County officials support juvenile hall facility expansions | SierraSun.com
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County officials support juvenile hall facility expansions

JOHN A. BAYLESS

Juvenile crime is a problem which generally increases along with population, and Nevada County is no exception to the rule.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors has been considering various options for the financing of a new juvenile hall, to replace the current building which is now more than 30 years old.

Supervisors recently decided to place a proposal for a 1/8 cent sales tax to fund the county library system on the June ballot, because they found more grassroots support for the library tax than for a new juvenile hall.

“A poll done by consultants shows the library could win,” Supervisor Sam Dardick said. He said the county decided more research needed to be done on plans for a juvenile hall before submitting the issue to voters.

“The board decided much more work has to be done on the juvenile hall,” Dardick said. “We need to find a site and explore some other possible alternatives for funding.”

He said the current juvenile hall’s 19-bed capacity is now totally inadequate for the county, and there are long waiting lists to get into the hall in Nevada City.

“Because we can’t get them into the juvenile hall, they think they’re getting away scot-free,” Dardick said.

Truckee facility needed as well

Judge Andy Holmer of Truckee also said the county definitely needs a new juvenile hall.

“The issue is pretty simple,” Holmer said. “We have a juvenile hall designed to handle a county with much less population than we have. There’s a serious shortage of space because of that.”

Holmer explained that the hall is used for both dependency and delinquency cases.

“In abusive situations, the county can make you a dependent of the court,” Holmer said.

“Right now we leave one bed open each night in the hall until those cases can be placed in a foster home.”

Because of the long waiting list, the current hall is not serving its intended purpose for delinquents either, Holmer said.

“By the time we have room, the juvenile has either re-offended or else too much time has passed,” he said. “You don’t feel right putting juveniles away after they’ve completely turned their lives around.”

Holmer said the best response to juvenile delinquency is speedy discipline, and the current hall makes that difficult.

“The reality is that with a juvenile hall you want to get to them as early as you can and turn them around,” Holmer said.

“Juvenile hall is one of the best methods of accomplishing that.” He said new juvenile hall buildings are needed in both Nevada City and the Truckee area.

“This is no different than paying for roads and bridges,” Holmer said. “Some people might not view it that way, but that’s how it is.”

He said the needs of the area have

changed since the current juvenile hall was built.

“Our juvenile hall was built in the 1950s and ’60s to deal with the population then. Kids and their problems are different now. Life has changed, the county has changed and the rules have changed. We just have to deal with it.”

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