Many of the beds in Utah’s Weber Valley Detention Center stand empty these days. The Salt Lake Tribune says the beds and the youths who should be filling them — and there are a lot — have fallen victim to budget cuts. More than a year after Utah legislators decided to slash funding to the juvenile detention center in the state's fourth most populous county, the number of youths who suddenly find themselves incarcerated outside of the county has jumped by more than 370 percent.
For a system that prides itself in rehabilitating youths, there are staggering implications: Visiting with family and defense lawyers is more complicated, Utahns are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars more in taxes and community police protection is reduced. Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment said if the state doesn't fix the problem soon, things are just going to get worse. “It's absolutely critical because really what's going to happen is if the state doesn't address that issue long-term up here, you'll see Farmington Bay [Youth Center] become overrun with [more] juveniles than they can handle. It's a public safety issue, and it's an issue for juveniles and their families.”