County juvenile offenders a total of 237 days in the third quarter.

The board voted unanimously to approve the write-offs, or amount unable to be collected, for the third quarter.

Since the new facility opened in early June — moving from its old Main Street location — Wallace said her staff has been hard at work.

“Overall, things have been pretty busy and steady. We’ve been running anywhere between six and nine juveniles in at a time,” Wallace told the board. “I think we’re all settling into the building now, and things are going pretty smoothly.”

There were 70 recorded intakes for the third quarter, with 38 juvenile offenders spending at least one bed day in the facility. The remaining 32 intakes were recorded as status offenders or non offenders, according to the report. Twenty-four juveniles were detained on felony offenses, and 36 were detained for misdemeanors.

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