ROY -- Narrow hallways, cramped living areas and constant maintenance are just a few of the problems pointed out by staff at the Weber Valley Detention Center.
Built in 1965, it is one of the state's oldest and smallest juvenile detention sites and in need of a major upgrade.
The Office of Juvenile Justice Services is proposing a new Mulitiuse Youth Center that would consolidate several programs into one building as well as provide a more modern and secure detention facility.
The current location in Roy near 5600 South and 2700 West is too old and is too small to keep up to capacity. The facility currently houses 24 beds, both for male and female. However, the center receives an average of three new youths every day, with some having to be transported to another facility farther away.
"It means an officer is not available because they're transporting someone to our Farmington facility," Detention Center Director Tracy Hart said.
The planned new location would allow the center to double its capacity.
Other improvements needed include a larger lobby and more visiting rooms. The current layout only allows for two visiting rooms in full view of the lobby, which is more of a hallway.
"There's just not a lot of privacy for visits," Hart said. "Having several more rooms will allow for longer visits."
One issue that affects security is the need for more visibility for staff to monitor detainees throughout the facility. The bedrooms are located down two long halls that are dimly lit, don't lend enough visibility and even contain some blind spots.
Program Director Dorie Farah said they would prefer the rooms to be organized in a rectangular space, which would allow a central terminal to monitor these areas.
One thing staff would like to do, but can't in the current facility, is to keep categories of youth separated. Right now boys and girls are kept separate as best as can be, but other groups that are in contact are first-time offenders and repeat offenders, Hart said. Keeping these categories of detainees separate is to the benefit of rehabilitating the first-time offenders, she said.
The inability to sort youths by age, risk level and behavioral issues is a factor in which the new facility is being designed.
Another safety issue is the fact that the facility, including the outdoor gathering area, is fully exposed to the public, and only a chain link fence separates the detainees from the outside world. From the yard, a residential area is in full view. Although there have been no reported incidents, someone could easily slip contraband through the fence, Hart said.
Along with a revamped detention center, the new building would also house a receiving center for at-risk youths, a diversion program providing early intervention programs and transition services for youths leaving residential placement.
Farah said that consolidating these programs that are each located in separate locations it will save $390,000 every year in lease and operation costs.
Officials from Ogden City and Weber County have appealed to state lawmakers to make funding for the building a priority. The Office of Juvenile Justice Services has been seeking funding for the building for nearly 10 years.
They're already looking at a piece of property near the Weber County Sheriff's Office on 12th Street that would be ideal, Farah said.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @SE_Andreas.