Judge: Closing Youth Home Would Be 'Disastrous'

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Sanchez bsanchez@dailyherald.com

Finding a new home for DuPage County's juvenile offenders would be "disastrous" for the kids and the county, a judge warned Tuesday.

Judge Stan Austin became the second DuPage judge in a month to publicly oppose a proposal to close the DuPage County Juvenile Detention Center. Austin told members of the county board's judicial and public safety committee that he agrees with Judge Robert Anderson's position that DuPage's youth home provides "a model program" that should continue.

"The alternatives of closing it down and shipping the kids to other counties, I think, are disastrous for the kids and, ultimately, for the county," said Austin, who handles juvenile cases.

Austin's comments came a month after Anderson said he was "baffled" that DuPage officials are considering a plan to transfer detainees to Kane County. Talks between the two counties are ongoing and no final decisions have been made.

Supporters of the outsourcing idea say DuPage's youth home has been underused in recent years. The center, built in the mid-1990s to house 90 youths, has an average daily population of about 24.

Officials estimate DuPage could save about $400,000 a year by shuttering its youth home and sending detainees to a facility in St. Charles.

"Consolidating services between our youth home and Kane County would allow us to pool our resources together and work more efficiently at a reduced cost for taxpayers," DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

If DuPage board members decide to keep the youth home open, they would need more money to pay for it. …