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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wilder, Scott

Director of Office of Communications 
News Date: 10/13/2011 

 Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility Safe, Secure, & Cost Effective  

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd Announced today that the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has successfully begun operation of the new Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility in East Bartow.  Pre-adjudicated juveniles were moved from the State Department of Juvenile Justice’s Polk County Juvenile Detention Center on Saturday, October 1, 2011.  The facilities are one block from each other.

“Because of the extremely high cost of housing pre-adjudicated juveniles at the state facility, the Board of County Commissioners and I agreed to open a new detention facility for juveniles operated by the Sheriff’s Office.  We will save taxpayers a minimum of $1.4 million dollars annually, conservatively.  I am proud of our highly trained and highly dedicated staff who will safely, securely, and effectively house these juvenile delinquents.  These are incorrigible kids that the court system says must stay in detention while they await adjudication.”  --Sheriff Grady Judd


Before legislation authorized counties to independently manage a juvenile detention facility, the cost of housing of pre-adjudicated youth consisted of a “cost share” relationship between the counties and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).  Each county was (and still are, in some cases) billed by DJJ for the number of days that pre-adjudicated youth are held in the state-run detention centers. (Some small counties are exempted from paying DJJ.)

Example:  The state-run Regional Juvenile Detention Center located in Bartow – serving Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties.  Polk County paid approximately $3.2 million annually for the Department of Juvenile Justice as its “share” of the cost of operating pre-adjudicated confinement – an average of $237 per juvenile per day.  According to DJJ, this cost for 2011 was to increase to $286.12 per juvenile per day, and was projected by DJJ to be $350.26 for 2011-2012.  The Polk County Sheriff’s Office will operate a facility for one third to half these costs, saving millions.  Why?  Polk County can operate its own juvenile detention facility for pre-adjudicated youth without unnecessary, duplicative, and costly bureaucratic oversight and overhead from the Department of Juvenile Justice.  Utilizing existing buildings, procedures, management, support functions, and processes already in place at Polk County jail facilities will dramatically lower costs. 

Training, Professionalism, and Experience

Polk County Sheriff’s Detention Deputies have received extensive training, development, and education, making them extremely well equipped to provide a higher level of care and custody at a much lower cost.  For example, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy working in juvenile custody areas will have a minimum of 832 hours of training, in addition to 39 hours of annual retraining for every additional year employed, mandatory FDLE retraining, and other optional training that he or she may take.  This can be compared to the Department of Juvenile Justice minimum requirement for DJJ Detention Officers:  They are required to receive two phases of training comprised of 120 hours each, for a total of 240 total hours.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office maintains eight professional independent accreditations, placing it in the top one-tenth of one percent in the nation.  All eight accrediting bodies conduct independent inspections and operational audits of the agency.  The Sheriff’s Office maintains the following accreditations directly related to jail operations:  Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission, Inc., National Commission on Correctional Health Care, National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., and Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation Program.  Additionally, all jail facilities, including the Juvenile Detention facility, will comply with, and be inspected by, Florida Model Jail Standards.  The Sheriff’s Office is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc., the Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program, and the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch.  The PCSO is also one of only four law enforcement agencies in the nation (and the only Sheriff’s Office) that have received dual “Flagship” designations from CALEA and PSCAP.

By way of comparison, the Department of Juvenile Justice has no outside accreditations.

“Accreditation is vitally important to the integrity of an organization.  These are outside, independent, and professional associations that compare our practices with the industry’s best practices.  Would anyone want to go to an unaccredited hospital?  Would you want to be treated by an unaccredited doctor?  Of course not.  Professionalism and Accreditation matters.”  --Sheriff Grady Judd

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office—and many other county jail operators—have been safely, effectively, and efficiently housing juvenile offenders for many years operating under state and federal law, and their own rules and procedures as outlined through professional accreditations such as the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC), American Correctional Association (ACA), and National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC).  They are inspected annually under the Florida Model Jail Standards (FMJS).  Housing juveniles in county jails is not new in Florida—The Polk County Jail already detains direct-filed, adult-waived juveniles in its facilities and is fully qualified to house pre-adjudicated youth.

The Polk County Juvenile Detention facility is located at the Central County Jail in East Bartow.  It was constructed in 1987 using modern architectural design that incorporated security using CPTED “crime prevention through environmental design” principles.  Lines of sight are clear and unobstructed, direct supervision is efficient and effective, facilities are bright, they are built to resist damage, they are easy to clean and maintain, and the ceilings are high.

Juveniles at the Juvenile Detention Facility are kept strictly away from adult inmates, by sight, sound, and during transportation.  There is NO interaction with adult inmates, at all.  Juveniles go to educational classes taught by educational professionals from the Polk County School Board.  Juveniles go to bed at 9:00 p.m.  The facility follows the same classification rules as DJJ and is operated under the Florida Model Jail Standards (FMJS).  Florida Model Jail Standards are authorized by Florida Statute 951.23 (County and municipal detention facilities; definitions; administration; standards and requirements).  Inspections take place annually.  The Sheriff’s Office also conducts internal staff inspections at all PCSO facilities.

There are currently 41 pre-adjudicated juveniles at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility—36 males and 5 females.  The average age of the pre-adjudicated juveniles is 15.2 years old.