State to explore privatizing juvenile detention centers

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The state is seeking contractors to look into the feasibility of privatizing four of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ juvenile detention facilities.

The Peninsula Clarion reports that the department is considering privatizing four facilities in an effort to cut costs as the Legislature looks to trim the state budget. The feasibility study is required by a DHSS reform bill passed by the Legislature and currently waiting for Gov. Bill Walker’s signature.

DHSS Division of Juvenile Justice Director Rob Wood says the study will focus on if switching to private juvenile centers would both cut costs and maintain quality of care.

The study will focus on facilities in Kenai, Palmer, Nome and Ketchikan. Wood says those are short-term detention centers, unlike the department’s other four facilities.