RACINE — The county is forming a Youth Justice Advisory Committee to explore a potential regional juvenile detention facility in Racine County, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave announced Tuesday in a news release.
The announcement was made on the same day that Gov. Tony Evers announced that construction would begin on two Type 1 juvenile facilities — which house more serious offenders — in Milwaukee and Hortonia, an Outagamie County town.
Racine County had once been considered as a location for a Type 1 facility. While Racine County was not selected, the county is working on a plan that could replace its juvenile facility on Taylor Avenue.
The committee of community and civic leaders is scheduled to meet for the first time at 3:30 p.m. today at the Ives Grove Office Complex, 14200 Washington Ave., Yorkville. The meeting is open to the public.
Juvenile justice restructured
Wisconsin Act 185, passed into law last year, restructures the juvenile justice system across the state. The act would close the troubled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile correctional facilities in Lincoln County and offer $80 million in grants to create new facilities for juveniles across the state.
“We are committed to getting kids out of Lincoln Hills and closer to home as soon as we safely and responsibly can,” Evers said. “Today’s announcements show significant action towards our shared goal of ensuring kids get the education, programming and mental-health treatment they need in supportive settings that are closer to their families and communities.”
As part of the law, a 10-member Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee also was created. The committee will award grants providing 95 percent of state funding for the design and construction costs to build secure residential care centers for children and youth for non-serious juvenile offenders.
The county awarded the grant would run the center but would be subject to state Department of Corrections requirements related to programming and services that must be provided to juveniles. The DOC also will approve the minimum standards for the design, construction, repair and maintenance of the SRCCYs.
County proposes facility
In February, Racine County officials presented a plan to potentially build a SRCCY to replace its current juvenile-offender facility on Taylor Avenue. Part of the facility’s plans included program space, recreation, visiting, juvenile courts and health care, as well as a large courtyard to connect the entire facility.
The formation of the Racine County Youth Justice Advisory Committee would help confirm details, such as where the facility would be located and what community partners could be utilized.
“As with any significant project, we want to engage diverse perspectives to ensure we have a good understanding of the views and aspirations of the community,” Delagrave said. “The Youth Justice Advisory Committee will be crucial in establishing the priorities of programming and space needs within our budgetary parameters.”
The county has until March 31 to submit an application to the state for approval to build the facility. As part of Wisconsin Act 185, the state could cover 95 percent of the design and construction costs of the facility.
At the initial meeting, the committee will establish the meeting schedule and timing, provide information on Racine County’s current juvenile detention facility and services, explain the changes proposed by the State of Wisconsin and discuss the county’s interest in hosting a new regional facility.
The state also runs the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility, 1501 Albert St. That facility is a medium-security institution designed to house male offenders ages 18-24.