A new Juvenile Detention Center in Scott County got a ceremonial beginning.

Scott County leaders shoveled dirt for a groundbreaking to launch the project Monday morning.

It will be built on Tremont Avenue utilizing county property that the sheriff’s department once used.

A modern juvenile facility should be ready in the spring of 2024.

What is now an empty lot is ready for a transformation.

“Everybody I think is in agreement we need a new modern facility that can better serve the purposes of the kids,” Scott County Board of Supervisors Chair Ken Beck said.

Scott County will turn the empty lot into this:

The architect’s vision will basically double the county’s capacity to house juvenile offenders.

“I think the data supports our decisions and ultimately the community knows we’re focused on rehabilitating youth and working to create more productive citizens,” Scott County Juvenile Detention Center Director Jeremy Kaiser said.

But the project did not come without opposition. Critics from the ACLU were concerned the county planned to use American Rescue Plan money for the project.

“We all heard the criticism and we determined we had the funds in the Capital Improvement Fund that we could proceed further not using ARPA funds,” Beck said.

The ACLU also was concerned Black children disproportionally face juvenile detention.

Kaiser points out the new detention center’s goal is to be more like a classroom and less like a detention facility, with a goal of making their time in juvenile detention their last in the criminal justice system.

“This facility will be a modern facility that will be a much more normative environment, like a library or a school where we have bright colors… much more use of natural light,” Kaiser said. “For example, we have local juvenile court liaisons that work in the high schools so they’ll actually bring their homework down to the detention center to continue working on their homework while they’re detained with us. If they’re out in other facilities, obviously that becomes much more difficult.”

Right now Scott County has jurisdiction over 19 juvenile offenders — five of them have had to be moved out of the county due to lack of space.