The number of juveniles in Maricopa County, Arizona, that have been placed in jails meant for adults has increased almost two-fold since one year ago. It has been reported by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that, as of right now, there are 92 juveniles in MCSO jails. Of those juveniles, 79 are facing charges as adults and are waiting for their trials to commence. Also, three of the juveniles are being charged as such, but the MCSO is holding them for federal authorities.

According to the MCSO Deputy Chief, there aren’t any other jails in Arizona that will take in these juveniles who have orders from federal judges to be placed into the custody of the MCSO. Also, other jails will not take in juveniles who are facing charges of homicide or other dangerous crimes.

Juveniles held in MCSO jails are kept separately in “pods” from the adult prisoners. Any single pod can have any level — minimum, medium and maximum — of juvenile offenders. The goal is to keep juveniles in MCSO out of the adult inmate’s “sight and sound.”

The number of juveniles being placed in MCSO jails has increased significantly. In the past few years, according to the MCSO Deputy Chief, there would be between 50 to 60 juveniles placed in adult jails in Maricopa County. Now that number is 92. According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, even though fewer juveniles are being arrested, more of them are being placed in adult jails. This is due, in part, to the offenses being alleged, some of which must go to adult court.

In the end, one has to question whether juvenile offenders should be placed in adult jails. Many young people make mistakes because they are not as mature as adults or are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. These youths deserve to be treated fairly by our justice system, and this includes being held in the appropriate facilities. Juveniles facing criminal charges who are concerned that they may be placed in an adult jail may want to bring these concerns up to their juvenile defense attorneys.

Source: kjzz.org, “Arrests Down, But Juvenile Population Surges In Maricopa County Jail,” Jimmy Jenkins, Nov. 2, 2017