Local youth speak out against proposed juvenile detention center

Scott County Juvenile Detention Center
Scott County Juvenile Detention Center(KWQC)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 12:03 AM EST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Two organizations held a press conference for Scott County youth to speak out against a new proposed juvenile dentition, Sunday afternoon.

Currently, the proposed site for the detention center is a parking lot at Warren St. and 4th St. This site is right across the street from Project Renewal, a youth outreach program in Downtown Davenport.

Avery Pearl, the founder of Quad Cities Community Advocacy Network, felt Scott County ignored youth he brought to board meetings.

“They weren’t taking our voices serious,” Pearl said. " They would let us talk at them, but not with them.”

Speakers as young as 10 years old and as old as high school seniors spoke about their experience growing up in Davenport.

“This place is my home, and the people here are my family and friends,” Kylen Phillips, a senior at Davenport Central said. “We deserve to have the same opportunities as people in every other city in Scott County.”

A recent Davenport North graduate, currently attending Western Illinois Univerity, said the county isn’t addressing the root cause of youth crime.

“Many of these children have learning disabilities, or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect,” Alleena Blackwell said. “ [They] would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are criminalized, isolated, punished and pushed out.”

Students also touched on how they’ve seen programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Project Renewal Help their community.

Davenport Central Senior Henry Justin said he wants to see the county invest more in organizations that help the community, rather than a detention center.

“We need to invest in solutions, not shortcuts,” Justin said. “If we don’t address the problems that are causing the disparities in our community — systematic racism — we will have to keep investing money in our juvenile justice system in the future.”

Overall organizers called for the county to expand programs to develop the youth workforce and help them build their own assets.

Pearl said the younger generation deserves a seat at the table for these discussions.

“If we bring them into the process now, and we start getting them comfortable in this decision making,” Pearl said. “When it comes time for them to make the decisions that are hard they’ll have years worth of ... preparation under their belts”

According to Scott County officials, a new center is needed to keep up with the demand of juveniles in custody.

The current detention center can hold 18 juveniles, however, in the last five years, an average of 24.8 juveniles were in custody every month. It reached a peak capacity of 39.5 juveniles in January 2019. The new facility is proposed to hold 40 juveniles.

The Scott County Board of Supervisors will have a presentation on the proposed center at its next meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 5 p.m.

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