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AZTEC — The San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center will soon be housing youth from Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties in addition to the youth from San Juan, McKinley and Cibola counties.

Youth from Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties are currently housed at Santa Fe County’s juvenile detention center. But Santa Fe County has announced it will no longer accept youth from outside the county and may close its juvenile detention center in the future.

There are six juvenile detention centers in the state, and two of those facilities may be closing.

San Juan County Juvenile Services Administrator Traci Neff said the state may move to having regional juvenile detention centers. If that happens, San Juan County will serve as the regional center for the northwest portion of the state.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, sponsored a Senate memorial and Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla, sponsored a House memorial this year that would create a task force to make recommendations about juvenile detention. An analysis attached to the memorials states that facilities are closing due to low numbers of detained youth. More than 40% of the beds in the state were empty in fiscal year 2019.

Neff said there are more requirements for operating a juvenile detention center than an adult detention center. That means some counties save money by closing their juvenile detention centers and transporting youth to other facilities.

Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties will pay San Juan County $225 per individual per day to house youth at the center.

The San Juan County Commission unanimously approved the contracts with Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties during its meeting Feb. 18.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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