On August 25, 1979, in the Reno County Detention Center, a 13-year-old boy was beaten and forced to commit acts of sodomy by three older juvenile boys. Two of the older youths were tried as adults and the other way dealt with under the juvenile code.
Each of the two older youth received a sentence of not less than five years nor more than life, and probation was not granted. All involved were under 18 years old. The impact on the victim and the offenders was devastating.
As a result of the incident and other concerns about the Reno County Detention Center, a Juvenile Task Force was formed to identify problems associated with the detention of juvenile offenders in Reno County and to recommend solutions. The Task Force was appointed by Reno County Commission Chairman Ralph Krehbiel and Hutchinson Mayor Joan Schrag. The following is the list of people who served on that task force:
In January of 1980, a report was made to the Hutchinson City Commission and the Board of County Commissioners which identified a critical need for a temporary residential shelter for troubled youth.
In January of 1982, the Juvenile Justice Committee was established to continue the efforts of the Juvenile Task Force. The following is a list of people who served on the Juvenile Justice Committee:
In May of 1982, a report was presented to the Board of County Commissioners, which included two key recommendations:
During the summer and fall of 1982, the two major recommendations were acted upon as follows:
On March 9, 1983, by Resolution 83-9, the Board of County Commissioners resolved that the operation of the shelter facility be a specific function and responsibility of Reno County under the direct supervision of the Board of Commissioners. The shelter was to be located at 211 West Second, in the building formerly occupied by Central Welding.
The Bob Johnson Youth Shelter began operation on August 29, 1983. The shelter was dedicated to the memory of Robert W. Johnson, former Lieutenant of the Hutchinson Police Department’s Juvenile Division, who long recognized the need for such a facility.
In 1985, an Attention Center was added onto the Bob Johnson Youth Shelter. The center was a 48-hour program for youth in the custody of law enforcement agencies. However, the Attention Center was not a secure facility and could not hold in custody those who did not want to be held.
In 1988, the State of Kansas began enforcing a Federal Mandate requiring that youth in legal custody could not be placed in adult jails. On December 21, 1988, by Resolution 88-70, the Board of Reno County Commissioners authorized the construction of a new facility that would house both the Bob Johnson Youth Shelter and a Juvenile Detention Center. The facility was to be used jointly but separately to provide detention for juvenile offenders and shelter for other juveniles in need of care.
On December 8, 1989, the Bob Johnson Youth Shelter moved to its new location at 219 West Second Avenue. Over 350 guests attended the open house and toured the new facility. The new 12,500 square foot building cost $805,000 and jointly houses the youth shelter and the juvenile detention center.
In August of 1995, the Department of Youth Services began operating the 27th Judicial District Juvenile Intake and Assessment Program. The program was originally funded through a grant from the Office of Judicial Administration and it is now funded through the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority.
The program was created to ensure that all children (infants to 18 years of age) are placed in the least restrictive placement available while ensuring safety for each child and the community. The program allows local law enforcement officers to minimize the time required by them to process a child, enabling a quicker return to other community needs and official duties.
The Juvenile Intake and Assessment Program is located in the Youth Services Annex at 216 West Second, which is directly across the street from the main facility.
In September of 1999, construction began on a nine bed addition to the Juvenile Detention Center. The addition was needed to address the detention needs of the South Central Kansas Region. The total construction costs of the addition was $550,000 and it was finished in June of 2000.