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Attorney General tours Juvenile Center

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna toured Island County’s jail and spanking new Juvenile Detention Center Tuesday afternoon.

Hosted by Sheriff Mike Hawley, the tour centered mostly on the new juvenile facility and its progress since opening.

McKenna, who first had lunch at the jail’s cafeteria, was shown the second level viewing area for the adult jail, met with jail staff and then headed to the juvenile center for an in-depth tour.

“It’s a big improvement over sending kids out of the area,” said McKenna as he walked across “the bridge,” a hallway from the adult jail to the juvenile center.

McKenna said he was impressed with the state-of-the-art facility and its staff. The $6.2 million, 21-bed center has been in operation since late March of this year and has an average daily population of 17 young inmates.

McKenna asked what kinds of health problems the staff sees from juvenile inmates, and Dave Marquis, staff member, replied, “Mostly drug related health issues.”

“I assume there is a high percentage of substance abuse problems with the kids here,” said McKenna. Staff members readily affirmed the supposition.

McKenna also inquired about the behavior of the juveniles while under detention.

“They’ve been decent,” answered Marquis. “All of them.”

McKenna looked pleased to see the center’s education room. The center has a certified teacher on staff who stays in direct contact with each detainee’s school district to keep up with their eduational needs.

“School work gives juveniles something to focus on,” said McKenna as he looked over bookshelves of textbooks and cubicles of computers.

McKenna stopped by the jail facilities as part of his office’s ongoing effort to “reach out” to the public. McKenna makes similar stops in other counties as well as visiting schools and local civic groups.

Before leaving McKenna congratulated the center’s staff on their professionalism and the operations of the facility.

Hawley was pleased to show off the county facilities and with the opportunity to get feedback from McKenna, a fellow Republican.

“It’s good to have someone from Olympia to come here to see us and share our successes,” said Hawley.

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