Rise in serious juvenile crimes creates challenges for Hall County Jail

Hall County Department of Corrections Director Todd Bahensky said it has been difficult to keep up with the rise in juveniles staying at their facility.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Last week, two teenagers were arrested and charged as adults after committing a number of serious crimes in Grand Island, one of them even shooting at police officers. But it’s not only these two teens that are causing issues in the community, Grand Island Police Department reports that juveniles are committing more serious crimes than before. It’s impacting the police force and also creating challenges for the Hall County Department of Corrections.

GIPD Capt. Jim Duering told Local4 News they’ve noticed an increase in the number of violent offenses by juveniles, many times involving firearms and drugs.

“Summer upticks in juvenile crime is not uncommon, the level of crimes that are being committed seems to be escalating,” Duering said.

Across the street from GIPD offices, four juveniles are being lodged at the Hall County Jail. While this may not seem like a great amount to some, Hall County Corrections Director Todd Bahensky said it’s the highest number he’s seen since he started in his position nearly seven years ago.

Keeping up with the rise in juveniles staying at their facility has made things complicated.

“The challenge that we face is that we’re not a juvenile facility, we’re an adult facility so, we don’t have a dedicated place to house them,” Bahensky noted.

He added, inmates under 18 years old have to be isolated from the adults. The four juveniles are being held in the jail’s infirmary cells, which are meant for inmates who have serious medical issues or who have fallen ill.

The juveniles are filling up all four of their infirmary cells, leaving staff to find alternative options when one of the adult inmates require special attention.

To top things off, the Hall County Jail is also understaffed.

“Our staff is pretty short right now as it is so, that makes it more difficult,” Bahensky said. ”And now... we have this infirmary that’s generally, we don’t house people there for any long periods of time but now, we have to make sure somebody gets in there and checks regularly.”

Bahensky continued to say, their correctional officers have to check on the juveniles every 10-15 minutes. When they don’t have enough people on shift to do so, he said they have to call in other staff to work overtime.

If the increase in serious crimes committed by juveniles continues, Bahensky said the jail will have to make further adjustments.

“We will find other arrangements to house them somewhere else, which would probably be through the state… they do have some juvenile housing that they can do when they’re charged… with felony crimes,” he said.

Capt. Duering said GIPD officers are working to shutdown this wave crimes.

“We’re doing what we can to combat that and, hopefully, making this series of arrests, we’ll see some reduction going forward,” Duering said.

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