Topeka Three Douglas County officials expressed their strong support for a juvenile detention facility to be built in Lawrence at a state-level public forum today.
Sheriff Loren Anderson, County Commissioner Louie McElhaney and Jim Baze, chairman of the juvenile subcommittee for community corrections, each spoke to the Advisory Commission on Juvenile Offender Programs, which heard comments from several Kansas counties on a consultant's proposal for additional juvenile detention facilities to be built around the state.
On Sept. 13, Lawrence was recommended as the site for a 14-bed, 9,100-square-foot facility to serve 18 counties in northeast Kansas by the Westridge Group Inc., a consulting company hired by the state.
A DECISION on Lawrence's selection was contingent on the testimony of other counties, said Sen. Nancy Parrish, D-Topeka, who chaired the hearing. However, the decision could come as early as this afternoon, she said, if the hearing went smoothly.
McElhaney said the county commission was a strong supporter of constructing a regional facility in Lawrence.
"In virtually every evaluation category, from distance for transportation to availability of community services, Douglas County presents the greatest opportunity to meet the juvenile detention needs of this region of the state," he said.
But McElhaney pointed out that the county commission was concerned with the costs of the facility. He asked the advisory commission to push for 100 percent state financing to build the facility as well as state assistance with its operating costs along with the participating counties.
THE FACILITY is estimated to cost $1.5 million to build and $500,000 annually to operate.
The center is scheduled to be built by 1993 to comply with a federal law that forbids juveniles being jailed with adults.
Anderson pledged the support of nine of the 18 counties for Lawrence as the site and added he had not heard objections from the other nine counties.
Baze stressed the importance of other detention alternatives to augment the construction of the facility. These alternatives include attendant care and home detention.