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County officials rally opposition to plan

 


County officials discussed with the Coulee Dam Town Council Wednesday a plan county commissioners are considering to house juvenile offenders out of the county at a privately-run facility in Medical Lake.

Juvenile Court Administrator Dennis Rabidou, Superior Court judges Christopher Culp and Henry Rawson, and others attended.

Rawson said he does not understand why the county commissioners are even considering a proposal that will be more expensive and serve the community more poorly, but he suggested the town council consider passing a resolution against it.

Culp suggested taking it even further and talking to the council- members’ counterparts in other cities. He said he believes there is unanimous opposition to the idea.

Mayor Greg Wilder said county commissioners had been invited to the meeting but declined.

Both judges agreed that such a move would prove not only costly, but detrimental to troubled youth who need local community and family support, as well as the advantages of programs the county system has set up to help them.

“Detention is actually a process,” Rabidou said. “The theory of juvenile justice is rehabilitation. Get these kids back on track so they can become productive members of our communities and have stronger families.”

He said people are surprised to learn of the programs the county has in place to help that happen. But those would be unavailable to kids housed in Spokane or even Chelan County.

Bids from those area indicate the practice would spend more than $1 million more over four years on housing costs alone, Rabidou pointed out with charts of a comparison to actual county statistics.

“It’s beyond my comprehension that someone could consider this,” said Councilmember David Schmidt.

He said one of his kids had ended up in juvenile detention for a month.

“What fixed his path was the fact that … extended family and friends were able to come and support him.”

“If my son, who was drinking beer at a graduation party, is arrested and he has to ride in shackles with a murderer, this is way off track.”

The judges noted that, although the commissioners’ have held three meetings on the subject, they don’t seem to be listening, in their opinion.

The next such meeting is scheduled for May 10, at 6 p.m. in the county commissioners hearing room, Culp noted. “I just would be so impressed if you came and said, ‘I’ve driven here from Coulee Dam because I care,’” Culp said to those attending the council meeting.

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