DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – With the opening of a new Youth Justice and Rehabilitation Center on Monday, Scott County officials are looking for new resources to build on an already safe operation.
Two juveniles face more criminal charges in adult court after attempting to escape from their current juvenile detention center in early October.
Laserrick Harper and Fernando Cooks are charged with kidnapping and third-degree assault in connection with the Oct. 6 escape attempt.
Director Jeremy Kaiser said escape attempts are rare and he has only seen two in his 13 years in charge.
“It will be a much safer facility than our current facility,” Kaiser said. “Our current facility is very secure. As long as I was there, we didn’t really have a successful escape.”
The current facility uses digital software to control access and badges that only open interior doors, making it difficult for an inmate to leave.
“We don’t rely on keys as much,” Kaiser said. “Even if a resident managed to get a badge, they still wouldn’t be able to escape.”
Detention counselors, who deal with juveniles on a daily basis, are trained in de-escalation tactics and undergo annual refresher courses, usually stopping an incident before it happens.
“Our staff does a great job of building relationships and developing relationships,” Kaiser said. “It doesn’t exactly sound like something they should be running away from.”
The new YJRC is adding spaces like a quiet room and a special room. Kaiser said the new building will not only help the children, but also the staff.
“Having a more regulatory environment is also good for employees. ” Kaiser said. “We will also have improved employee support spaces with this facility… [It will be] just a better place to work in general.”
Both Haper and Cooks already face gun charges in adult court, something Kaiser said could be a factor in their attempts.
“We had some individuals who were looking at very serious crimes and trying to take advantage of the current situation,” Kaiser said.
Harper and Cooks are scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 27 in connection with their attempted escape.
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