One Region 8 Juvenile Detention Center Closes It's Doors

August 09, 2004--Posted at 11:00 p.m. CDT

BATESVILLE--The rooms in the White River Juvenile Detention Center stand empty.

This 9000 square foot, 1.2 million dollar center was built in 1999 with a grant from the state, and other borrowed funds.

Now, the doors are closed.

David Wyatt is the Independence County Judge.

"The state used to put kids in there when they have overflows from Alexandria and places like that, and as long as that was happening that was part of the understanding they would use it also,"said Wyatt.

But it's not being used enough to keep operating.

Now, these counties have to take the juveniles somewhere else.

"They were either sent home, or whatever. Whatever county they belonged to had to pick them up, and relocate them,"said Wyatt.

There were only 8 kids in the facility when it closed. Some kids were sent to another center, but others...... "They are out on the street.....there's just no control over them,"said Jim Starzy.

Starzy was the administrator at the Juvenile Detention Facility.

The facility can hold up to thirty people, but it could re-open with as few as 14.

"The Department of Youth Services is trying to get numbers to see how many kids he could put in here, or give us an estimate of how many people we could get here to get the facility to reopen,"said Starzy.

The facility has a classroom, 2 teachers, several computers, and state of the art technology.

Starzy says this center is more than just a place to lock up troubled youth.

"Our job was to keep the children safe until they can get into a program. A lot of times we're the ones who protect kids from the community here,"said Starzy.