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Why this QC faith leader opposes Scott Co. using COVID funds for juvenile detention center

In order to combat the prison pipeline, Rev. Kirk argues the ARPA funds should have gone toward after-school programs, literacy centers and other youth resources.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Scott County Board of Supervisors continues to face scrutiny after voting to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to build a new and expanded juvenile detention center in Davenport.

County supervisors said they consulted with several state and county officials before dedicating $7 million in ARPA funds to the project. However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa warned it was a misuse of federal funds and was taking its concerns to the U.S. Department of Treasury and considering legal action against the board.

RELATED: Despite public criticism, Scott County dedicates ARPA funds to new juvenile detention center

Quad Cities community leaders argued COVID-19-relief money could have been better used in a way that didn't continue the trend of youth incarceration.

"I wish the board would have looked at the future at how we could best utilize that money to keep kids from being incarcerated," Rev. Rogers Kirk of Third Missionary Baptist Church in Davenport said. "There's so many things that they could do and utilize that funding for."

Kirk is the president and chief executive officer of Together Making a Better Community, a nonprofit formed in 2021 that takes a proactive approach to incarceration by working with students in the Davenport Community Schools District who have fallen behind.

He said he would've liked to have seen the ARPA funds go towards after-school programs, literacy centers and youth resources like TMBC in order to combat what is known as the "prison pipeline."

RELATED: NAACP calling for Scott County Board of Supervisors to reconsider new expanded juvenile detention center

According to the ACLU, the school-to-prison pipeline is a national trend where kids are funneled out of public schools and into juvenile or criminal justice systems. 

"Give them a positive roadmap," Kirk said. "Give them a place that they can actually grow. That's what we need … (build) facilities that will help them grow and excel."

Kirk said he hopes this will serve as motivation for the community to get behind new political leaders with the best interest in mind for Quad Cities youth.

"Get behind those who are running for political office and demand these things that will help our community," Kirk said. "If we don't do it, it will continue to be 'business as usual.'"

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