The Office of Juvenile Affairs is asking its board of directors to approve a request for proposals to determine the cost private vendors would charge to build a new juvenile detention facility in the state.
To pay for that construction or to lease a facility, the agency would have to shut down one or more existing detention centers or get additional funding from a cash-strapped Legislature. Members of the agency’s board listened to a lengthy presentation during their monthly meeting Friday about the need for a new facility and the possibility of a private group building a detention facility with up to 150 beds for juvenile offenders. The board took no action. The discussion is one in a series about the possibility of leasing a facility from a private company. The board is expected to decide whether to issue a request for proposals at its September meeting. The board also is considering a proposal that would allow a private company to manage juvenile detention facilities. Any proposal for private construction or management would not be finalized until spring when the Legislature is in session and could authorize the funding, said Gene Christian, Office of Juvenile Affairs executive director. "I don’t advocate one way or another,” Christian said. "At this point it’s impossible to do because we don’t have all the information to make the decision.” Requesting proposals would allow the board to see the price a company might charge for construction or management.
Old buildings add to staffing costsJuvenile Affairs’ three facilities are older and require additional staff to monitor offenders who are housed in areas not originally intended to be detention facilities.