DAVENPORT, Iowa — Scott County broke ground for its Youth Justice and Rehabilitation Center on Monday, Oct. 17.
Formerly known as the Scott County Juvenile Detention Center, the facility has been in development since 2018.
The modern building will have 36 beds with four extra beds for overflow. The county's aging facility first opened in 1980 and was a repurposed car dealership.
"It's small, it's cramped, it's archaic," Youth Justice Center Director Jeremy Kaiser said about the old location. "This [new] facility will be a modern facility. It'll be a much more normative environment — much more like a library or school, where we have bright colors, lots of natural light."
Kaiser added that they want to offer more than just a place to simply detain juveniles, with the goal of adding counseling programs.
"Our first focus is making sure that we have a fully implemented system that is evidence-based and effective in changing youth behavior," Kaiser said.
He also said that with more beds at the location, they won't have to send kids to other detention centers, which could be hours away.
"These families - a lot of them do not have the ability to take a day off work and travel three hours away to visit their son or daughter for 15 minutes and then travel three hours back," Kaiser said. "A lot of them don't have the means to travel either."
Kaiser also explained how the added beds will keep kids closer to the community, allowing them easier access to legal assistance and their schools.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa has heavily criticized the project in the past, mainly because Scott County was planning to use millions of dollars in COVID relief funds.
"We determined that we had sufficient funds in our Capital Improvement Project that we could proceed further with not using the ARPA funds," Scott County Board Chairman Ken Beck said. "[We will] use the ARPA funds for other capital improvement projects."
County leaders hope the center's brighter environment, modern design and rehab programs will help prevent youths from becoming repeat offenders.
"The majority of the kids that come to our detention center - and you have to remember this is detention, this is not incarceration ... 67% of the first-time offenders don't come back again - and they're first-time offenders," Beck said. "So we want to make that process as positive as it can be."
The Scott County Youth Justice and Rehabilitation Center will be at 4715 Tremont Avenue in Davenport, IA.
The land previously hosted the Scott County Warehouse, Scott County Sheriff Patrol Headquarters and the Jail Annex.
Watch more news, weather and sports on News 8's YouTube channel