Minority Leader calls into question review of juvenile facilities
DeBolt says narrow parameters will produce flawed results
A state study into how best to achieve savings in the state's juvenile correction system was too narrowly focused to provide credible recommendations, according to state House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt.
letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire, DeBolt expressed strong objections to the direction provided to the contractor conducting the study by the governor's Office of Financial Management and Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration. He said the contractor was not given broad enough parameters to conduct a reliable study. Consequently, the study was limited to a review of closing one of two facilities – Green Hill and Maple Lane.
“The contractor conducting this study should have been given sufficient information and latitude to identify the best alternatives for achieving savings in the system, while maintaining services for juveniles and protecting public safety,” said DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “A study conducted just four years ago showed closing a facility in Naselle was the most practical alternative. Yet this study did not even consider that option. Unfortunately, this review has been politicized and so you can't expect a result that will be in the best interest of the taxpayers.”
The legislation that authorized the study specifically called for a review of Green Hill and Maple Lane. But DeBolt said it did not rule out looking at other more viable ways to achieve savings. In fact, the bid submitted by the contractor conducting the study specifically recommended identifying “potentially feasible alternatives.”
“The contractor even raised warnings about looking too narrowly at this issue, but the governor's administration did not give them the opportunity to conduct a more thorough review,” he said. “I understand that the governor and budget writers in the majority party have banked on savings to balance the budget by closing one of the state's juvenile facilities. But treating juveniles and protecting public safety are not responsibilities the state can afford to compromise. We need a study that will lead to the best decisions for the public, not a political exercise with predetermined results.”
Contact: John Handy, Deputy Communications Director, (360) 786-5758
###Washington State House Republican Communications