Bannock County apparently is the only county in southeastern Idaho scrambling to put together a holding cell for juvenile offenders to comply with a federal mandate.
Several surrounding counties, with fewer juvenile arrests, say they will worry about detention problems as they arise.A federal law requires juvenile offenders must be housed separately from adult inmates as of Dec. 8. Fourteen southern Idaho counties will send juveniles to a regional facility at the Youth Services Center in St. Anthony.
But Bannock County is concerned about what to do with juveniles between the time they are arrested and when they are transported to St. Anthony. Officials also wonder what they will do if the 12-bed regional facility is filled.
Surrounding counties, however, simply plan to transport juveniles when they're arrested.
"We don't hold them," said Bingham County Undersheriff Bill Gordon. "If the juvenile officer says send them to St. Anthony - then they'll go right away. They don't sit around here."
Law enforcement officials in Caribou and Franklin counties think the same. "We've taken off in the middle of the night to transport juveniles," said Franklin County Deputy Beverly Dunn. "If we get prisoners, we'll just have to transport them - we don't have any other choice."
Caribou County acting sheriff Claude Snooks said if he is still in that office Dec. 8, he'll just hope and pray he doesn't run into problems transporting the youths.
"If we have a problem transporting them right away, I'll have to go to the commissioners and the court and handle it with with them."
While Bannock County is looking for a holding cell to house at least six juveniles with separate quarters for boys and girls, Bonneville County has settled on using an old courthouse jail cell with four beds for its holding area. Bonneville County Sheriff Richard Ackerman believes that will work fine - as long as they have offenders of the same sex.
"The facility is arranged so that they have all the conveniences - there's a commode, a shower and a TV. It's completely out of sight and sound from adult offenders - I think we're in real good shape."
Despite the confidence surrounding counties have in "wait and see," Bannock County Undersheriff Bill Lynn frets that isn't good enough.
"I don't feel that we're going overboard," Lynn said. "I do think some of the smaller counties that have few juvenile arrests really can work this out on a person-by-person basis. The larger counties clearly have to have a way of dealing with this beforehand."