South Dakota Corrections Secretary Tim Reisch said a private company would reopen the juvenile detention center shuttered in 2001.

Reisch discussed the plan in a meeting with the State Corrections Commission.

South Dakota closed the State Training School in Plankinton following the death of a resident and the subsequent controversy over its rehabilitation procedures.

South Dakota contracts with private operators for about 150 juvenile treatment beds each year, but has also been renting between 60 and 80 juvenile beds in other states at a cost of about $6 million a year since Plankinton closed.

South Dakota now pays an average of $211 a day for special treatment of juveniles at facilities in other states. A private contract would cost about $179 a day.

It costs about $120 a day to treat juveniles in state-owned reform school programs, but some youngsters need services that are not available at those facilities.

Reisch said Cornell Companies, based in Houston, Texas, plans to reopen the school by first using the 40-bed juvenile prison at the site as a detention center. The company will late open a 70-bed treatment center.

Because private companies cannot establish detention centers in South Dakota, the Aurora County Commission will establish a non profit corporation to lease the property from the state. The county group will then retain Cornell as the operator.

Cornell Interventions proposed using the abandoned facility for a residential mental health and sex offense treatment program.

Cornell would enroll up to 70 youths for outpatient treatment and half that number in residence and provide a supplement or an alternative to county programs.

Cornell currently operates 38 juvenile facilities in nine states.

Copyright Washington Crime News Service Dec 31, 2003

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