Budget Cuts Impact Juvenile Justice

By Steven Sandberg

MEDFORD, Ore. — Some juvenile offenders from across county lines will now be held in Jackson County’s Juvenile Detention Facility. This comes as Josephine County’s facility was forced to close because of budget cuts.

Josephine County’s Juvenile Facility closed exactly one week ago because of a multi-million dollar budget gap. But the question became about how to keep the most serious juvenile offenders, or kids who need help, off the streets? For that, they turned to Jackson County.

Josephine County officials have agreed to rent three beds inside the Jackson County facility for about $145 per day. That’s in order to house those most serious juvenile delinquents. The contract officially begins July 1st, but two youths from Josephine County have already been moved to Jackson County.

Officials in Jackson County say it’s been a smooth transition so far. One of their major differences is needing to use video conferencing with Josephine County courts. But they said being 30 minutes away has its difficulties for families.

Josephine County Juvenile Justice has closed its detention and shelter operations and has cut back to just a handful of probation officers. Jackson County is currently staffed for 32 beds; as of Friday, they were only holding 21 juveniles in the building. This agreement is in place for one year, but, for example, if Josephine County passes a new tax levy this fall, they can opt-out of the agreement.