Mary Alice Reporting – Cost savings and more programming are the main reasons for Tuscarawas County to withdraw from the Multi-County Juvenile Detention System (MCJAS).

The Commissioners voted unanimously for the move that becomes effective December 31st.

MCJAS was originally formed in 1973 as a way to combine resources from multiple counties to provide better detention and treatment for youth and Judge Adam Wilgus says they have been a great partner over the years, but membership pricing has gone up and it cost the county, in 2022, $1.4 million.

“And the system has slowly been reducing in size and services that it provides and my final decision was that our resources could be allocated much better than what they have been.”

At the start of 2023, Tuscarawas County will have a 10-year contract with Muskingum County to provide juvenile detention services at a cost of $233,600 annually. Outside of the money savings, Judge Wilgus adds that more programs, such as remote family visitation and counseling services will be available, along with enhanced educational benefits.

“Every juvenile in detention receives a laptop and they will have the opportunity to actually log in, if their school has a remote educational program, and they will be doing their school’s curriculum rather than a general curriculum, they also provide screening for IEP’s, and they also provide schooling all-year-round and that’s not something that we have right now with our current arraignment.”

Wilgus notes that roughly $1.1 million is expected in annual savings for the county, which will be allocated for alcohol and drug treatment and prevention for Tuscarawas County juveniles.

“Oftentimes they come in and they are already addicted or they have already experimented and now we’re trying to problem-solve. I think there should be a responsibility on the court to also be active with prevention and I think educating of the risks and dangers of substance, that’s very important to provide that service.”

As for the existing center, on Reiser Avenue, it was built with MCJAS funding and is the property of that Multi-County System, giving them the final say as to what will happen with that space.

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