GRANDVIEW - The Yakima County Gang Commission met yesterday (Tuesday) in Grandview for its monthly meeting, where members discussed a possible gang court in Yakima County and the addition of 24 new beds at the Yakima County Juvenile Detention Center.
Randy Town, coordinator for the Yakima County Gang Commission, said the group will soon apply for a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention that will help get guns off the streets. He said the grant money would be used to either buy back the guns or to beef up patrols to confiscate them.
The grant would also be used to form a gang court, which Yakima County Superior Court judges have agreed to do, according to Harold Delia, Yakima County court administrator.
He said the newly formed court would focus on the top 90 gang members in the county. If a gang member gets in trouble they would go to the court and be given specific goals to complete the program.
Failure to meet the requirements would result in the gang members going to detention. If the gang members don't complete the program, then the next time they get arrested for a crime, they would be charged as an adult if they are 16 years of age.
"Our message to them is if you don't make it, we're not going to screw with you anymore," he told the other commission members.
"This grant is the perfect connection to get that off the ground," Yakima County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey said of the program.
Delia added that if this gang court is formed Yakima County would be the only jurisdiction in the United States doing something like this.
Delia also floated a plan that would increase the capacity at the Yakima County Juvenile Detention Center by 24 beds, but only if the city governments are willing to pony up.
The detention center opened in 1995 with a capacity of 94 beds. Since then, that number has dwindled to 42 available beds.
The current budget to operate this facility is $2,482,556, or a daily rate of $161.95 per bed. Delia said at an additional cost of $582,135 a total of 24 more beds could be added. Since no additional fixed costs would be required, the daily cost of each of the 66 beds would lower to $127.21.
City governments in Yakima County would be asked to cover the extra $582,135. Delia outlined two ways this cost could be covered. One way would be to take the yearly cost based on the actual number of bed days used by each city. Another way would be to take the yearly costs based on percentage of the total city populations.
Depending on which method is used could make a huge difference. For instance, Sunnyside had 459 bed days used in 2010. Using this method the cost to Sunnyside would be $63,740.45. If the costs were determined by city populations, then the cost to Sunnyside would be $57,934.07.
Grandview, on the other hand, had a total of 870 bed days used in 2010. By using that number Grandview's share would be $120,815.23. If the city population was used, then Grandview's share would drop to $39,684.14.
Delia did say that his numbers could be lowered if the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention grant is awarded. Some of that money could be used to offset the cost for the increase in beds.
Sunnyside Mayor Jim Restucci, who attended yesterday's meeting, told the Daily Sun News he would bring this information to the Sunnyside City Council at its next meeting, Monday, April 25.