PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections has announced it is making plans for a new juvenile correctional facility after the lease for the current lockup expires in seven years.
The department leases the Abode Mountain School facility north of Phoenix from the state Land Department, KJZZ-FM . But that lease is set to expire within the next decade.
The department is now looking for a consultant to help “identify the type of juvenile correctional facility the agency will need.” The department wants the consultant to provide at least three location options for the new lockup.
Juvenile corrections department spokesperson Kate Howard said officials are in the early stages of the process to consider relocating the facility at the end of the lease because the cost is projected to increase significantly by 2027.
“The annual lease amount is $1.2 million for fiscal year 2021, and for the remaining 6 years will be $1.5 million annually,” Howard said, noting a study in 2017 showed it would take more than $76 million to replace the Adobe Mountain School.
Mishi Faruqee, national field director of Youth First Initiative, a group that works to close youth prisons, cautioned against building a new, expensive detention facility because it would lock the department into a building with a set capacity.
“We’ve seen large facilities all over the country that end up having just a few kids in them,” Faruqee said. “And the cost per kid just skyrockets because it’s a fixed cost to run a prison, and you’re spreading that cost over fewer young people.”
She argued instead that the state should look to smaller, community-based solutions.
Department officials said there are about 215 inmates and 300 employees at the Adobe Mountain School.