GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. (News Release)- Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick announced Thursday he is studying options concerning the future operations of the county’s juvenile detention center to ensure taxpayers’ money is efficiently spent and the community is properly served.
Sheriff McCormick said he has been working for the past six months with County Judge Darryl Mahoney and Circuit Court Judge Wade Naramore, who adjudicates juvenile cases, on future ways to house the county’s juvenile offenders.
Because of the Circuit Court’s comprehensive reforms of the county’s juvenile justice system, the juvenile detention center houses about half the full capacity. Currently, there are on average eight to 12 juveniles housed in the facility, which is designed to hold 22 youths.
“The juvenile detention population has declined to a point where it is no longer feasible to operate as we have in the past,” Sheriff McCormick said. “I am a steward of the taxpayers’ dollars and I must ensure that we maintain the greatest efficiencies”.
Sheriff McCormick said, “It has become too costly to maintain the facility with full staffing with half of the number of juveniles the detention center was designed to hold”. He said his options include maintaining operations as they are now, downsizing the current facility, build a newer center or transfer juveniles to other facilities in the state.
Judge Naramore’s reforms of the county’s juvenile justice system reduced the number of juveniles detained by implementing diversion programs, which has successfully rehabilitated 90 percent of the participating youths. These programs allowed the court to shift resources to high risk and more dangerous youth. As a result, there was a 37 percent reduction in juvenile crime countywide since the implementation of the program.
Judge Naramore also offered inclusive training to all seven Garland County school districts and law enforcement agencies in the best practices to provide early, school-based intervention.
“As long as I have been sheriff I have maintained my promise to the people that I will make operations more efficient, provide resources to Sheriff’s Department employees to allow them to do their jobs and ensure our communities remain safe,” Sheriff McCormick said.
“These proposals will be discussed during the upcoming budget hearings before the county Quorum Court,” Sheriff McCormick said. “This will be a tough decision to make and I hope to receive ideas from county residents.