Local News

State Looks For Answers To Solve Juvenile Justice Problems

Posted May 15, 2003

— One week after a state audit revealed a list of problems, an advisory council on juvenile justice is looking for answers.

Gov. Mike Easley wants to borrow $90 million to replace three of the five youth prisons. He told the council by phone that the state cannot afford to let a troubled budget get in the way.

"These are young minds and they are perishable commodities can't just put them on a shelf for two years and hope for better economic days," he said.

Several members of the council, including some judges, questioned whether the state should place new paint, bricks and mortar ahead of programs to help juveniles.

"It would be nice to have a nice one, but until we can get the services they need, get the education, get the mental health taken care of, the place they are in is irrevelant," Judge Marsha Morey said.

John Higginbotham told the council his son was committed to seven psychiatric facilities in two years. He is among a group of people suing the state for not improving pyschiatric services and rehabilitation.

"We couldn't get him in. There was no place to place him to get it even started," he said. "I'm not naive in thinking they can write a check and make all this happen, but there has got to be a better way of expending the funds, fix the institutions they have."

This year, the department overseeing juvenile justice was hit with $32 million in state budget cuts.

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