Sites north of Hayden and in Lewiston are the most likely places for a proposed $4 million juvenile corrections work camp, an Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections official said Tuesday.
Department spokesman Bill Overton said officials are leaning toward those sites after visiting seven North Idaho communities pitching their areas as homes for the 50-bed camp.
A final decision is expected in three to four weeks, Overton said. The Kootenai County site, proposed by the county commissioners, covers about 10 acres off Miles and Atlas roads.
State officials also toured sites offered by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Bonner County, the Orofino Chamber of Commerce, Grangeville and Elk City, Overton said.
Idaho has 110 juvenile detention beds at Juvenile Correction Center East in St. Anthony and 20 beds at Juvenile Correction Center West in Nampa. The state is also breaking ground this month on a new 24-bed “observation and assessment center” in Nampa. There, workers would examine juvenile offenders to determine the best way to rehabilitate them.
There are no state juvenile centers in North Idaho, although Overton said the state sends some youth to private treatment centers, such as Anchor House in Coeur d’Alene.
State officials will hold hearings at the finalist sites to gauge public opinion about the proposed work camp. No hearings have been set yet.
A similar proposal last year at the Shoshone Work Center, north of Prichard, drew dozens of angry neighbors afraid of violent, destructive runaways. State officials, saying the work camp would have been an excellent site, still decided to look elsewhere.
Youth at the camp, state officials have said, would not be violent offenders. The camp would employ 40 to 60 people and have an annual budget of about $1.5 million. The Legislature budgeted $4.4 million for construction of the camp.
Overton said Tuesday the youth would do outdoor community work projects, such as working for the U.S. Forest Service. Any money they made would be paid toward victim restitution, he said.