Weber County needs a new juvenile detention center and it should be a high priority for state lawmakers. Twelve million dollars is being petitioned for a detention center on 12th Street in Ogden near the Weber County Sheriff's Office.
There's a fiscal reason for building a new center. Under the county's current arrangement, the old, small center in Roy houses only 24 beds. It's routine for juvenile offenders to be shipped elsewhere, usually to a Farmington facility. That helps waste taxpayers' money. With a new detention, with room for 48 beds, officials say that almost $400,000 can be saved in annual operating and lease costs.
And just as important, there's a safety factor in having a new detention center for Weber County. With the current Roy detention center, youths cannot be separated. That means that potentially the most violent youth offenders are close to non-violent offenders. That should never be tolerated. A detention center should never be a place where its cramped surroundings means someone can be terrorized.
Also, the planned larger center will be easier to monitor with cameras. The Roy facility, with smaller rooms outside a long, narrow hallway, are dimly lit. There is poor visibility as well as blind spots. The new detention center is expected to have a rectangular shape, with a central terminal for cameras to monitor it.
Finally, investing in a new detention center will allow more programs for those youths who have to spend time there. There would be early-intervention diversion programs for youths, a receiving center for at-risk youth and better transition services for youths when they leave the detention center.
It's been 48 years since the current Weber County juvenile detention center was built. It's too small and does not have the facilities to even be adequate. This is a no-brainer. After nearly half a century, $12 million must be allocated for a new center.