Increase in juvenile arrests in one county

Increase in juvenile arrests in one county

DECATUR -- More young people are ending up in court and taxpayers are footing the bill.
DECATUR--More young people are ending up in court and taxpayers are footing the bill. Macon County doesn't have a juvenile facility so those suspects have to be sent to Peoria. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs explains.

Macon County closed the doors of its juvenile center in 2001. Now it sends offenders to Peoria. The county pays more than $211,000 each year to house them there.

"We are guaranteed five beds everyday that we pay about $80 a day for. Anything over that, where we may need additional bed space."

But, according to Juvenile Supervisor Amy Smith, in the past few months, they've had more offenders. And housing more of them has put the program over budget by $70,000.

"After the first five youth, every youth after that is running at $112.68 a day."

Smith says, a new law is part of the reason for the spike.

"In January, the change in making it that anyone 18 or under the age of 18 is consider a juvenile then we're holding several kids who otherwise would have aged out."

The county is still trying to figure out how to pay for it, but Smith says it has to be done because some of the offenders need to be locked up. Macon County is also trying to help alleviate the problem by giving juveniles with less-violent offenses detention or monitoring them with electronic devices.

If Peoria runs out of space to house the juveniles, the county has supplemental contracts with Champaign, McLean County and Danville.

The U.S. Department of Justice says overall, crimes committed by juveniles is down. It also released a report ranking the crimes most committed by people under 18. Number one is arson; second is vandalism. Disorderly conduct, robbery and motor vehicle theft round out the top five.
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