During the county attorney’s report at this morning’s Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting, president of the board Ron Truex asked attorney Mike Miner to discuss the county’s options for Pierceton Woods Academy.
The juvenile detention center located in Pierceton has become an issue for many town residents there who feel the facility needs to get a better handle on the number of juveniles who runaway. Several instances have occurred in the last few months, but the most frightening was on Dec. 9, 2012, when a 17-year-old escaped the facility, hid in a car at nearby Paragon Medical and shot the owner of the car in a foiled carjacking attempt. (See related story)
Rick Wagner lives near the facility and went before the commissioners on Dec. 18, 2012, saying he objected to Pierceton Woods Academy since it was first opened in 2008. “We were told no violent juveniles would be here, but there is,” he said. “We want it closed or properly licensed to operate … We want to feel safe in our homes,” said Wagner. (See related story)
Today, however, Miner said some of the public’s requests to have photo identifications and bond requirements for the juveniles sent to Pierceton Woods is out of the county’s control. “The judge has the authority to make names public, but not the county,” he explained.
Further, Miner said the juveniles who are housed in the unsecured part of the facility are Children In Need of Services. “They are there because there’s something about their home situation that isn’t very good,” Miner offered.
Miner said the county can send a letter to the Indiana Department of Corrections Child Services division and talk to legislators about changing laws, but the only authority the county has is to examine if the facility is in line with zoning laws.
“So we can send a letter to the Department of Corrections Child Services but it would have little impact,” said Truex, who still offered that the board send the letter.
Commissioner Bob Conley said the board has already sent letters and discussed some of the concerns but added, “We’ll do what we have to do.”
Truex, Conley and commissioner Brad Jackson all agreed to write another letter voicing their concerns with Pierceton Woods and vowed to keep pressure on the D.O.C. until Pierceton residents feel safe.
The next commissioners meeting will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26.