Judge James Fox concerned over budget cuts - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Judge James Fox concerned over budget cuts

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SOUTH BEND -

Recent budget cuts to the Juvenile Justice Center of St. Joseph County has probate Judge James Fox worried about the area's at risk youth. The center was asked to cut three percent of the remainder of their 2014 budget, forking over nearly 160,000 dollars.  

The center is expected to cut even more in 2015.

In January, the center was ranked first with 44 inmates. Executive Director of the St. Joseph County probate court for the Juvenile Justice Center, Pete Morgan, credits the drop in it's inmate population to the Juvenile Detention Alternative initiative.

"Other counties that have gone through this process have seen their security tension populations drop by around 30 percent over a course of a couple years and stay at that lower number," says Morgan.

Morgan says JDAI really forces the courts to ask the right questions: is this the right kid to detain, is this the right time, and are they detaining the kid for the right reasons. 

However well the program may be working right now could mean nothing if the center cannot pay for maintenance and other programs. "We just get these kids and have to try and engage them and have to try and provide them mental health and we don't have any funding for mental health," says Fox. "We don't have any funding for education. we don't have any funding for recreation."

Fox says the building needs general maintenance and is worried they wont be able to afford "big ticket items" like replacing an almost 20 year-old roof or repairing air conditioning and heat.

The Juvenile Justice Center is expected to cut eight percent of their six million dollar budget from the county. Fox worries anymore budget tightening is going to have big consequences.

"All of that takes away from the programming, when we have to fix the building and we have to repair and we have to do these other things," says Fox. "That comes at a cost and the cost is programs for juveniles."

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