A proposal from Maricopa County, Az., Sheriff Joe Arpaio to take custody of all of Arizona’s juvenile inmates offers a glimpse into the complexities of dismantling the state Department of Juvenile Corrections, reports the Arizona Republic. Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget proposes eliminating the $63 million agency, an idea that raises significant concern among county officials around the state. They fear the costs of caring for juvenile inmates will be pushed back onto their taxpayers.
Arpaio this week proposed a potential solution: taking the state’s 500 juvenile inmates into Maricopa County facilities. Reaction has been mixed. Officials from other counties are universally skeptical that Maricopa County has the infrastructure in place for the added inmates. Some state lawmakers champion the idea as a way to ease the state’s financial burden without increasing the cost to taxpayers. “We have the systems in place to handle them,” Arpaio said. “I know we can do it cheaper than anyone else. We do have some vacancies now anyway.” County administrators across the state were skeptical that Arpaio – or any county sheriff in Arizona – would be equipped to handle all the special services that the law requires for juveniles in custody.