Inmates at the Saline County Juvenile Detention Center in Salina, Kan. are being transferred to a state-run facility this week, following Sheriff Glen Kochanowski’s decision to shutter the center on Friday.
According to The Salina Journal, County commissioners John Price, Jim Gile and Randy Duncan were notified about Kochanowski’s plans to close the facility before the weekend. At a conference on Monday, Kochanowski said that the closing will not be permanent.
“I don't want to close it," he is quoted by KSAL.com. "This is temporary until we can get some of these issues worked out."
Earlier this month, Sheriff Kochanowski requested additional detention center staffers at a commission meeting. According to The Salina Journal, Kochanowski told the commissioners that the facility was over capacity, and feared staff and inmate altercations and injuries were likely to increase as a result.
Sheriff’s office data revealed that 48 juveniles this year had been placed in the center between January and March, with an average of nine young people per day housed at the facility, which has only 10 beds. In April, one inmate allegedly attacked another inmate with a handheld metal-detector, while in February, a 16-year-old was accused of severely beating another inmate.
At a mid-April meeting, Sheriff Kochanowski said that smaller facilities were required to employ at least 15 staffers. At the time, the Saline County Juvenile Detention Center had only 11 members on staff.
KSAL.com reports that Kochanowski wants to add two more staffers to the Saline County center, at an estimated cost of $90,000 annually. Of the 10 current staffers at the facility, all but three are expected to remain at the center; the seven other employees are expected to have their positions “folded” into the Saline County Jail.
According to County Commission Chairman Duncan, Kochanowski made the call to shut down the center too early.
“We’re working thorough many of these issues the Sheriff raised in the last couple of weeks, in particular, staffing and what can be done,” Duncan is quoted by The Salina Journal. "We know that there are some needs, a temporary staffing crisis and a few more juveniles, but it's not clear to me whether this is a long-term problem or a short-term problem.”