Updated: January 29, 2020 11:36 AM
Created: January 28, 2020 06:23 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Santa Fe County officials met with county commissioners Tuesday to discuss closing down Santa Fe’s juvenile detention center.
Officials said challenges with declining juvenile population, an aging facility, lack of revenue and staff turnover are factors that led up to the question about what to do with the facility.
Some union employees who work at the youth detention center don’t want to see the facility close its doors.
Sam Chavez represents the officers, maintenance and nursing staff at the detention center.
“They portray that there is little or no need to house the juvenile staff here in New Mexico anymore but the trends are you see the juveniles getting in more and more trouble,” Chavez said.
Santa Fe County Communications Coordinator Carmelina Hart said those current employees would be placed in other positions.
“We have 12 employees at the youth detention program and what we would like to do is place them in either other public safety positions or in other positions throughout the county,” Hart said.
However Chavez said union employees want to stay put.
“I really don't think any of them are happy with that,” he said.
The facility is slated for 29 positions, but less than half of those are filled.
"There has been a decrease in interest in working there and we have less inmates that we need to take care of,” Hart said.
Hart said the county has discussed transporting juveniles to Bernalillo and San Juan County, but transportation could be an issue.
“One of the things we've looked into is creating a transportation team,” she said.
The team of three would shuttle the accused teens to other facilities. They budget for their salaries and other expenses would be $300,000.
There are currently eight teens housed in the youth detention center. The county said a large portion of the kids are brought in from other jurisdictions.
The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners will set a deadline for the county to come up with a closure plan.
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