The highly anticipated — highly controversial — new, expanded Scott County Juvenile Detention Center — is officially set to be built at the county’s current Tremont warehouse on the corner of 46th Street and Tremont Avenue.
As plans for construction move forward, human rights organizations across the state of Iowa are opposing rigorously.
“This particular use of funds as proposed to build a new, expanded juvenile detention facility really doesn’t have anything to do with COVID at all,” said ACLU Executive Director Mark Stringer.
Supervisor Tony Knobbe supports the construction of the new facility.
He believes it is an appropriate use of American Rescue Plan Act money.
“There’s also the economic impacts. Many and most cities, counties, states suffered a lot of revenue, so this is truly a need in the community,” said Knobbe.
The ACLU called ethics into question.
They cited that 1 out of every 22 black children in Scott County will be incarcerated, compared to 1 of every 457 of their white counterparts.
“These are deeply disturbing numbers,” said Stringer. “To be expanding a juvenile detention facility when these are the racial disparities at play is very troubling.”
The project is estimated to cost about $21 million — $7.2 million coming from the COVID-19 relief fund.
While representatives from the Scott County Board of Supervisors assure they’ve consulted with financial and legal advisors who say the use of ARPA money is appropriate and legally justified, organizations like the ACLU say — if plans continue to move forward — they are prepared to look into the next steps.