County Explores Other Sites For Juvenile Detention CenterPosted: Updated:
The St. Lawrence County legislature wants a plan for a juvenile detention center submitted to the state. So a committee met Friday to start putting one together. It doesn't commit to building one. That's a decision that will be made only later.
“It's something that's needed, but if it's something that's going to cost the taxpayers of St. Lawrence County an enormous amount of money, it's not going to get done, plain and simple.” said Legislator Joseph Lightfoot.
The state's new “Raise the Age” law says 16 and 17 year olds can no longer be kept in county jails or state prisons. That means more juvenile detention centers are needed. Currently, there are none in the north country. Youth that need to be locked up have to be sent far away.
“Some of these kids have gone to Long Island from St. Lawrence County. That is not good,” said Lightfoot.
This plan was originally hatched with the idea of reusing the former county jail. But legislators have learned there are difficulties involved with that. So they are now exploring other sites in the Canton Potsdam area for a juvenile detention facility.
“If we're looking toward the future, if we did indeed move in this direction, we'd build something for the next 30 years or something of that nature.” said Legislature Chair Kevin Acres.
The committee only has until April 1 to submit its plan to the state. It then expects to hear back from the state on how it could be financed. The “Raise the Age” law says the state will pay for new facilities needed to fulfill the law's requirements.