The Douglas County Commission should reconsider plans to build a juvenile detention facility in Lawrence, a state legislator said Tuesday.
Rep. Forrest Swall, D-Lawrence, said the cost of constructing and operating the proposed center in North Lawrence would be excessive.
"The whole issue needs to be examined," Swall said. "The commission needs to cut the size of the facility and emphasize different kinds of programs to keep kids from being detained."
Swall said the facility's size should be cut from 14 beds to no more than seven beds.
Commissioner Mark Buhler said today that it was too late to dramatically modify plans for the Northeast Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center, which will house juvenile offenders from 14 counties in northeast Kansas.
"At this point, I'm not sure that's an option for us," he said.
The center will cost about $1.5 million, with 90 percent of the tab picked up by the state and the remainder being split among the counties it serves. The counties will be responsible for any cost exceeding $1.5 million.
The center is to be located south of the Kansas Turnpike, about a block east of Third Street.
The project has been delayed by flooding at the construction site in North Lawrence. Meanwhile, construction bids on the center came in over budget.
Commissioners will discuss how to deal with the center's budget at a meeting at 7 tonight in the Douglas County Courthouse.
State law requires that juvenile and adult prisoners be housed in separate facilities. Currently, local juvenile offenders are taken to facilities in other cities, such as Hutchinson.
Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said deputies sometimes make three trips a day transporting the county's juvenile offenders back and forth.
Buhler said northeast Kansas needs a juvenile detention facility.
"We think we're in compliance now," he said. "But the new facility would allow us to better serve the state's mandates."