Youth Reporting Program Could Replace Boys Ranch

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

County leaders are considering whether a reporting program for at-risk youth could replace Judge Riddel's Boys Ranch.

The proposal comes as Sedgwick County Commissioners grapple with whether to close the facility near Lake Afton. Supporters say the new program would cost less than the county's current operating costs for the boys' ranch.

Tim Norton, Sedgwick County commissioner, said he isn't yet sold on whether the county should close the boys' ranch to save more than a million dollars. The county foots about half of the bill to operate the state program.

"It's a tough decision. you know, we've languished over it for months now and i don't know that we're any closer to pulling the trigger on closing it," Norton said.

The new day reporting program is expected to cost about $750,000 per year.

Proponents said the reporting program is an alternative for troubled youth.

"This would catch youth who are in trouble, but not so severely in trouble that they need to go to residential units," said Bill Buchanan, Sedgwick County manager.

Buchanan said the alternative program will help offenders from repeating their crimes. He said the rate of repeat offenders from the facility is between 30 and 35 percent.

"Just because we think we're going to save money on the JRBR side, we're going to spend some money somewhere else trying to solve the problem," Norton said.

The county will vote on whether to close the facility when they adopt the 2013 budget Aug. 15.

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