JDC to close

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
The Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office will soon close the Juvenile Detention Center. Local juvenile offenders will be housed at a facility in neighboring Wyandotte County.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office is closing the county’s Juvenile Detention Center.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke said the county will save money by contracting with Wyandotte County to house local juvenile offenders.

Dedeke hopes to make the transition March 1.

Located in the city of Leavenworth, the JDC opened in the early 1990s. The facility came under the control of the Sheriff’s Office in 2018.

During the last few years, the Sheriff’s Office has reviewed the operation of the JDC, keeping an eye of the daily juvenile population of the facility. Dedeke said changes in law have resulted in reductions to the population.

He said there has been a trend in utilizing services and programs in hope of correcting the behavior of juveniles instead of keeping them in custody.

Dedeke said the JDC can house up to seven juveniles. But typically, there is only one or two in custody at the facility.

He said the JDC often goes days or weeks without any juveniles being housed there.

Even without any juveniles at the facility, it costs in excess of $2,000 per day to operate the JDC.

He said Leavenworth County will be charged $150 per day for each local juvenile who is housed at a facility in Wyandotte County.

Dedeke said Leavenworth County should save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by utilizing Wyandotte County to house juvenile offenders.

Dedeke said Leavenworth County had an impromptu trial run of relying on Wyandotte County to house juveniles last year when the Juvenile Detention was temporarily closed after staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“It worked out well for us,” Dedeke said. “It worked out well for Wyandotte County.”

Dedeke said JDC has 13 staff members. He said the Sheriff’s Office has extended offers of other positions within the department to the JDC employees. Four of the employees have taken other positions in the Sheriff’s Office. The others are looking at other positions within the county government or elsewhere.

The JDC houses juvenile offenders from the 1st Judicial District, which includes Atchison County. Dedeke said Wyandotte County will accept juveniles from Atchison County. But Atchison County officials can pursue other options if they choose.

Leavenworth County will continue to handle intake services for local juvenile offenders. The Community Corrections department in Leavenworth County will be taking on these duties.

During a work session Wednesday, county commissioners discussed adding staff to Community Corrections to help with the additional burden.

Dedeke said the intake services will be conducted in the lower level of JDC building. He said options are being considered for the future use of the second floor of the JDC.

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