Juvenile facilities

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The juvenile detention facility in Cape Girardeau that serves the 32nd Judicial Circuit needs to be replaced, juvenile officials and judges say. This echoes concerns raised in 2003 when a proposal was made to replace the facility, which houses offenders age 16 and under. At that time, county commissioners raised valid questions about the scope and cost of the proposed replacement facility, and the plan was never approved.

Meanwhile, the detention facility still has some serious defects. Measuring the need for and cost of a new facility is critical to the county commission's decision-making process. Commissioner Paul Koeper has suggested that the county hire an architect to draw up realistic plans that could be implemented when funding is available.

One source of that funding, as Commissioner Jay Purcell has suggested, might be to use funds currently designated for juvenile operations. Since 2000 the county has used about half of those funds. The unused portion goes to the county's general revenue fund each year. To date, more than $2 million of funding for juvenile operations has gone to general revenue.

The 32nd Judicial Circuit's prudent use of available funding has been commendable. A cost-effective plan to meet the needs of the future, it appears, would be well-received by county commissioners.

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