By Peter O'Dowd
Casper, Wy – Living conditions in Natrona County's juvenile detention center have come under attack by a California attorney. Pat Arthur of the National Center for Youth Law toured the former adult jail in December with state officials. She says the environment offers no outdoor physical activity, has unsafe sightlines and puts incarcerated children at risk for suicide in its depressing atmosphere.
"It's a very catacomb like facility. It was deemed unfit as a youth jail. I am very concerned about the safety of the youth there."
Arthur wants the building closed as soon as possible. But Natrona County Commissioner Rob Hendry says officials have no where else to put the children.
"We would have to transport the kids to Cheyenne, Cheyenne is 200 miles away. Judges, parents, lawyers, nobody likes to have them that far away."
Natrona County has state permission to use the building for about two years. And Hendry says plans to build a new juvenile jail have hit serious financial challenges. He says the county cannot raise an additional 10-million dollars without state help.