Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | May 27, 2018

County joins detention center

Jul 14, 2017

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County is now a member of the Southeast Iowa Area Crime Commission’s (SIAC) juvenile detention home near Montrose in Lee County. The facility was constructed in the early 1990s.

The county had long been a member of SIAC but recently found out it was not a member of the detention center. “In the spring, we tried to put a juvenile in the detention center and they refused to allow us because we weren’t a member,” recounted Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee.

There is no cost to join the detention center and the county will get a break on housing costs by being a member. The only cost to the county would be if the detention center had a deficit fund balance or improvements were needed. If either were the case, the cost would be divided among 16 area member counties.

By joining, the county also will have at least one bed available for juveniles. Members of the detention center pay $160 per day boarding costs while non-members are assessed $185 per day.

That $25 in savings could be substantial for the county if anywhere close to as many juveniles are placed in facilities in fiscal 2018 as was the case in fiscal 2017. In fiscal 2017, Henry County juveniles spent 596 days in detention which equals nearly a $15,000 additional housing expense. In fiscal 2016, county juveniles spent 156 days in detention and fiscal 2015’s number was 217.

“It was extremely high last year,” McNamee said, referring to the number of days juveniles spent in detention. He said he did not know the reason for the sharp increase.

Supervisors also appointed McNamee’s recommendation of Scott Bell as a county deputy sheriff. Bell was a criminal justice major in college, served with the U.S. Marines and is now in the Marine reserves. A Minnesota native, Bell comes to Henry County from Washington County where he served as a part-time dispatcher. He will attend the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston beginning Aug. 28.

County Auditor Shelly Barber urged any residents considering absentee voting on the county law enforcement/jail referendum to do so next week. On Tuesday, July 25, a murder trial will begin in the courtroom of the courthouse. She said that the building will be congested and visitors to the courthouse will have to pass through a metal detector at the rear entrance. The trial is expected to take two weeks.

Over 270 residents have voted absentee as of Thursday morning she added.

Supervisors meet again on Tuesday, July 18, at 9 a.m. in the courthouse.

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