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Juvenile Detention Center in Miller Co. at risk of closing due to budget issues

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Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 1:43 PM CST
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MILLER COUNTY, Ark. (KSLA) - During the week of Christmas, KSLA first told viewers of the possible closure of the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Miller County if the city of Texarkana, Ark. does not pay its share of operation costs. On Tuesday, Dec. 28, KSLA’s Fred Gamble made a visit to the center.

“It don’t need to close because Miller County and Texarkana, Arkansas needs this,” said John Wilson, administrator of the JDC.

Wilson says he was a member of the Quorum Court when the City of Texarkana, Ark. agreed to help finance the center in 1994.

MORE>>> Leaders express concern for Miller County’s 2022 budget

“And the agreement back then was the city would pick up half the cost to keep the thing running,” Wilson said.

But over the past several years, the county has paid the bill and now, some officials say that’s enough. Miller County leaders have only allocated funds for three months to operate the JDC in 2022; if the city doesn’t come on board, the facility could be closed.

The facility can house around 30 people and is now averaging around 15 juveniles per day. There are 27 employees at the facility. Linda Dudley and Jackie Perkins have worked there a combine 38 years.

“I feel like we do need our facility because we do rehabilitate our kids,” Dudley said.

“I just don’t think it will be a wise decision. I’m going to be very hurt if I lose my job,” said Perkins.

Even with an uncertain future, officials at the Miller County JDC says they will continue providing educational and rehabilitation services to troubled youths in the area and across the State of Arkansas.

“This is not a dungeon. It’s a very clean place and we run things proficiently and we take care of the clients we have to take care of,” Wilson said.

A joint meeting between the Texarkana, Ark. city board and the Miller County Quorum Court has been slated for Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 to further discuss the future of JDC.

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