50 Years, 50 Stories

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Published Feb. 4, 2000, in The Ledger Independent

Faced with declining juvenile offender populations for the past several months, Jailer Roger Case has known the end was near for the juvenile section of the Mason County Detention Center.

The inevitable came at midnight Monday when Case was forced to close the facility after the population dropped to zero, he told members of Mason County Fiscal Court Thursday.

“That’s the bad news and that’s the bad news,” Case said. “Now we’re going to be faced with reality like every other county.”

The county added a 32-bed juvenile section to the detention center in 1994 and began accepting juveniles from throughout the state. Counties that used the facility paid Mason County $90 per day for each young offender who was house din the facility.

But changes in state law governing reimbursement to counties for keeping juvenile offenders reduced the number of inmates being housed in Mason County, Case said. The construction of state-run juvenile centers across the state also adversely affected the MCDC numbers, he said.

The opening of a state-operated juvenile facility in Campbell County last summer dealt the Mason County facility one of its hardest blows, Case said.

From a peak average of 29 to 30 prisoners a day, the juvenile population at the jail dropped to an average daily population of three in January, Case said.

“At that point, we felt it was pretty much a waste of time, money and personnel,” Case said. “It became obvious there was no sense in trying to stay open.”

The juvenile section of the detention center will now be converted to house adult prisoners, Case said. With the addition of the 32-bed section, the facility can now hold 117 prisoners, he said.

The county is currently approved to house state prisoners classified as Class D, Level 1 or 2, prisoners with a non-violent background who are eligible for work release. With the addition of the juvenile section, which is separate from the adult section of the detention center, Case hopes to begin accepting medium security Level 3 prisoners, those who are not eligible for work release.

The state reimburses the county $25 for Level 1 and 2 prisoners and $35 a day for Level 3 prisoners, Case said.

“Now, Level 1 and 2’s are getting few and far between,” Case said. “Level 3’s are pretty plentiful.

With he juvenile facility, revenue form the detention center totaled about $110,000 each month, Case said. “Now it will be about $60,000 a month,” he said. “Simple math will tell you for $90 to $25 a day is quite a difference.”

While the facility has generated enough revenue in the past to be self-sustaining, the loss of the juvenile section means that will no longer be true, Case said.

“Those days are over,” Case said.

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