If sanctioned, by this October, Sedgwick County will have a brand new juvenile offender program. It is meant to treat young offenders who have a medium to high risk of recommitting the crimes that they are being punished for. The program will serve as an alternative to opening another facility like the Judge Riddel Boy’s Ranch, which has now been shuttered.
Under the premises of the new treatment plan, minor offenders will be put through behavioral training aimed at developing social skills, anger management, moral reasoning and problem solving. The efforts will be directed at changing the criminal mentality of the young offenders along with their attitudes and value system. Sedgwick County will have to invest $72,000 to just get the program off the ground.
Things have been bleak for young offenders since the closure of the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch
The facility which housed offenders in the age range of 13 to 19 years was shut down in the summer of 2014 after the commissioner refused to subsidize it, citing budgetary constraints. The residents of the center were sent to other youth residential establishments across the county and the state.
However, this meant that they would be away from their homes, minimizing the involvement of the family in the rehabilitation attempts. Since then, many parties have come forth with proposals for restarting the boy’s ranch or opening a similar facility, both of which would cost the government $1.9 million.
At this point, Sedgwick County is being served by four youth residential centers, with a total capacity of 123 beds. This program is designed to work in conjunction with the efforts of the youth residential establishments in the initial phase and then exclusively serve nearly 100 juvenile offenders each year. A family engagement model is also being prescribed which would be an additional expense of $145,000, but this would be a onetime cost.