Agenda items passed quickly during another special budget workshop session of the Young County Commissioners Court Monday morning. That is, until the court began discussing how much it would allocate for the district's juvenile probation department.

The main point of discussion dealt with placement and detention, two facets of juvenile probation that are difficult to judge in terms of future need, Young County Auditor Cheryl Roberts said.

“Placement has gone over budget considerably this year,” Roberts said.
Commissioners Mike Sipes, left, and Matt Pruitt, right, examine figures during County Auditor Cheryl Roberts’, center, blue shirt, budget
Commissioners Mike Sipes, left, and Matt Pruitt, right, examine figures during County Auditor Cheryl Roberts', center, blue shirt, budget presentation. (Brian Rash)
“Placement is very expensive and is hard to budget for because you don't know how many juveniles you're going to have in placement or detention.”

The requested amount for detention of juveniles in Young County for the 2015 fiscal year is down $10,000, from $60,000 to $50,000. But the budget request for juvenile placement is up $100,000 this year, from $150,000 to $250,000.

“It's very hard to budget for, but the county is 100 percent responsible for making payments on these two things,” Roberts said, adding that the current cost of detention within the probation department amounts to roughly $118 per day, whereas placement for juveniles can average about $150 per day.

During Monday morning's court discussion, County Attorney Dayne Miller made a case for the importance of the juvenile probation department, with which several county officials agreed.

“The whole juvenile probation system, as far as I'm concerned, is very important,” Miller said to the court. “Because that's the first time they get dealt with by someone outside of family.”

Through his own experience, from 2011 to 2013 Miller has seen adjudicated juvenile cases in his office alone jump 71.4 percent from 21 to 36. Miller said that once a juvenile is picked up and processed through the juvenile probation department, of greatest procedural import is to figure out how to readjust each juvenile's attitude so they may become a productive member of society.

Protocol may dictate the need for anything from six months of deferred adjudication without any formal court procedure, Miller said, to more strict penalties that would include incarceration and heavy counseling.

Young County Commissioner Mike Sipes agreed with Miller on the importance of the juvenile probation department, but explained that for the county, the issue is slightly more complex when accounting for a growing judicial system.

“This entire judicial system is growing more and more all the time, and it's costing us more and more money,” Sipes said. “The money that is required to keep the juvenile probation system operating is continuing to come out of your tax dollars, but we have no control over how it's spent.”

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.