"We (the juvenile office) are by no means lazy," Michael Davis, chief juvenile officer for the 35th Judicial Circuit of Stoddard and Dunklin counties, said. "But this new facility will provide great convenience, not just for us, but for the public, the law enforcers and the court personnel."
Davis said prior to the open house, he had already given several tours of the facility. Elected officials, civic groups and teachers have come by to see the center, he said. All of them have the same, positive reaction, and they're very pleased with what they see, Davis added.
Plans for the facility began in July 1999, and construction of the facility began in August 2000. Davis and his staff moved into the new building last month, and since they are settled in, the facility will make room for the juveniles to move in this week, he said.
Courtrooms and offices of the circuit judges, juvenile officers and the prosecuting attorney occupy the main level of the facility. The detention center is on the lower level.
It contains 19 cells, two holding cells and a padded cell.
Davis said the center is equipped to comfortably house between 18 and 22 detainees; however, the center's maximum occupancy is 32 detainees. The daily average population of the center is 10 occupants, he said. An average stay for a detainee is seven to 10 days, he added.
Convenience isn't the only benefit of the new center. The new center is more technologically advanced, which helps with safety. In the control room of the detention center, every room of the lower level can be viewed, he said. Hallways of the main level can also be seen, he added.
The detention detainees are required to attend school every day from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Davis stated the juveniles are allowed to make up any school work provided by their school, or the center will give them work to do. Two teachers from Bloomfield will teach the juveniles, he said.
An unusual, but welcomed, addition to the detention center is the alternative school system. Stoddard county is leasing the lower level space to the alternative school, Davis said. If a student is acting out in a public school system, the school can send the student to the alternative school for a brief period.
"It's wonderful for all seven school districts (in Stoddard county)," Davis said. "It helps the student who is acting out and helps the other students learn (because the distraction is removed)."
As only the second regional juvenile facility in Missouri (Kirksville has the other one), other counties will be able to house their juveniles at the new center, but they must first sign a contract with Stoddard County, Davis said. The contract enables the two counties to house inmates in both locations.
New Madrid, Pemiscot and Dunklin are among the counties that have contracts with Stoddard County. Some counties like Perry, Bollinger and Cape Girardeau aren't contracted with Stoddard County, but are looking into it, Davis said.
The new facility, a yellow building, is located one block south of the courthouse on South Prairie Street.