New detention officers cut early releases by 100%

KENNEWICK - It's a lifestyle that not only endangers society, but jeopardizes the future of the next generation. Juvenile crime is an ongoing problem for our area. But Action News uncovered one new effort that's making a big difference. New detention officers are helping hold teens accountable.

It's here in these hallways and cell rooms where teens learn responsibility. But early releases from detention can compromise just that.

In 2010, three detention officers were laid off. Over the span of two years, there were 585 early releases. 80% of those were for probation violations. Kids getting let off the hook for breaking the law. But since replacing those positions last year, no teens have been released early.

"When the judge says 'you're going to get ten days in detention,' you're going to serve every one of those ten days," said Juvenile Justice Administrator Darryl Banks.

Officials hope the change will discourage repeat offenses. The center holds an average of 30-juveniles every day. But now, the center can supervise up to 80 teens if necessary.

"To see these kids, to get out of the system and get on with what they're really here to do is become great human beings, functioning, contributing to society," said detention teacher Jordan Chaney.

Jordan Chaney teaches poetry and writing as a class in detention. He's seen too many go through juvie.

"We have to do the best we can to inject new ideas, new motivation in them so that they see what home life is like is not the only option," added Chaney.

Jordan came from a tough background. Now, he uses his past to relate to these teens.

"I never looked at these kids as if they were hopeless because I never considered myself hopeless," explained Chaney.

Hope that these juveniles will find a better way.

Action News also pulled the number of juvenile cases filed by prosecutors. Since 2008, felony filings have dropped by a third.