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Juvenile suspects will now be fingerprinted and processed at the Juvenile Detention Center

Posted at 3:02 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 17:02:17-05

After years of budgeting, the Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center now owns a fully operational live scanning fingerprint machine.

JDC Administrator Shanna Bulik-Chism said the system will allow the center to rely on their own resources instead of having to use the the ink fingerprint system at the adult detention center across town. Doing so will save hours on the job.

“It can be anywhere from an hour to three four hours depending on whether the juvenile is cooperative, how long it takes to get everybody locked down in the facility, have adequate staffing to do the fingerprinting, and so forth,” Bulik-Chism said

Before they had a system of their own, officers had to spend “dead time” waiting for juveniles to go through the booking process and comply with the fingerprint process - which, Bulik-Chism said - isn’t always a given.

“Once they get the juvenile in there, they’re not always cooperative, of course, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. They have to have staff there to fingerprint the juvenile in which case, it sometimes takes more than one to get them to comply,” Bulik-Chism said.

If the juvenile is compliant, the officer still spends time waiting for the juvenile to complete the process and transport them back to the JDC.

Now that the new digital fingerprint system is onsite, fingerprinting is likely to be less complex. Bulik-Chism said that’s due in part to the fact that juveniles are more receptive to officers onsite than at the adult detention center.

“The staff here are especially trained in dealing with juveniles, so they’ve got that expertise behind them. They also have a rapport with the juveniles. Oftentimes they know them. And so, they may be uncooperative when the officer brings them in and as soon as they see that face that they’re used to seeing, they become completely cooperative,” Bulik-Chism said.

That means the juveniles are more likely to be compliant with fingerprinting at the JDC than at the Cascade County Detention Center, making the fingerprinting process run more efficiently.

“This is going to be extremely efficient, extremely time saving. they can drop them off and do their tickets and probable cause and get back out on the street,” Bulik-Chism said.

(1st Report, February 28) The Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center in Great Falls has taken over the processing and fingerprinting of juvenile offenders from the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office. The change went into effect on Monday, March 2nd.

A press release from JDC administrator Shanna Bulik-Chism says that this is an "extremely vital service" as it will allow law enforcement officers to be back out on patrol much quicker after arresting a felony youth offender.

Prior to the JDC offering this service, officers often had to wait hours for jail staff to move inmates out of the booking area since it is a requirement for youth to be sight and sound separate from adults.

The facility would then be required to go into lockdown until the fingerprinting process was complete. Bulik-Chism said that this was a "huge inconvenience" for jail staff and law enforcement. Officers/Deputies would have to wait for the juvenile to be fingerprinted and then take them to the juvenile detention facility.

The JDC will now process all juvenile offenders (misdemeanor and felony) that are arrested and brought to secure detention. This will assist in any missing person’s investigations, identification, etc. Only those youth who are being tried as an adult will have their fingerprints transmitted to the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice.

The Cascade County JDC will be the only juvenile facility in Montana to process fingerprints of juveniles.

Bulik-Chism says that this new partnership between the JDC and CCSO is imperative and has been a dream of her, Sheriff Jesse Slaughter, and Undersheriff Cory Reeves for some time.

The JDC website says the facility is "a 24-bed, long-term facility that provides a safe, secure environment for criminally charged youth, ages 10-18 years old. Detention services are provided to the North Central Region (Cascade, Toole, Blaine, Hill, Pondera, Choteau, Broadwater, Glacier, Lewis & Clark, Teton, Phillips, and Liberty Counties). The Center also provides detention services to Counties outside the region, as well as the Department of Corrections, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the US Marshalls. While in detention the youth receive a variety of services including: year round full day school with two full time certified teachers, therapeutic and recreational services to include Yoga, AA, Bible Study, Church, Game Night, Team Building and Adventure Groups, Nutrition Education, Art and Pet Therapy, Responsible Choices, and Mentoring."