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Taylor County commissioners support closing juvenile offender housing facility, employees upset

By Cassandra Webb, cwebb@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:45:08 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 21 2013 11:47:41 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

In Taylor County, the place where juvenile offenders are housed after they've had their day in court could soon be no more.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to support a recommendation to close down the Taylor County juvenile post-adjudication facility.

The Juvenile Board of Taylor County came to commissioners with a recommendation for an early end to their contract with the state.

The Taylor County Commissioners Court agreed because of its low numbers, the facility is costing taxpayers more to operate it than to maintain it.

The goal in closing the facility is to save money.

"The state funding that originally brought about the decision to open the facility in the early 90s has been reduced and cut, so mainly the operation of the facility comes out of the pockets of Taylor County," Precinct 4 County Commissioner Chuck Statler said.

The facility currently houses 16 juveniles – and only nine are from Taylor County.

"The facility was geared to hold 36 kids, so we're holding one-third of the kids, but it still costs the full operating costs," Statler said. "So, we can possibly save a million dollars a year for the tax payers of Taylor County."

Staff at the facility said they were shocked and disappointed with the decision and aren't sure what this means for their jobs.

"I'm at a loss for words," facility employee Treasha McManus said. "I'm going to keep doing what I love most, working with those children and I really enjoyed my job."

If the state contract is terminated, the facility will close its door on April 1, 2014.

The facility was opened in 1999 and employs about 40 staff members.

If the facility closes, juveniles will be sent to other counties at an operating cost of between $85 to $140 dollars a day, instead of what $288 that it is now, County Judge Downing Bolls said.