Juvenile Detention

Overview & Mission
Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center


Juvenile detention, as part of the juvenile justice continuum, is a process that includes the temporary and safe custody of juveniles whose alleged conduct is subject to court jurisdiction who require a restricted environment for their own and the community’s protection while pending legal action*. Juvenile detention may range from the least restrictive community based supervision to the most restrictive form of secure care.

The critical components of juvenile detention include:

  • Screening to ensure appropriate use of detention,
  • Assessment to determine the proper level of custody, supervision and placement,
  • Policies that promote the safety, security and well being of juveniles and staff,
  • Services that address immediate and/or acute needs in the educational, mental, physical, emotional and social development of juveniles.

Based on the Definition of Detention as adopted by the National Juvenile Detention Association, October 14, 2007
*(Idaho Code also allows the use of secure detention as a dispositional alternative.)


The mission of the Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center is to furnish architecturally secure detention for those youths within Idaho’s Third Judicial District who have violated the law and present a threat to the community, subject to the determination of the courts.  Further, the Center shall be an integral part of the Juvenile Justice system as it exists in Canyon County and all participating counties.

SWIJDC is committed to uphold and follow the guidelines of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act which are contained in the four core requirements, which are:

  • Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders
  • Jail Removal
  • Sight and Sound Separation of Juvenile from Adult Offenders
  • Disproportionate Minority Contact

SWIJDC is also committed to support the tenets of the “Balanced Approach,” upon which the Idaho Juvenile Corrections Act is based.  Those are:

  • Community Protection,
  • Accountability, and
  • Competency Development.

ARISE Program

in approximately 2013, Officer Muntaga Bah found information about the ARISE program, and became a faciltator.  The Arise program is used to teach the residents topics including, but certainly not limited to fatherhood, gang resistance, anger management, healthy lifestyles, self esteem, nutrition, hygiene, finances, etc.


Several times per year, Officer Candy Martilla teaches the residents about horses in the classroom, and then actually brings three of hers in for the kids to groom and ride.  At the end of “Horse Week,” parents can come in and watch their son or daughter ride.
Horse Project 3 Horse Project 2 Horse Project 1


The Juvenile Probation Community Service Coordinator, Ross Garven, brought a load of bikes in for our residents to triage, fix, salvage or do whatever we could with them.  Officer Nathaniel Ashby has been our resident expert in this program.  The bikes are then donated to needy families.

Small Engines

Deputy Director Sean Brown spearheaded a small engine “repair” group.  We have had several donations, and the kids dig into the engines to see what makes them work.  Some things actually do get repaired, but there are no promises!  Staff have used some of their own equipment as guinea pigs, with surprisingly good results.
Small Engines Project 2 Small Engines Project 1

Pat Andersen School Garden

In Spring 2011, the SWIJDC began the Pat Andersen School Garden with a grant from the Idaho State Department of Education and through the help of more than a dozen local sponsors who donated seeds, soil, mulch, plants, fertilizer, irrigation supplies, lumber and other items.

The garden acts as an outdoor classroom for the juvenile detainees and gives them a hands-on experience as they work towards the common goal of creating a thriving vegetable garden.

Under the direction of Garden Coordinator Craig Olsen,  the Pat Andersen School Garden has harvested over 6,000 pounds of produce that has been donated to charities across Canyon County.

Project Garden 1Project Garden 2Project Garden 3


We will try and post letters, or articles, etc., that are relevant to the mission and goal of the Center.  We cannot promise that every letter we receive will be posted due to space and time constraints, but we will do our best.

Memo to all future Criminals

The following is an unsolicited letter from an ex-resident of the Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center. We have elected to print it exactly as it was written, even though there are a couple inaccuracies:

This is a memo to all future Criminals

I want to tell you about the Juvenile Detention Center (J.D.C.). Out of a twenty-four hour day you go to school for five hours. After school you will get an hour of gym, then later on in the day you get an hour of leisure time. In the old facilities the cells are 8 feet by 10 feet and there are 18 of these cells with 2 holding cells. In the new facilities the rooms are 8 feet by 5 feet, there are 60 of these new cells so there’s always room. There’s one window in your room you are forbidden to look out of it unless told to. You can never trust the food because it’s made at the Canyon County Jail and you never know what those inmates might put in it or do to it. These are some descriptions of the beautiful clothes that you get to wear; the pants are green and white striped, orange, and blue, the shirts are dark green, white, light green, and orange. The only items that you are allowed in your cell is; one book, one bible, one deck of cards, and any of your mail. Your parents and grandparents can visit you on Wednesday and Sunday for one hour. You get your blankets at 7:00 p.m. and have to fold them and put them outside your cell at 5:30 a.m. You love your blankets because it gets pretty cold in here. It’s a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit and even colder after you get out of the shower. You must obey all rules and the staff and respect them and the other juveniles if not you will be put in lock down. Theirs only one thing you have to do to stay out of a place as this and that’s stay out of TROUBLE, AND SAY NO TO DRUGS AND ALCOHAL I would also like to point out that this place is heavenly compared to Saint Anthony’s and J.D.C West. I sincerely hope that this letter will encourage you not to commit crimes because this is not some place you would like to be trust me. If it didn’t their will always be room for you here at South West Idaho Juvenile Detention Center.

Ex inmate M______ ____

This letter was wrote while my stay at J.D.C as an inmate.


This page and the pictures may be downloaded or copied, printed off to be used in reports for school.

This page was started on May 1, 2003, and more will be added as more questions come in.

Juvenile Hallway(Hallway) Here is a view down one of the hallways. You are looking at 12 cells. There are 12 more immediately upstairs, making it 24 for each wing.  We have 3 wings, giving us 72 regular rooms. We also have a 14 bed dormitory and 4 observation rooms. The bags hanging from the hinges contain laundry. The white piles on the floor are the freshly laundered bedding and linen. The closest door on the right, with the sliding hatch, is a shower.



Juvenile Cell(Cell Interior) This is one of the cells. The kids must fold their bedding and keep the room neat at all times.






Juvenile Booking(Booking Area) This is our booking office. Kathy is booking in a juvenile. All of the information goes into our database, then we fingerprint, photograph and change the kids into our clothing. All of the information we have, including fingerprints and photographs, are available to any law enforcement agency and the FBI.




Juvenile Trays(Dayroom with food trays) This is the dayroom, almost all set up for the kids to come in and grab a tray before going to their rooms to eat. Just before the kids come through, we put sandwiches on the trays, and spoon out the soup. Our ‘magazine rack’ is the table in the back of the room.  The game cabinet is the dark thing on the far right. Our library shelves are just out of sight past the game cabinet. You must earn the privilege of using the exercise machine.




Juvenile School(School Room) This is our school. We have 3 classrooms in operation, with 3 teachers and an aide. In this picture, our aide is helping a juvenile.  Notice the clothing. The kid on the right is on Level 3, which means he gets some more privileges that the kid on the left, who is on Level 2. Privileges include more time out of their room, more gym time, more phone calls each week, visitation with extended family members, more books in their cells, etc.



Over the years, juvenile detention centers have evolved from warehouses that offered little or no programming into centers where the juveniles can attend school, helpful classes such as anger management, drug and alcohol awareness, cognitive restructuring, life skills, creative writing, etc. Depending on size and resources, other programs may be available. The SWIJDC also has a small wood shop (Very limited tools and projects), and we do easy sewing projects, etc. The juveniles have to earn the privilege to enter these programs.

It is the duty of the juvenile detention center to try to teach things to the juveniles that will make them better citizens when they get out.

Here are some more questions that have been asked by others:

How many kids can the facility hold? We have 90 beds, but we have enough staff to hold about 56 kids right now. As population rises, we will hire more staff.

How long do they usually stay in detention? The average stay is about 15 days, but we some juveniles have been here for a year or longer.

How many kids are in the facility now and on the average? The average over the past 2 years has been a steady at around 45. We usually see a dip at certain times of the year, but we also see peaks in population at other times of the year. Our population has reached 74 in the past.

Why are the kids in there? Kids can come into the center only if they are accused of, or have committed a crime. We don’t hold anyone for being abused or neglected. We have some kids who come in because they failed to go to court on minor offenses, like smoking or possession of alcohol, but we also have kids that are here because they have committed violent offenses.

What happens when the kids do not follow the rules? They receive write ups, and this keeps them from moving up on our level system, which is how the kids earn more privileges. We have rules separated into Minor(Class C), Intermediate(Class B) and Major rules(Class A). The Class C rules include not folding your bedding and talking in the hallway. Intermediate rules include disrespect for staff or other juveniles and using profanity. Major rules include fighting and interfering with a head count.

What is the day like for the kids? They get up on a schedule that depends on their level status: If they have been here a while without any behavior problems, then they are allowed to sleep a little bit later. Otherwise, we start getting them up at about 5:00 or 5:30. They clean their area, then eat and go to school. We have three school rooms here so that the juveniles do not have to go to any outside school. They also have an hour of gym during the school day and a short lunch break. After school, which ends about 2:15, they are given at least one hour of leisure time in community dayrooms. They can earn more time depending on their level. We have four levels on the level system, 1,2,3,4. It takes 4 weeks to get to level 4, and they get more freedom as they move up. The juveniles are back in their cells for dinner, but usually come out after dinner for programs and visitation, which occurs Wednesday and Sunday, for an hour each time.

How many juveniles are in each cell? The cells are only big enough for one juvenile, but when our population reaches 77, we will start using our dorm room, which will house 14 juveniles.

Do they have to go to school while they are in there? YES! We have three classrooms that operate on a year-round basis. For example, the kids will have the day off on Christmas Day, July 4, New Years, President’s Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day, but they do not get long Spring or Christmas breaks like in a regular school. They also attend school throughout the summer. School is important to us.

What happens when you have a fight? Our staff is trained in an state-wide approved method of restraint to be able to stop the fight, then the juveniles are separated and will be charged with a Major(Class A) rule violation, and also will probably be charged with Assault or Battery by the police.

Who puts kids in Detention? Well, the logical answer to that question is that Police Officers, Judges and in some cases Probation Officers have the authority to place kids in detention. BUT, the real answer is that the kids themselves choose to come into detention through their actions and behavior. When a person commits a crime, they have to realize that one of the consequences of that crime may include detention. For example, if you choose to steal, you have also made the choice to visit detention. Kids in detention cannot blame others for what happens as a result of their crime. That is a simple principle that applies everywhere. Even kids outside of detention cannot blame others for the results of any other action. For example, don’t blame the teacher if you do not study and end up earning an “F” in class. EVERYONE MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS!


The Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center is a 90-bed juvenile detention center located in Caldwell, Idaho, about 30 miles west of Boise. The center opened with 20 beds on March 2, 1992, with Robert L. Bigelow as Director, Dan Kessler as Trial Court Administrator and Judge Jim. R. Doolittle as Administrative Judge. On March 1, 1993, Steven G. Jett took over as Director.

The center houses juveniles from five of the southwest Idaho counties that make up the Third Judicial District external, specifically, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington.

On May 26, 1998, Canyon County voters approved a $3.7 million dollar expansion project which increased the number of beds to 90 to better serve the district. Construction started in May, 1999, ran past the original deadline of March/April of 2000, and was ‘completed’ in September, 2000.

In October 1994, the center instituted a level system to help teach accountability and responsibility to those in custody. The result has been a marked decrease in violent incidents and disciplinary lockdowns, and an increase in the morale of the juveniles and staff.

In December, 1999, our “writer in residence” program started, with writer Dawn Ludwin instructing. The classes are held twice each week in conjunction with our regular school hours. Feedback has been very positive. We appreciate the help that we receive from the Log Cabin Literary Center. In September 2004, Paul Berg took over instructing the program.  Malia Collins now directs the program.  Once per year, we publish an anthology of the writings of the juveniles.  Please contact the Director if you would like a copy at sjett@canyoncounty.id.gov.

On November 22, 2000, the graduation ceremony was held for the first Juvenile Detention Officer Training Academy, held at the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Center (P.O.S.T.) external at Meridian, Idaho. Special thanks to Roch Clapp of the Department of Juvenile Corrections, Mike Becar and Debbie Kindelberger of P.O.S.T. and the Idaho Juvenile Training Council chaired by Commissioner V. Hoybjerg for their hard work and efforts in setting up the academy.

InstructorsPictured are 4 of SWIJDC’s first P.O.S.T. Instructors, Mike Geselle, Chelle Mills, Shawn Anderson and Steve Jett. We now have approximately 6-7 P.O.S.T. certified instructors.




Glen Diers AwardIn December, 2000, Supervisor Tim Aguirre started the “Hat Project” in the Center. Working one on one with the juveniles, he and his team used a simple pattern and started cranking out hats to donate to local hospital maternity units for the newborns to wear. On March 23, 2001, we were able to donate approximately 50 hats to the Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, Idaho. For a look at the article that appeared in the Idaho Statesman on March 24, 2001, click the Old Projects. Due to several issues, the Hat Project isn’t running at the present time.

In April, 2002, the Scroll Saw Project was started by Glen Diers and Marilee Davis. Please check out the pictures of the project. The Project was featured in the September 10, 2002 Idaho Press Tribune for donating numerous articles to the Caldwell School District and the Idaho Juvenile Justice Association. For a look at the article, please click the Old Projects. Glen transferred to Oklahoma in 2004, and the Scroll Saw Project hasn’t been in operation since that time.

On September 24, 2003 Glen was chosen as the Idaho Juvenile Justice Association’s District 3 Line Worker of the Year. Glen was presented his plaque by Julie Yamamoto, Caldwell Alternative School Principal, and Steve Jett.

Mattehorn Event PictureMatterhorn Event Picture 2On December 19, 2003, the juveniles were given Christmas treats donated by the Matterhorn Ice Cream Company. We appreciate their generosity. The kids sure enjoyed the “Big Ed’s Super Saucers”!


Erickson SpeakingOn December 19, 2003, Albert Erickson, now Chief of Police for Parma, Idaho, spoke to the juveniles about his experiences in Kuwait. Albert had recently returned from Kuwait where he served as Operations Superintendent at Al-Jaber Air Base.



On February 8, 2004, the Idaho Press Tribune ran a story on the Center’s Education program. To see article, click here pdf.

In June, 2004, Taga Bah, certified through the Cooper Institute, was appointed to lead the Phys Ed program in the Center. The SWIJDC has instituted physical requirements for any staff hired after May, 2005 with Taga’s help.

On March 27, 2005, it was announced by the Idaho Press Tribune that a juvenile in the center had won the Silver Quill Award for a letter he wrote praising the Center’s juvenile detention officers and teachers. To see article, click here pdf.

Youth playing ChessThe best tools that we have for rehabilitation include mentoring and establishing good relationships with the juveniles committed to our custody.



CPR ClassCPR class July 29, 2004

Old Projects

Scroll Saw Project

Scroll Saw EventScroll Saw Project 2Scroll Saw Project 3




In April, 2002, under the creative genius and direction of Teacher Glenn Diers, the SWIJDC Scroll Saw Project was born.

Juveniles who have shown outstanding behavior and submit a signed permission slip are allowed to participate in the project. Glenn and Marilee Davis have loaned the Center scroll saws and have taught safety classes to the juveniles. The kids then can pick out a pattern or two and cut away.

We believe that the time that a juvenile spends in detention should be as productive as possible, helping to teach needed skills and competencies to make it as a productive citizen “on the outs.” The Scroll Saw Project helps.

Also, to teach some accountability and give something back to society, 25 puzzles are headed to a local first grade class, and more will be donated to the Idaho Juvenile Justice Association to be used as raffle prizes at their annual conference.

We hated to see Glen move down to Oklahoma, but we wish him well. The Scroll Saw Project is not running at this time.

Young Offenders Sew Baby Hats

Hat Pro ImageHat Pro Image 2





The following article appeared in the Idaho Statesman on Saturday, March 24, 2001.  Special thanks to the Idaho Statesman and reporter Lucinda Tyler and photographer Kim Hughes for coverage of this event.

Diane Markus, director of the OB/GYN Unit of Mercy Medical Center, right, holds up a hat presented by the Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center. Incarcerated juveniles made the hats. “It is a way to teach the kids that…they can give back to society,” said Tim Aguirre, detention center supervisor. Canyon County Commissioners Todd Lakey, center, and Matt Beebe, left, also attended the event.

Links to Related Contacts

All links below are external external


Idaho Procedures



U.S. Department of Justice Statistics

University Links

Law Links

State Links

Compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act

Agency Policy

In compliance with Section 115.322 of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards, Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center (SWIJDC) has provided policies to ensure referrals of allegations for investigations.  Those policies can be found by clicking here pdf.

Reporting Abuse

If you suspect sexual abuse has happened at the Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center, you may call the Director at the Center, at 454-7353, or you may call the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney or the Caldwell Police Department.  Please have any information or evidence available for the investigator who will be assigned to handle the case.  False accusations may be prosecuted.  All reports are taken seriously and investigated as outlined in PREA.

Data Review for Corrective Action and Publication

In compliance with Section 115.388 of the PREA Standards, SWIJDC has reviewed data collected and aggregated pursuant to section 115.387 in order to assess and improve the effectiveness of its sexual abuse prevention, detection, and response policies, practices, and training, including:

  1. Identifying problem areas;
  2. Taking corrective action on an ongoing basis; and
  3. Preparing an annual report of its findings and corrective actions.

Also, in compliance with Section 115.389 of the PREA Standards, SWIJDC shall make all aggregated sexual abuse data readily available to the public at least annually.  View the data: SSV for Year End.

The Director of the SWIJDC will issue an annual report regarding PREA: SWIJDC PREA Report.

Audit Report

Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center has been audited pursuant to Section 115.401 of the PREA Standards. To view the Press Release regarding the results, click here pdf.

To view the SWIJDC’s first Audit Final Report, click here pdf.

The second PREA Audit Report will be posted when available.

To view the SWIJDC’s third Audit Final Report, click here pdf.

To view the fourth PREA Audit Report, click here pdf.

What Parents Should Know

The 90 bed-Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center is an integral part of the Juvenile Justice System of Canyon County and the State of Idaho. Juvenile Detention is defined as the temporary and safe custody of juveniles who are accused of conduct subject to the jurisdiction of the court who require a restricted environment for their own or the community’s protection while pending legal action. The Center provides a range of helpful services which support the juvenile’s physical, emotional and social development, which may include education, recreation, counseling, nutrition, medical and health care services, reading, visitation, communication and continuous supervision.

National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

The Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center participates in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program.
To view the SWIJDC Wellness Policy, click here pdf.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Click here for the full statement.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement | Food and Nutrition Service  

What kinds of kids are in Juvenile Detention?

Only those juveniles that have been charged with or adjudicated of crimes may be housed in the Center. These crimes can range from failing to appear in court on minor offenses to murder, however, if a juvenile is charged with certain serious crimes and has reached 14 years of age, s/he may be automatically held in the adult jail. Juveniles under the age of ten are usually not held in the Center, and no one is held in the Center past his/her 18th birthday.

Detention Hearing

When a juvenile is taken into the Center, s/he will be taken to court on the next judicial day for a detention hearing. A parent or guardian MUST attend this detention hearing. Please check with the Juvenile Probation Department at 454-7330 to find out times and places for the detention hearing.


Visitation for Parents, Grandparents, and Guardians:

Monday-Friday: Skype and Phone visits.
2:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday: No Contact visits.
9:00 am to 8:00 pm

To set up visitation, please call 208-454-7240

If these times are impossible, contact the detention staff. You will be allowed to visit for one hour during each visitation period. Approved visitors include mother, father, and grandparents. Other visitors may be requested on an individual basis by submitting the appropriate form, available from detention staff. Visitation for non-custodial parents may be restricted if there is a valid court order restricting visitation for that parent. Because of space and time limitations, only two visitors per juvenile will be permitted to enter the Center at one time. If more than two approved visitors are present to visit a juvenile, detention staff will allow the visitation time to be split up to accommodate all approved visitors.

Approved Items

Items which may be brought into the Center for your son/daughter include the following, subject to search and review:

  • Religious books
  • Paperback books
  • Hair brush, small, one piece construction, no metal bristles, no detachable handles, no red or blue colors
  • Jigsaw puzzles, new, unopened
  • Shampoo or body wash, new, unopened clear liquid in clear container
  • Lip treatment, new unopened, in tube, must be packaged in unopened bubble on display card
  • Playing cards, new unopened

There may be a display showing examples of acceptable items at the Center during visitation times. For answers to specific questions, a Detention Center staff member may be reached at 454-7240. Except for schoolwork and prescription medication, no property will be accepted other than at scheduled visitation times.

Telephones and Mail

At admissions, juveniles are permitted to make telephone calls to notify parents of their status, and to arrange for their release if permitted by the court. After they are admitted, juveniles may make at least 2 telephone calls per week to parents or grandparents. Except for calls placed immediately following admission, calls must be collect calls. Incoming telephone calls for juveniles are not accepted. Juveniles are permitted to write and receive letters while in the detention Center. Incoming mail is screened for illegal material or contraband.

Mail to juveniles must have your return address and be addressed as follows:


Education Program

Juveniles will attend school while incarcerated in the Center. Schoolwork may be picked up from the juvenile’s regular school and delivered to the Center if the juvenile will be incarcerated for an extended period of time. If this is not possible, the Center’s teachers will assign a program to the juvenile.

Medical Care and Medications

The Center has a medical staff available to take care of emergency medical needs. If your child has a medical condition that we will need to know about, please, PLEASE CALL THE CENTER. If your child is taking prescription medication, please bring it as soon as possible to the Center in its original bottle with the prescription still attached. The medical staff must check out each prescription that is brought into the Center. Juveniles are generally not released to attend medical appointments outside of the center unless special circumstances exist. If you feel that you regular physician must see your child, you must contact our medical staff at 454-7275. You may not pick up your child for a medical appointment outside the Center unless a judge signs a written order allowing you to do so.

Level System

While in the Center, juveniles have the opportunity to advance in the “Level System,” and earn privileges and duties. As higher levels are earned through good behavior by the juvenile, later bedtimes, more phone calls and relaxed visitation restrictions may be allowed.

Transportation from the Center

If your child is to be moved to a state program, or to another jurisdiction, you will not be informed of the time or date of that transport for security reasons. In most cases, the juvenile will be given a chance to make phone calls as soon as s/he reaches their next destination to inform you that they have been moved.

Release from the Center

You will be required to pick up your son or daughter upon their release from the Center and to produce some form of picture identification. If you will not come to the Center when your son or daughter is being released, the Center staff must contact the Department of Health and Welfare and the local law enforcement agency to file child abandonment charges.

Charges for Detention

There is a possibility that you will be charged for your son or daughter’s time in detention. Idaho Code 20-524(2) allows for the court to set an amount that you will be responsible to pay in order to cover the costs of detaining your child.

Other Questions

If there are other questions that are still unanswered concerning the Detention Center, please call the staff at 454-7240.


222 N 12th Ave.
Caldwell, ID 83605


P 208-454-7240



Visitation will start on July 5th, 2021.
To set up visitation, please call 208-454-7240