State funding sought for South Lake Tahoe juvenile hall |

State funding sought for South Lake Tahoe juvenile hall

Faced with a juvenile hall in Placerville that’s in bad condition and “chronically overcrowded,” county officials hope to secure federal money early next year to build a 20-to 40-bed facility at South Shore.

This year California earmarked $110 million to be distributed through the Board of Corrections. To get a portion of that money, South Shore needs to prove they are a community in need.

In August, the county hired a consultant, Suzie Cohen & Associates, to evaluate the youth correctional system at South Lake Tahoe. Thursday Cohen surveyed 12 county employees in an attempt to map out an ideal juvenile system.

Cohen has also completed more than 50 interviews for a report she expects to finish by the end of the year. “We’re still in the midst of a massive data collection,” she said. “We’re looking at youth population, crimes, what it’s going to look like five, ten, 20 years down the road in the basin. …. There’s a huge disparity between booking and those detained.”

Applications for the federal money are due in February. The county is expected to match 25 percent of any money granted. Once the “needs assessment” report is finished, the county should know what size facility it needs to build. The county wants to build the hall near the jail on Johnson Boulevard.

“Money is attached to number of beds,” said EL Dorado Chief Probation Officer Joseph Warchol.”It’s $100,500 per bed. If you have 30 beds you’re looking at 3 million and change, 40 beds 40 million and change.”

Right now the existing Juvenile Hall in Placerville holds 40 beds. Last week 12 of 37 youths incarcerated in Placerville were from South Shore. Dan Segalas, deputy chief of probation and supervisor of juvenile hall, said normally the facility is more crowded.

“For the last five months we had 45 to 50 kids,” he said. “As long as it’s a felony and they bring them to us we don’t close the door. It’s kind of a musical beds kind of thing. We have to look for kids to release.”

If they can’t find anyone to release early, they accommodate youths with cots.

To remedy overcrowding at Juvenile Hall in Placerville, El Dorado County wants to bulldoze the structure and build a 60-bed facility as part of a new $39 million justice center.

Plans for the justice center, as well as South Shore’s proposed juvenile hall, are in a preliminary stage. Last week, El Dorado County Planning Department released a draft of a report compiled to evaluate what environment impact construction of a new justice center would have.

El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has approved the use of a portion of the state’s $47 million tobacco settlement to finance the center.

Warchol said that El Dorado County is competing with health organizations for tobacco money and that legal issues still have to be clarified before any money is given out.

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