Detention center moves forward with approved budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

The approval of an operating budget for the Dallas County juvenile detention center has solidified plans for opening the facility.

Director Marcus Hannah said the project’s completion is on schedule for its target date of July 7.

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The county has budgeted more than $272,000 for the detention center, money for lodging youths, paying staff salaries and paying travel expenses and overtime for police officers.

“Anywhere from $45,000 to probably $60,000 of this budget is a one-time buy,” Hannah said “It should last us five to 10 years before we have to revisit it again.”

That includes a table for nurses and doctors, computers and washers and dryers for both the male and female side of the center.

The Department of Youth Services will offset some of the budget costs by paying $800 per bed once the facility opens. Youth services could also provide additional funding to help with costs, according to Hannah.

Four detention center employees have qualified for the on-the-job training program through Selma CareerLink that would pay half their salaries, and a fifth employee is eligible. The program would reimburse the county for a maximum of $23,500 in those employees’ payroll during the next six months.

The 20-bed facility – 12 males and eight females – would house local youths and those from surrounding counties.

For several years, Dallas County transported juveniles to Hale County. Probate Judge Kim Ballard said the new center would try to stay out of direct competition with Hale County.

“We’re trying to stay out of Hale County’s territory,” Kim Ballard. “We’re not trying to put Hale County out of business. We’ve paid them a whole lot of money over the years, but they’ve been good to us, too.”

Hannah is in contract talks with Autauga, Wilcox, Marengo and Lowndes counties to transport juveniles and house them here.

Hannah said the new center would stay away from transporting juveniles in areas north of Dallas County.

A staff of 18 to 20 people is still being put together, and they have to have 40 hours of initial training before the center can be fully operational. A minimum of 180 hours of training is required by youth services for the entire year.