By HEATHER LARSE
A new Utah County Youth Correctional Facility will be built this year to meet the rising number of youth in detention caused by a population influx and increasing gang activity in Utah.
The new facility, expected to be completed in April 1997, will replace the current 42-year-old facility. Garrett Watkins, the youth detention treatment supervisor and program coordinator, said the present facility is rundown and needs to be updated.
“(The facility) has an outdated heating system and an outdated electrical system. It is becoming more costly for the state to operate,” Garrett said.
Darrel Piepgrass, director of Provo Detention, said the current building is also overcrowded.
“Right now we have 24 beds, but as of (Wednesday) morning, we had 46 kids,” Piepgrass said.
Governed by the Division of Youth Corrections Department of Human Services, the new facility will have 32 long-term secure beds and 38 short-term detention beds. The new building will also have a receiving center for youth who have not committed crimes serious enough for detention. The facility will be approximately 40,000 square feet in area and will be located at 1991 South State St. in Provo.
“The new buildings will meet the needs of a long-term juvenile lock-up facility. This will hold youth that society needs to be protected from,” Watkins said.
According to Piepgrass, a population increase in the last five years and an increase in the number of kids doing crime has contributed to the overcrowded conditions.
“The gang factor has definitely been a problem,” he said.
The facility will hold youth from Utah, Wasatch and Juab Counties as well as any youth caught committing crime in Utah County.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the facility will take place May 10.