HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - Construction on Houston County's new Juvenile Courtroom and Court Services facility is complete, and both buildings are set to open soon.
Both will be housed in the basement of the Houston County Courthouse. Right now, the Court Services office is located on Foster Street. The Chief Juvenile Probation Officer says this location doesn't provide the confidentiality the new space will.
"We have big windows out there and people can be nosy," said Jeff Ozbun. "Here, it's much more confidential and that's the number one goal of the juvenile court services."
Juvenile Court proceedings in Alabama are supposed to be confidential, but in Houston County they typically happen on the 3rd floor of the courthouse, and there's no confidential waiting area.
"With all the other things that go on in the courthouse – it's a very busy courthouse – it's just not a good place for the confidential factor," said Lori Ingram, Houston County District Judge.
In addition to providing more confidentiality for the juveniles, it will also add more security for people who work in court services.
"In the courthouse we have the deputies and the metal detectors. There we have no security. Anyone could walk up off the street and come in," said Ozbun.
Ozbun says Court Services averages 50 to 60 petitions a month and around 1,200 move through the court system a year, so the new facility also provides more functional space to operate.
The official move is set for June 5 and they expect to be fully operational by June 6.
During the move, the Juvenile Services phone line will still be available in case of an emergency.