THE SALINA JOURNAL GREAT PLAINS FRIDAY. MAY 29. 1998 AB T JUVENILE JUSTICE Juvenile detention centers filled Many of the youths who are detained don't need to be, officials say By DAVID CLOUSTON TlteSaltna Journal Few beds are open in Kansas' 14 county juvenile detention centers, including the one in Saline County.' "The beds are just full everywhere," Harvey County Sheriff Byron L. Hotter said Thursday. "Two weeks ago, I called nine different juvenile detention facilities in the state and all of them were full." In the eyes of some officials, the transfer of supervision of youth offenders from the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to the state's Juvenile Justice Authority is filling county juvenile detention centers with youths who don't need to be confined. The problem lies with youths supervised by the youth authority, often ones who've committed misdemeanor crimes and don't need to be locked up. But if the youths are deemed a danger to themselves or if they lack a family to go home to, many find themselves in juvenile detention until a spot in a group home opens up. The Saline County Juvenile Detention Center regularly gets inquiries from other law agencies about housing juveniles. The number of beds free at any given time in the 10-bed center is limited. "Yesterday we were the only center in the state to have two open beds," Undersheriff Carl Kiltz said. T SUPREME COURT "Yesterday we were the only center in the state to have two open beds" Carl Kiltz Saline County undersheriff Both were filled with juveniles from other jurisdictions. "We turned one of them back over today because we needed the bed ourselves," Kiltz said. Saline County's center operates at or near capacity 90 percent of the time, officials say. As of Thursday, all the other juveniles incarcerated were accused of crimes such as rape, burglary, property damage and parole violations. Saline County charges other counties more to house juveniles than adults — a day rate of $125 compared to $45 for adult prisoners housed in the Saline County Jail — because juveniles require more supervision, more special programs and must be furnished with different food, such as milk, Kiltz said. No obligation to help out In the past couple of weeks, law agencies from the across the state have been calling the Southwest Juvenile Detention Center in Garden City, trying to find bed space for kids waiting for their criminal court cases to be resolved. Although he could, facility director Wes Jennings isn't eager to fill the 28-bed center with offenders from outside his region. His facility serves 16 counties in three judicial districts. "We have admitted three or four today, with some agreements that they'll be removed on short notice if we need the space," he said. "There's kind of a balance in that. But we have no obligation to take care of the rest of the state." "The (private) providers aren't obligated to provide services to the Juvenile Justice Authority." Jennings said it's not uncommon to have juvenile detention facilities filled. "But this is awfully early (in the summer) to have every place in the state full," he said. "This could be the beginning of a long summer." Searching for alternatives Assistant Juvenile Justice Authority Commissioner Richard Kline, Topeka, said it's not accurate to blame the problem on the transition of services to the authority from SRS. County detention centers are used in some cases for short-term placements, he said. But historically there always has been a problem in Kansas getting enough out-of-home placements. "Clearly there is the need to expand bed capacity for out-of-home placements;" Kline said. "We're looking at alternatives." Since privatization took effect, some group homes that formerly took juvenile offenders are concentrating more on accepting children in need of care for abuse or neglect. "I think they (juvenile justice) were relying on the same providers but what's happened is the caseloads — the number coming in from abuse and neglect cases — are gobbling up resources," Dan Eigsti, senior vice president for United Methodist Youthville in Newton, said. United Methodist Youthville's residential facility, with 138 beds, is used to take both juvenile offenders and children in need of care, but the latter has taken precedence. "Our initial response was we'll sign the contracts, but we may or may not accept juvenile offenders because we're involved with children in need of care," he said. Sedgwick County recently got a grant for $515,000 to purchase capacity from more providers for out-of-home placements, said Denise Musser, public information coordinator for the juvenile authority. "We know we need to expand capacity, but we don't know if it's a problem in all areas," she said. CARROL HAMILTON! Roofing Company Since 7962 Free Estimates, All Work Guaranteed U.800-664-4637 • 765-452-9224 BILLS DEBT 6th Pool & Spa At «:jo Prizes Chicken, Spare Ribs and Sausage Submit Entries To : " . Crawford Sallna, Kansas CONSOLIDATE $10,000 ^$110/mo? $50,000 - $550/mo ' NO EQUITY REQUIRED Homeowners Only NATIONWIDE \ 1 E NOING COR 1-800-819-7010 Or Visit Our Websltel www.natlonwldelendlng.com"-; >-* TO BECOME A SALINAt JOURNAL SUBSCRIBER, CALL 823-6363 ; OR 1-800-827-6363 : the Salina Journal'. Gourt hears arguments on racetrack bonding law By AMY LIGNITZ The Associated Press TOPEKA — An attorney representing about 30 people who own property on the site of a proposed auto speedway asked the Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday to stop the project. But if legislation that makes financing easier for the Wyandotte County project passes constitutional muster, attorney Joe Borich asked that the court ensure that displaced residents get 125 percent of their property's value, as is written in the law. The law, drafted by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Bill Graves during the 1998 session, changes state law so the unified Wyandotte County-Kansas City, Kan., government can have more flexibility in issuing bonds for the speedway project. Government officials said the change was needed to bring the speedway to Kansas. Wyandotte County District Attor- ney Nick Tomasic supports the law, but is challenging it to test its constitutionality and have it interpreted. Some of the residents who would be displaced by the track oppose it. Lawmakers provided that they be compensated at a rate of 125 percent of the appraised value of their property. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Martin argued Thursday against the 125 percent compensation rate, saying it violates laws providing for just compensation and equal protection. Martin said the law does not allow for overpayment, and that such a payment goes against protecting other taxpayers. "That's what the court's going to decide, what's just compensation," he said. Chief Justice Kay McFarland posed the question that if only one property owner was displaced and a governmental unit wanted to pay that person 150 percent, "are you saying that's unconstitutional?" iL£.u \ c~)aiii£.a fa As of June 1 Looking forward to seeing you at our New Location 724 Washington Call 825-8253 lor appointment. 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