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Plan puts adult treatment center within Denney

EVERETT — On average, more than 90 of the 124 beds at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center lie empty each night, a superfluity that has prompted the Snohomish County Council to hire an architectural firm to draw up plans that will convert unused parts of the facility to new purposes..
The project, in the early stages, would convert up to 30 beds at Denney on 10th Street for housing people with mental illness and behavioral health issues, and treating substance abuse
dependency.
A second option considers putting the services in a building adjacent to the Denney lockup.
Late last month, the County Council approved a contract with KMD Architects to “determine if current vacant space at Denney Juvenile Justice Center might be repurposed to accommodate a behavioral health treatment facility,” according to Cammy Hart-Anderson, a division manager at Snohomish County Human Services.
The five-county North Sound Behavioral Health Organization is partnering with the county to “determine if moving forward with (converting) the Denney space is reasonable,” she said.
North Sound BHO has committed $2.5 million to the project; Snohomish County is chipping in $500,000. Legislators in Olympia will be asked for additional money to make the project a reality.
“Denney was originally built to detain up to 130 youth,” Hart-Anderson said. “With changes in sentencing guidelines, the census of Denney is typically 30 or less. At the same time, there is a need for expanded behavioral health treatment facilities in Snohomish County.”
KMD Architects, a San Francisco-based firm with offices in Seattle and Port-land, will provide conceptual designs and cost estimates for converting part of the Denney into a mental health assist-ance wing for both voluntary and involuntary admissions.
“The architect is being asked to determine if the vacant space can accommodate either one or two 16-bed facilities.
We are targeting 16-bed facilities as the federal Medicaid system covers the cost associated with providing treatment in facilities that contain 16 beds or less,” she stated.
Some of the vacant space will be remodeled to create a therapeutic environment with natural lighting, group therapy rooms, counseling offices, individual sleeping rooms and calming wall colors, according to Hart-Anderson.
“The architect has also been asked to assure the
design is such that youth in detention will not be able to see or hear individuals in the behavioral treatment facility. This will require a separate entrance, sound proofing and other design considerations in a potential remodel,”
Hart-Anderson said. “Snohomish County is fortunate to have a strong partnership
with the North Sound BHO. We’re hopeful that additional behavioral health facilities can be located in our county, if not at Denney then elsewhere as the need for treatment services currently exceeds our capacity to provide it.”
KMD is expected to complete its work in approximately three months and include a number of remodeling options to consider.
Denney was built for $24 million and opened in 1998 to house up to 124 juvenile offenders. It reached an average daily population of 82 in 2001, but has since recorded significant declines in the number of detainees, according to a 2015 study commissioned by the county from Seattle consulting firm BERK.
In 2014, it had an average of 27 beds filled. The facility was built in the 1990s in an era that promoted being “tough on crime,” the study notes.
The reasons for fewer detainees is because of fewer teen arrests, juvenile drug court and remote monitor-ing. Changes in how crime is addressed moved away from locking up teens.
Study writers reported the county won’t need the vacant beds for juveniles again solely because of population growth.
An August 2015 article reported the facility’s annual budget to be about $6.6 million, most of which pays for the salaries and benefits of Denney’s 70 budgeted positions, including 46 juvenile corrections officers, plus supervisors, cooks, nurses and more. That’s down from 88 budgeted positions
in 2005. Denney’s staffing levels may have to stay relatively constant because the juveniles require 24/7 supervision, the report notes.

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