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Office of Juvenile Affairs seeks new center

JULIE BISBEE, Capitol Bureau Modified: December 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm •  Published: July 18, 2009

Old buildings add to staffing costs
Juvenile Affairs’ three facilities are older and require additional staff to monitor offenders who are housed in areas not originally intended to be detention facilities. Because additional staff is needed to keep kids safe, the cost of operating the facilities is higher, Christian said.

At the L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs, the state’s maximum-security facility for juvenile offenders, it costs $292.51 per day, per bed. That figure includes the cost of staffing, changes made as a result of a recent federal lawsuit and the cost of mental health treatment and education programs, Christian said.

"In a new facility, we either have to manage more kids with the same staff, or the same amount of kids with less staff,” he said.

Union opposes privatization
Members of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and Rader employees attended the meeting. Sterling Zearley, executive director of the employees’ group, told board members employees are in favor of updating facilities but oppose any move to turn over management of the detention centers to a private group. Zearley said privatization would mean a loss of jobs for state employees and could compromise care given to juveniles.