Juvenile Justice Center – Mayor Stothert's Comments

Mayor Jean Stothert held her District 2 town hall at The Venue at Highlander (2120 N. 30th Street) Monday, Oct 29. During the meeting, Luis Jimenez inquired as to if Mayor Stothert had spoken with Commissioner James Cavanaugh about the juvenile justice center that we wrote an extensive report on earlier this month. The Mayor said she did not discuss the project during their last encounter but recently spoke to other county commissioners.

“As of late last week, I talked to Clare Duda and Marc Kraft. They came in and they walked me through the whole issue with the juvenile justice center. I’ve talked to councilman Gray about it, I’ve talked to councilman Amy Melton about it, who was also on the Building Commission,” said the mayor, “Right now I still don’t have enough information to answer any question about why it was designed the way it was. But I will tell you this, definitely there is a need for a new juvenile court system.”

The mayor described overcrowding on the sixth floor of the current Douglas County courthouse as reasoning for a new space.

“I don’t think anything final, unless Ben Gray you can tell me different, has been decided,” said Stothert. “It is hard for me to comment on something I had just been briefed for the first time by county board members last week. No plans have been finalized yet.”

“As you know, the youth center is just basically a holding area until they go to trial,” she said. Stothert admitted she visited the Douglas County Youth Center for the first time two weeks ago.

The mayor then asked District 2 councilman Ben Gray, who is on the board of the Douglas County Unified Justice Center Corporation overseeing financing and construction of the center, to comment.

“The juvenile justice center the cost of it was $120 million that was a guess from some of the developers that were starting to look at it but now some of the dollars are starting to go down. “But I’m supportive of the juvenile justice center and the detention center being housed in same place.”

Minneapolis and Pittsburgh were cited as examples where co-located facilities supposedly reduced the number of individuals in custody by “a number of percentage points,” according to Councilman Gray.

Jimenez recalled data showing detainment had decreased in the current DCYC facility. “Well, we can make it work better,” Gray retorted.

Mayor Stothert made clear the juvenile justice center is not the city’s responsibility. “This is not a city project and the city has not been involved in this,” she said.

Presently, there is a temporary restraining order on the eminent domain of a building at 420 S 18th St owned by architect Bob Perrin.

Read our comprehensive review of the juvenile justice center thus far.