“The closing of just this one regional youth detention center will result in [the department’s] annual savings of more than $6 million, without displacing any youth currently in our system,” Niles said in a statement. “Secure detention incurs a significant expense -- about $90,000 per year, per youth in custody.”
The center on Industrial Boulevard North has the capacity for 100 young offenders from seven counties, including Paulding and Douglas, awaiting hearings or transfers to other facilities.
Youth Services International, a private corrections services company, operates the state-owned youth detention facility under contract with the state of Georgia.
A recent, independent study alleged the Paulding facility was among the highest in the nation in the rate of reported sexual assaults on inmates.
Niles said the decision to allow a six-month extension of an operating contract to expire was based on balancing the economics of reducing overhead facility costs with minimal reduction of bed space in the system. It also will make millions in funds available for additional treatment and counseling services for thousands of youth in the department’s care and custody, a department press release stated.
The department plans to begin the relocation of youth from the Paulding secure facility in early December. Some Paulding facility youth will be transferred to Georgia’s Sumter Youth Development Center where it will bring a 75-bed capacity facility back into service in December following maintenance and refurbishing project. The transferred youth will continue to receive the full spectrum of appropriate services and treatment, the release stated.
As of January 2014, an additional 20-bed facility will also be available in Clayton County, the release stated.
The remaining Paulding facility youth will be diverted to other secure facilities in metro Atlanta in late December. All juvenile offenders at the Paulding center will be transferred to other secure facilities by the end of December.
Niles said, under Georgia’s contract provisions with Youth Services International, it will ensure appropriate staffing levels remain in place to maintain safety and security at the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center during the transitions to other department facilities.
Niles said the department plans to work closely with company administrators to assist in locating appropriate employment opportunities for the private contractor’s workers currently at the Paulding center, based on their individual skills, qualifications, and background check results.
“DJJ continues its longstanding relationship with YSI as they continue to operate another state owned secure facility in Crisp County and their own Youth Development Center in Milan, Georgia under contract with the State of Georgia,” Niles said. “We look forward to a substantial savings and a smooth transition of services.”