Youth lockup showdown looms | Arkansas Blog

Youth lockup showdown looms

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The Legislative Council may take up Friday turning over a $160 million seven-year contract to an Indiana company, Youth Opportunity Investments, to run seven youth lockups around the state now operated by local organizations.

A legislative review panel wouldn't approve the deal Tuesday. Some of that same negative sentiment could prevail Friday. Or, the council may simply not take the matter up. In which case, then what? Some of the local operators fear the Hutchinson administration, so intent on making the changeover, will use an emergency procurement procedure to make the switchover Jan. 1.

The operators fearful of being ousted are complaining mightily — to me and legislators — about a significant  (58 percent) increase in cost of the contract and also that the contract with the Indiana provider doesn't contain the much more detailed requirements placed on them. In the first year, services that now cost $13 million would jump to $22 million.

Here's a spread sheet one operator put together itemizing differences in the contract for the Indiana provider and that placed on local agencies. The critics are also distributing information about harsh criticism of operations of Indiana facilities under the supervision of an official who led the preparation of the application to operate Arkansas facilities.

As they say, stay tuned.

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