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Detention center is an asset

It all started as a simple plan. Building a juvenile detention center for the county seemed like a way to help Dallas County strengthen its financial situation.

After all, the county was sending out more than $300,000 per year to Greensboro to house juvenile offenders that desperately needed guidance.

A meeting between Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard and District Judge Bob Armstrong got the ball rolling, and there has never been a regret.

The center, which unveiled expansions to community and state leaders Wednesday, has become a state-of-the-art facility capable of handling juvenile detainees from Dallas and surrounding counties.

The center has the potential to become a revenue producer for the county, which Ballard stressed was never the intention. But, if the opportunity is there, it is an added bonus.

There is also a more important bottom line associated with the juvenile detention center. Juvenile crime is on the decline. There are several programs in place that have had a positive impact on juvenile crime as well, but having the center in place has also helped tremendously.

In many cases, the parents, families and guardians  of juveniles had no way to get to Greensboro to show them there were still people in their corner. Offenders were isolated in a strange place with no one to tell  them they still believed in them. There was little motivation to make a personal change.

Now, Dallas County juveniles who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, can draw support from the employees at the center as well as their family and friends.

The county government and staff of the center are to be commended for their efforts to bring a facility like this to the area. The building is more than bricks and bars. It’s an opportunity for these young people to turn their lives around.