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Campos pushes juvenile center

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By David Giuliani

State Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, is seeking $4.5 million for a center for youth offenders in Las Vegas, but it may be difficult to get that money in a declining economy.

According to analysis by the staff of the Legislative Finance Committee, the state Children, Youth and Families Department wants to build juvenile justice centers in smaller facilities throughout New Mexico. The agency had hoped to build the first one in the state’s northeastern quadrant, which includes Las Vegas.

The smaller centers would reflect the system used in Missouri, which officials say has shown positive results. The legislative analysis states that such a system reduces the rate of juvenile offenders committing crimes again.

But because of the declining national economic, the department is revising its plan to carry out key components of the Missouri model such as greater staff-to-youth ratios within its existing facilities.

Once the economy improves, the state is expected to return to its plan of smaller regional facilities.