SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As Minnehaha County plans for a new juvenile justice center, the daily population at the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center continues to be steady, said Jamie Gravett, the center’s director.
The juvenile detention center serves 16 counties in southeastern South Dakota. Minnehaha County is the largest source of referrals and youth in the detention center. The current facility was built in 1969 and remodeled in 1988 and 1995.
The plan is for a new juvenile justice center, which would including 64 beds for detention, related administrative offices, a juvenile justice courtroom and juvenile probation, Gravett said.
Many of the youth in the detention center are involved in the court process, he said. The needed services will be at one site with the new facility.
Gravett said the 64 beds won’t be filled immediately when a new facility opens but it will allow for expected future growth in the average daily population.
The new facility is still the design phase with the final construction plans to follow, Gravett said. Construction is expected to start in April of next year.
It will be built in two phases. The county board approved on February 7 up to $50 million in funding for the new juvenile justice center.
The overall average daily population in the juvenile detention center has been steady, Gravett said.
An annual report for 2022 compiled by the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine Center for Rural Health Improvement was submitted at the May 23 Minnehaha County Board meeting.
The report said more juveniles were admitted in 2022 than in 2021, but there was a slight decrease in mental health holds.
The average number of mental health holds was 7.75 in 2022, which was lower than the 9.5 in 2021 but higher than 7.25 in 2021.
Gravett said the decrease in mental health holds in 2022 does not offset the overall change in the number of juveniles with mental health issues.
“The biggest change is kids with mental health issues, along with delinquency,” Gravett said.
Mental health issues can contribute to delinquency and delinquency can contribute to mental health issues, Gravett said.
There was an increase in secure detentions in 2022. Secure detentions reached an all-time high in the fourth quarter of 2022 with 105. There was a total of 305 secure detentions.
Secure holds are generally for youth who are a danger to the community or may have a tendency toward violence, Gravett said.
The type of crimes juveniles have been involved in include simple assault, assault, domestic assault and similar, Gravett said.
Admissions of males outpaced females 2 to 1 in 2022. Three-hundred-seventy-two males were admitted compared to 174 females.