Amador County’s chief probation officer will soon have the option to send young offenders to the newly opened Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility in Sonora.

At a meeting Tuesday in Jackson, the Amador County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Tuolumne County to use the new regional juvenile hall on an as needed basis. The two sides signed an agreement in 2009 prior to applying for the $16 million state grant that funded construction of the 30-bed facility.

“The board was really good about wanting to honor that relationship without totally tying the hands of their chief probation officer,” said Tuolumne County Administrator Craig Pedro, who gave a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting with Tuolumne County Chief Probation Officer Linda Downey and District 1 Supervisor Sherri Brennan.

Amador County houses juveniles at facilities in El Dorado and Nevada counties under separate contracts with each. The board gave direction for county staff to consider Tuolumne County as the first priority.

Pedro said they discussed about the possibility of exclusively using Tuolumne County’s facility, but the board wanted to keep the other agreements in place to give their chief probation officer some flexibility.

“It was a good, healthy conversation between two county partners,” Pedro said. “That’s why we went into this kind of relationship with Amador and Calaveras counties.”

All three counties previously formed a joint-powers authority in 1998 with the purpose of building a $5 million regional juvenile hall. However, the group disbanded in 2001 after being unable to find a suitable location.

Pedro said that Downey stressed to the Amador County supervisors that the partnership was not only a financial one, and they would be willing to discuss suggestions regarding the types programs offered at the facility.

The contract would be for $100 per day for each bed used.

Mark Bonini, chief probation officer of Amador County, said he typically averages about two kids in custody at a time, but he currently has five. He added that he can go “significant periods” without having any young offenders in custody.

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