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Oconto County shutting down juvenile detention center

GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - At least one Wisconsin county is closing its juvenile detention center, because the number of youths incarcerated has become so low.

Oconto County will shut down its facility at the end of the month.

Juveniles accused of committing more serious crimes will be shipped south to Green Bay, where they’ll be held in Brown County’s much larger facility.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette says the move is a result of a big drop in juvenile arrests in Wisconsin, which we first learned about last week.

The National Juvenile Justice Network and the Texas Public Policy Foundation said Wisconsin is one of just nine states to have dramatic decreases in juveniles who are being locked up. Just under 600 teens were incarcerated in public facilities in the Badger State in 2010 – only about half as many as 10 years before.

Brian Laurent of the Brown County center says different alternatives to incarceration are being created, as we keep learning more about human behavior.

Greg Benish of Brown County’s juvenile court staff tells the Press-Gazette for lower level offenders, treatment and case management can be more effective than punishment.

The national report said 150 juveniles were being held in 2010 for every 100,000 10-to-16-year-olds. That’s 28 percent below the national average.