Overcrowded Youth Centers Cause Concern

11-15-05 - Juveniles in Oklahoma may be getting a second chance thanks to the crowded detention centers across the state, including one in Bryan County.

301 is the number of beds the entire state of Oklahoma has in their juvenile detention centers. When those beds fill up, offenders stay on the street.

It ultimately is the call of the district judges if a juvenile should be sent to the detention center for an offense, but Bryan County only has six beds at their center. If need be, the juvenile could be sent to one of the other 16 centers in the state.

The problem is most of the time they are full as well. They have to find alternatives like home detention that release the juvenile back into the care of a guardian. Because of that a lot of the same names keep on showing up on the offender list, but the places to put them are at a premium.

Gerald Nickles, Executive Director of Youth Services in Bryan County says, “The 300 beds in the state stay full about 97 percent of the time. The six beds here are full 100 percent of the time.”

Getting any dollars into the detention system has been tough enough.

Last year was only the second time in the past 13 years where the system received more money, but it wasn't enough to purchase anywhere near enough beds.

Detention centers in Oklahoma are privately contracted from the state.