Simplified: Minnehaha County's plan for a new $50 million Juvenile Justice Center to replace the existing facility is moving forward. Here's a look at designs shared this week with the county building committee.

Why it matters

  • The current juvenile detention center, built in 1969 and most recently remodeled in 1995, is running out of space. It's also lacking resources needed for staff – including break rooms and showers.
  • Minnehaha County Commissioners in February voted unanimously to approve plans to take on up to $50 million in debt to build a new juvenile detention center.
  • Initial designs shared this week show a more than 72,000-square-foot facility with features including 64 beds, a new courtroom, new office spaces and break room facilities for staff and safely confined outdoor spaces.
  • Plans right now are about $400,000 over budget, but Assistant Commission Administrative Officer Tyler Klatt said he's confident designers will make it work for under the $50 million mark.
"The commission recognizes that this was not an inexpensive ask of them ... it's never fun to have to pay for things like this," Klatt said. "But it's important. The goal is, if you can build something like this to help kids now, then we don't see them again in the future at the jail or penitentiary."

Tell me more about the planned facility

The new building will be on the same campus as the existing detention center at 4200 West Avenue.

  • That'll allow operations to continue in the current building while the new center is built.

The new facility is based on best practices, Klatt said, and it takes into account the needs of everyone who'll be using the center. Klatt shared some of the specific features, including the following:

  • For kids, the idea is to create a space that feels less like a jail and more rehabilitation-focused. There'll be more natural light, a new outdoor recreation area and more homey housing pods made up of groups of eight rooms.
  • For staff, both indoor and outdoor break room facilities will provide space to decompress and even shower if needed. Staff will also have their own separate entrance to the building.
  • For judicial staff, the new facility will have a courtroom where juvenile proceedings can take place. There's also space for attorneys to do all of their work with kids within the facility.

Show me more renderings

You've got it.

What happens next?

The second phase of design is underway, and if all goes to plan the project will go to bid in early 2024 with construction beginning in the spring.