Finding a place for troubled juveniles to live has never been an easy task for county and state government. We have always trusted our local officials to do the right thing when it comes to working with young people who are fragile when it comes to misbehavior. 

Whether it’s Marinette County, Menominee County or some other county in Wisconsin or Michigan, the challenges have been burdensome when it comes to disciplining a juvenile or making sure they have a safe place to stay. Making the right choice is a primary concern. Law enforcement personnel making the initial investigation, social workers who take over the case and the decision-makers in the judicial system have tough decisions to make. 

The placement of troubled kids in high-cost state facilities and transporting those awaiting court action to distant detention centers have proven to be costly for Marinette County. Some relief may be forthcoming for the Marinette County Board’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, which deals with the problem. 

Perhaps the first sign of relief will be provided by the reopening of the former Crossroads Group Home for juveniles in the Town of Peshtigo, which now has a new identity — Share Academy — and managed by Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living. The county purchased the eight-bed facility in June from the Group Home Association, which said it no longer wanted to operate it due to liability and staffing concerns. That decision put the county in a delicate situation. 

Robin Elsner, director of Health and Human Services for Marinette County and a member of the committee overseeing the new management system, said he is hopeful that the county will be able to place some of the juveniles that have been transported to secure facilities to Share Academy when it opens in the near future. Elsner is hoping Share Academy will be up and running by the end of November. He said some juveniles can be placed in that facility. 

According to Elsner, secure detention facilities throughout the state are full, adding that the county has sent troubled juveniles to four different facilities. 

“I know it doesn’t make you guys happy, but we have to find a bed where we can find a bed,” he told the committee in a straight-talk discussion recently. 

Jail Administrator Bob Majewski, chairman of the committee, reminded committee members that talk about establishing regional juvenile detention facilities is still alive. He noted that Fond du Lac County is the only county in northeastern Wisconsin who is interested in establishing a regional detention facility and contracting with other counties in the region for beds. 

Sheriff Jerry Sauve made a strong point when he told committee members that it is difficult to budget for juvenile care because the amount of time it requires his staff to transport juveniles back and forth to secure facilities for court appearances. 

District Attorney DeShea Morrow said the county has a “pretty active juvenile court” with youth that have committed significant crimes. 

It’s pretty clear Marinette County has some serious issues when it comes to dealing with troubled juveniles. We like the way our county officials are working together to alleviate the problem. This is a good time for the public to make every attempt to understand and appreciate what the county is faced with. The facts are what matters.