Minnehaha County Commission looks to address concerns at Regional JDC

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 3:42 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Minnehaha County Regional Juvenile Detention Center is laying out what needs to be done to better serve the youth under their care.

At Tuesday’s Minnehaha County Commission meeting, Regional JDC Director Jamie Gravett laid out what the facility needs help with in 2022.

The three key areas Gravett is requesting the County Commission take a closer look at are the facility itself, staffing, and mental health resources.

“The one thing that’s the most important to us is the safety and wellbeing of the youth that we serve,” Gravett said.

The complex was built in 1969 and expanded in 1997.

“We want to design it so that we can make the operations smoother and easier, and frankly, keep these kids, not only in a safe environment but make it feel like a home-related institution rather than a jail,” Minnehaha County Commissioner Gerald Beninga, said.

Like many other industries, JDC is looking for qualified workers. Especially to cover their evening shift.

“Eight years ago, when I started, if we had an open full-time position we would get around 120 applicants, now we’re getting closer to 20 or 30 for an open position,” Gravett said.

Minnehaha County Commissioner Cindy Heiberger says the commission is aware of the staffing issue.

“I think we’ll be addressing that in our upcoming budget,” Heiberger said.

Mental health has also come to the forefront.

“A lot of the kids that do come in with delinquency charges also have some mental health issues that are going along with it, sometimes even chemical dependency issues as well,” Gravett said.

On any given day, JDC houses about 27 youth. Gravett says, typically, 70% of them are facing some type of mental health issue.

“We need to bolster our services so that we can help them along the way until they can get to those really needed services out in a treatment facility,” Gravett said.

The County Commission has designated a committee to look into the situation.

“They’re all concerns of the county commission, and things that need to be addressed will be addressed,” Beninga said.

The facility serves 16 counties in the region. Last year, JDC took in 468 admissions, which was on par with numbers from 2020.

“I think, as commissioners, we continue to work collaboratively with our community to figure out what is the best way to move things forward,” Heiberger said.

Copyright 2022 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.