Detention Center expansion complete

Published 9:03 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard and other leaders gathered Wednesday to cut the ribbon on new additions to the Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center. The center added four new beds and a recreational facility. The center serves several counties in and around the Black Belt. -- Rick Couch

Though Dallas County’s juvenile detention center has been considered one of the state’s best facilities, director Marcus Hannah said there was one element missing.

Wednesday, another piece to the puzzle officially opened as local and state leaders gathered to cut the ribbon on the center’s new recreation facility.

The $374,000 addition, which included four new beds and the recreation area, was on display for those who toured the facility.

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The new additions, director Marcus Hannah said, is the result of many people working toward a common goal.

“This would not have happened if it was not for our county commission and our probate judge,” he said. “Anything we have asked for, they have come through. When you have a commission that you can work with and a commission that can see your vision, that’s one of the greatest things you can have.”

One of the most positive aspects of the new addition, Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said, is the county did not have to go in debt to make it a reality. The building, which is paid for, was funded steadily throughout the process.

The building was first proposed, Ballard said, during a meeting with District Judge Bob Armstrong.

“This vision started with informal discussions between Judge (Bob) Armstrong and myself, and I did not buy into it right away because it required an expenditure of $2 million we didn’t have,” he said. “The good Lord, good financial planning and a lot of other things came together and I did buy into the vision.”

The facility, Ballard said, has paid for itself in the money it saved the county on transporting juvenile detainees to Greensboro. In the past, Ballard said the county transported juveniles at a cost of $300,000 per year and were only given one bed. Often, juveniles could not be sent to the facility and committed other crimes before they appeared in court for their initial charge.

The additions, Ballard said, also allows family members to visit young people instead of finding ways to get to Greensboro.

Since the facility first opened, Ballard said the juvenile crime rate has been affected.

“The juvenile crime rate has been greatly and positively affected by this facility being here,” he said. “I told (the commission) this would pay for itself in a short period of time.

“All the credit goes to those guys for going along with the proposal.”

District Attorney Michael Jackson agreed.

“I remember when we didn’t have this, and there has been a big difference,” he said.

“A lot of crimes these days are committed by young people and you need a facility like this, especially for the people you can really help.”

The facility serves Dallas, Marengo, Wilcox, Autauga Greene and Pickens counties, Hannah said.

Making these expansions possible, Hannah said, is the product of teamwork at its best.

“As a whole, it took all of our team to make this happen today,” he said. “It took a total team effort to make this thing come together.”

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