Cochise County Juvenile Detention Center working on justice reform by promoting education, prevention

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:29 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Cochise County Juvenile Detention Center is working on juvenile justice reform by promoting education and prevention instead of putting kids behind bars.

The county saved millions of dollars by shutting down the juvenile detention facility in 2021. Now it sits empty, but it still has a purpose. Chief Probation Officer John Schow said the education they provide has juvenile crime at the lowest it’s ever been.

“Now we’re averaging .7, so less than one kid per day,” Schow said. “Several times we’ve gone 23 days without having anyone in detention.”

When someone is detained, they’re transferred to Pinal County. A partnership that saves Cochise County money and allows them to use the empty spaces for good by mentoring youth on probation.

“We target interventions individually on each kid, the reasons and behaviors that brought them here, and we work on changing those behaviors,” Schow said.

Through education and rehabilitation, officers work to help youth pave a path forward.

“All kids are going to be successful with us, no exceptions. We believe that and the kids see that. They see you’re not here to catch me doing something wrong, you’re here to help teach me how to do things right,” Schow said.

While crime is decreasing and fewer juveniles are being detained, 13 News asked how those big crimes, like human smuggling near the border, don’t have numbers at the juvenile detention center going up.

“Those kids are usually being arrested and charged as adults and that is happening quite a bit here in Cochise County. We’re right on the border and we have several reports of young people and adults coming from other parts of the state and picking up people and transporting them and they’re getting pulled over every day,” Schow said.

Since probation officers are really making a difference by helping youth understand their worth, the county will spend an entire week this summer giving back to those officers to show their appreciation for law enforcement.