Detention center opening in July

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

The need for a juvenile detention center in Dallas County came about as more than a way to help the local court system.

The new wing on the Dallas County Jail will eventually save money, and it is a way to look out for the best interest of the young people that will stay there.

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Some families were unable to make the drive to the Hale County detention center in Greensboro, one of the factors that prompted Ballard and the commission to consider building a local facility several years ago.

Depending on available space, juveniles also had to be transported other places around the state, sometimes as far away as Birmingham or Mobile.

In several cases, Ballard said, delinquent children who had committed serious offenses got off with a warning because there was no place to send them.

Between the overtime pay for transport officers, the cost of gas and the $100 boarding fee per juvenile, costs were piling up to the tune of $300,000 per year for the county.

By law, juveniles have to have a hearing within 72 hours of their detainment, which meant the same detainees were transported back and forth several times in a short time frame.

In addition to saving money, the county will eventually begin generating revenue by housing juveniles from other places.

The facility&8217;s opening date is projected sometime between July 7 and July 14.

The project was originally budgeted to cost $1 million, but has cost the county about twice that much. Ballard said the commission was able to fund the center without taking out a loan by using money from the general fund.

The center will have an LPN or RN on staff, and a doctor will visit at least once a week.

Male and female juveniles will be housed in two separate wings, and an officer will monitor all areas of the building from a central control room at all times.

Certified teachers will teach juveniles anger management, how to deal with stress and counsel them on drugs and alcohol.