Groundbreaking Held for New Juvenile Justice Center
From the Unified Government:
Construction crews are breaking up concrete and tearing down retaining walls in the parking lot located behind the Wyandotte County Correctional and Court Services (Court Services) building located at 812 N. 7th Street. The concrete demolition and removal process are in preparation for the construction of a new $27.2 million Wyandotte County Juvenile Justice Center.
Unified Government officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking today to recognize the official start of construction. When completed by the first quarter of 2020, the new facility will provide more effective and efficient services for juveniles in an environment that positively influences their mental and physical behaviors.
“The name of our new facility demonstrates our commitment and support for our young people in this community. We are about justice which holds people accountable but will also provide opportunities for young offenders to get their lives back on track and become positive members of Wyandotte County. This facility will create an environment that will give a much better chance for young people to learn from their mistakes, alter their behavior, and return to their families and community as responsible and productive citizens,” says David Alvey, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.
The new juvenile center will have approximately 47,000 sq. ft. of space covering three separate floors, which will be utilized for juvenile detention, administration and programming.
The current Juvenile Detention Center arrangement consists of approximately 39,500 sq. ft. of space covering three separate floors within one housing unit. The area is also in the same facility as adult inmates. This is an outdated and problematic arrangement that’s been in place since 1990 for juveniles that require short-term secure detention.
While efforts have been made to maintain sight and sound separation between juveniles and adults, the current arrangement creates operational challenges because the juveniles occupy a large portion of a housing unit that could be used for adults. This was even more problematic several years ago when at least 150 adult inmates were being farmed out daily to other facilities due to overcrowding, which causes an increase in farm out costs.
“From a purely fiscally responsible position, it’s more cost effective and efficient to do this. There will be an initial cost for this facility, but it will not be any additional ongoing cost because we’re going to have the same staff and provide the same services and equipment to operate in the new juvenile facility,” says Sheriff Ash.
Sheriff Ash met with members of the Criminal Justice Collaborative over an eight-year period reviewing and studying all aspects of the criminal justice system in Wyandotte County. The committee had representation from the District Attorney’s Office, various Commissioners, three different Mayor’s, police department and the county administrator’s office. They explored various options for funding the construction of a new facility and as well as recommendations for repurposing the current space for adults.
“The groundbreaking on this Juvenile Services Center is the result of several years of study, analysis, and evaluation of more effective strategies for dealing with juvenile offenders in our community. It will not only provide secure detention for those that require it, but it will allow the courts and community corrections to implement proven and effective alternative strategies for serving our youth and their families in crisis,” says Sheriff Ash.
“We feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and are extremely proud to be a part of this project that is going to help support the continued growth of the Kansas City, Kansas community.” says Lynn Newkirk, President of Newkirk Novak Construction Partners.
“We are excited to see the efforts of many dedicated individuals with Wyandotte County over the past few years become a reality with the new Juvenile Justice Center. This facility will greatly improve the services and opportunities for the juveniles and their families and provide an improved space for the staff working in the facility,” says Dan Rowe, President of TreanorHL. “We are honored to have been a part of this great project and look forward to seeing it built.”
The new facility will also provide a safer environment for transporting inmates and a more secured area for Court Services employees.
Future of Court Services Building
The Wyandotte County Correctional and Court Services building located at 812 N. 7th Street will continue to be occupied by staff with the Wyandotte County Community Corrections, Court Services, and for court hearings. The five story Court Services building was built in 1958 and was previously owned by the United States Federal Courthouse until the Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse opened in 1993. The Unified Government purchased the building from the state for one dollar when they relocated into their new building in downtown KCK.