TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Twin Falls County Probation and Detention Center said they have more than 20 kids in state custody. A probation officer said this is an unusual influx for the department.
KMVT previously reported that the department has fewer youth in state custody because of the programs they offer. Probation Officer Anna Hawkins said the numbers are at a historic low but there is an influx right now.
She said the department does whatever they can to get the kids back on the right track and stay out of state custody.
“We just try to wrap the community resources around the kid and help them not go to commitment,” she said.
Those resources include equine therapy and the mortician and coroner class. If going to those programs don’t work, Hawkins said they get committed to state custody.
Kolbey, a 17-year-old Twin Falls resident, recently left St. Anthony’s early October.
“We snuck out of my dad’s house one time and we were using drugs at the time,” he told KMVT.
This was his second time committing an offense. Kolbey was at St. Anthony’s for about a year and a half.
“We were heartbroken. First of all it was the visiting. We knew we couldn’t see him and when he’s here in county we could visit him whatever,” said Jessica, Kolbey’s mom. “Making that trip and stuff was not fun. Leaving him was the hardest part and leaving him there and to know, he’s my kid, he’s my son. It was hard.”
In the program at St. Anthony’s, Kolbey said he was with a group of other guys who had similar problems. This is different than the single room at the Twin Falls County Juvenile Detention Center.
“I think that when I first got there, they encouraged us to just talk to our peers and talk to and tell them how we feel. I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world and I never talked to anybody, but my goal was to get out of there by myself and I didn’t need the group’s help,” Kolbey explained.
He said he went three months not asking for help, but it didn’t work.
“So I finally asked people, ‘Can I talk to you?’ and ‘I’m really struggling right now’ and then things just started falling in place,” he said.
As the kids are serving their time in commitment, Hawkins said the department puts together a plan of what will happen once the child is released.
“They really try and set the kids up for as much success as they possibly can when they’re on their way out,” she said.
She said the kids go through a lot of cognitive thinking while being committed.
“So when they come out, they’re totally different kids. You see the look on their faces, totally different,” she said.
Jessica said her son’s attitude and the way he looks is like night and day.
“He was not happy to go when he left but he changed his tune pretty quickly and I think he learned a lot,” Jessica said. “I’m pretty grateful he got to go to that program because I think that was the best one that they have available.”
Hawkins said once a youth is released from commitment, they are put on probation.
She added that many of the kids who go through state custody tend to get their GED. This was something that Kolbey did do.
"I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity that I was given. I wasn't grateful for it in the beginning. I am now,” he said.
He now works full time alongside his mother in the same company and is currently going through therapy as well.
“I think I’ve changed quite a bit. I know sometimes I don’t show it, but deep down I know I’ve changed a lot,” he said.