New Mexico county directs juvenile detention center closure

January 29, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe County commissioners have directed employees to close the county’s juvenile detention center, citing concerns about rising costs and a decrease in the detention population.

Multiple members of the commission supported shutting down the Youth Development Program, but must inform the union that represents the facility workers, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday.

County officials expect to make a final decision on the facility’s closure at a future meeting.

The number of juveniles held at the center has decreased from 357 in 2017 to 293 in 2019, officials said.

More out-of-county youth were held in the facility last year than county residents, county officials said.

The county receives up to $230 to house a juvenile from another part of the state, a fraction of the cost to operate the facility, officials said. The facility’s closure would save the county nearly $1.8 million per year, officials said.

There are currently six statewide detention centers, while Chaves, Taos and McKinley counties have shut down their juvenile detention facilities, officials said.

If the facility in Santa Fe County closes, that leaves juvenile detention centers in Bernalillo, Curry, Doña Ana, Lea and San Juan counties to serve the rest of the state, officials said.