Juvenile Court

Detention Center


The doors open each half hour during visiting times. Because of security concerns, it is important that you arrive at the designated times. Failure to do so may result in your not being able to visit with your child. Please do not bring children under the age of 18 with you when you come. Because of safety and security provisions, parents arriving with underage children will not be allowed to visit.

Detention Center Mission

To provide safety and security within a caring and learning environment.

Juvenile Detention Philosophy

Juvenile Detention values its relationships with detainees and their families, as well as with Judiciary, service staff and internal and external professionals. Smooth coordination of services for detainees is important and requires good communication and cooperation between detention personnel, court staff and community partners. The use of volunteers is paramount in helping youth develop positive relationships with adults and provide productive linkages within the community. Detention staff believes respect and integrity for all parties is necessary in creating a positive working environment.

Detention Center History

In August of 1994, construction was completed on the 20th Judicial Circuit Court Juvenile Detention Center and Juvenile Court. Previously, the Detention Center (or Youth Home, as it was known) and the Court were located in separate facilities - the Youth Home about 3 miles north of Grand Haven and Juvenile Court in the Ottawa County Building in the heart of downtown Grand Haven, a small resort city of 20,000 on the Lake Michigan shore.

The original Youth Home, which was built in the early 1960's with a capacity of 12 juveniles, was renovated in the mid 1980's, at which time its capacity was increased to 16 beds. By 1989, the tremendous population growth experienced by Ottawa County (which continues unabated) was already straining the resources of both the Court and Youth Home. At that time, Court and Detention administrators contracted with a private consultant, Mike McMillen, to explore the options for expansion.

At the same time, the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department was looking to expand its overcrowded adult jail. After several failed attempts, construction of a new jail was finally approved in 1992, with construction slated to begin in 1993. With the new jail approved, and a large tract of previously undeveloped county-owned land chosen for its location, plans for the new Juvenile Detention Center and Court to be located at 12120 Fillmore Street in West Olive, Michigan quickly began to take shape.

Building design consideration included individualized pods, which includes five 8 person pods with individualized sleeping rooms for each resident. This design promotes optimal group work and enhances our peer based behavior management system called Guided Group Interaction. Technology was also crucial in the design to provide good surveillance as well as audio monitoring.

Although we are attached to the jail, we are completely sight and sound separated. This has been accomplished through policy, separate control of electronic doors between the jail and detention and a privacy fence along the perimeter of the juvenile security fence. We moved into the new facility in July of 1994.

Only a few years after moving into the new detention center, being over capacity was again an issue. Probation and Detention administrators implemented an early-release policy in 1998 and effectively headed off any serious problems.

In January 1998, Juvenile Court was moved from the Probate Court to the 20th Circuit Court. The Juvenile Detention Center is a working unit of the Juvenile Court. Chief Judge for the Circuit Court is Edward Post. Judge Mark Feyen, Probate Judge, is the presiding judge. The Circuit Court Administrator is Kevin Bowling. The Juvenile Court Director is Sandra K. Metcalf. Bob Alward is the Detention Center’s Superintendent. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent are administrative team members within the Juvenile Court.

Facility Description

The 20th Judicial Circuit Court Juvenile Detention Center provides secure detention for 40 male and female pre and post adjudicated residents (10-17 years of age). The single story facility occupies a building that includes the Probate Court, Juvenile Court, training facilities and Ottawa County Jail.

The Detention Center, located on a 600-plus acre county campus, is comprised of 5 individual 8 bed pods, each having its own living area for meals, study, television, and pod programming. In addition, there is a day room for recreational activities and a gymnasium for large muscle activities. All sleeping rooms have natural lighting, and the entire facility is air conditioned. A backup diesel generator provides electricity during power outages. Water is provided through the Grand Rapids Water Department. Water is tested monthly by the county health department. Sewage is handled by a sewage disposal plant managed by the county. A perimeter 15 foot chain link fenced-in area provides open air recreation for all residents. On the campus property, which borders a heavily-wooded county park, is a comprehensive initiatives course consisting of several low and high elements. This course is incorporated into the programming of the Court's treatment program. All pods can be viewed, and all doors within detention controlled from a central control center. In addition, the detention center houses administrative offices, 4 classrooms, intake area, medical office, locked medication room and visitor lobby. The facility is accessed from the court or directly from the outside of the building.

American Correctional Association Accredited

In 2001, the Ottawa County Detention Center became the only American Correctional Association accredited juvenile facility in Michigan. Subscribing to 446 standards that address every facet of detention assures good practices. These practices generally exceed state licensing requirements. Standards include annual inspections performed by a certified fire inspector, county environmental health inspector and a state licensing inspector. Monthly fire safety checks are completed by a trained administrative staff member. Weekly risk assessments and resident morale checks are made by the Assistant Superintendent. Checks of all fire exits and exit lights are made on every shift by facility staff.

Resident Services

The Jail and Detention Center are sight and sound separated, but share several services. The county contracts with a private vendor to provide food service for adult inmates and juvenile residents. Residents receive breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack. The kitchen is staffed in part by jail inmates. Juveniles do not take part in any meal preparation or service. Detention Center clothing and linens are laundered by jail inmates as well. Juveniles' personal clothing is laundered by Detention staff. In addition, medical services are provided by a contracted entity, Secure Care. They provide on site nurses who are available 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. weekdays, eight hours on Saturdays and on call after hours. Monday through Friday, an assigned nurse provides time for physicals, sick calls and TB tests. A medical doctor makes rounds one day per week or on an as needed basis.

Education is provided by the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (ISD). Residents are in school 8:25 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. weekdays, year-round. The curriculum is designed to improve individual resident competency as well as provide credit when residents return to their home school district. The ISD provides three certified teachers and two teacher assistants. They develop annual goals, new curriculum, and new strategies in working with our high risk population. Strong emphasis is on technology and art. Both areas provide ample time on computers and time to develop expression through art. Upgrades have included a distance learning center and wireless connection for hand held computers. In 1997, the facility's education program was named runner-up to the best special education program in the state among all programs, including all public schools.

Library services are available to all residents several times a week. The facility works with the Head Librarian of the Loutit Library in Grand Haven for assistance in selecting and purchasing library materials for residents. Residents may check out 2 library books at a time and hold them for up to two weeks.

As part of the Family Division's services, one eight bed pod is dedicated to substance abuse treatment (CFC). This program is contracted through Catholic Charities West Michigan's Crossroads Family Center. A master's level therapist is assigned 5 days per week to provide substance abuse assessment for all detention residents, as well as individual and group counseling and education for those residents assigned to the substance abuse program. Residents are court ordered into this program and may stay as long as two months but average 30 days. These youth are followed-up in the community with an aftercare worker provided by Crossroads Family Center.

Some youth are ordered into detention for a determinate sentence that can last upwards of 120 days, but the length of time varies. During this period, these residents meet weekly in group and individually with a licensed psychologist for review, goal setting, and working on issues such as anger, depression and reunification.

Visitation occurs nightly during weekdays, in the afternoon on weekends. Residents may receive visits from immediate family over 18 years of age, grand parents and other significant persons approved by the Assistant Superintendent. Residents may receive approved visitors as often as they like - no limit is placed on the number of visits.

Religious services are held each Sunday. Services are coordinated through the jail ministry. A weekly Christian service is available for all residents. Clergy may schedule time to visit residents as well. Barnabus Ministries, Urban Youth Ministries and Catholic Jail Ministries provide spiritual counseling and linkage back to the community. Clergy of all faiths are welcomed and can be consulted for program planning.

Volunteers are utilized in detention as well. Michigan State University Extension Services Journey Mentor Program provides mentors and pod visitors on a weekly basis. Their role is to provide visitation and adult contact, especially for those residents who do not have visits from family. Volunteer mentors begin or continue relationships that will follow residents back to their communities. Additionally, residents are offered a reading program, in which a volunteer provided through the MSU Extension reads short stories and poems to interested residents one night a week. Facility-trained representatives from the local animal shelter regularly bring dogs for the residents to pet and interact with, and a trainer from Paws With A Cause occasionally brings service dogs in for demonstration assemblies. Junior Achievement volunteers provide life and job skills training to all residents.

Mental health services are provided when needed. Community Mental Health Staff provide 24 hour suicide risk assessments on an on call basis. They also provide consultation on residents that score high on our MAYSI assessment for thought disturbance.

Detention employs a licensed psychologist to provide services to those residents experiencing depression, anxiety, and any other emotional problem deemed needing attention. The detention psychologist provides 12 hours of service per week in servicing these residents as well as determinate sentence residents.

Public health provides weekly learning components on youth health issues. Topics include STDs, smoking, reproductive health, socialization, dating and healthy eating. Trained staff meet with the residents and provide lecture, videos and group discussion.

Agreements are in place for services for residents that have been sexually abused. The Child Advocacy Center provides assessments, counseling, and participates in criminal investigations of alleged sexual abuse.

Behavior Program

Detention can be a difficult place to develop and maintain a peer based behavior management system. Detention is a place where the average stay is approximately 11 days. This seems too short of a period of time to establish a culture that lives the peer based behavior management system. However, the 20th Judicial Circuit Court has maintained one since the early 90's. The outcome is that there are few physical assaults and/or mechanical restraints. Residents participate in maintaining good behavior by using a system which is labeled guided group interaction, "GGI". With this system, residents can develop new skills and become leaders. The two level system gives residents the opportunity to gain more privileges by demonstrating leadership through leading their pod. In addition, GGI uses the four-quadrant, Dr. Ken Blanchard, situational leadership model to help staff understand at what level each pod is performing. With GGI staff can head off problems rather than react to problems. The proof of the program is in minimal assaultive behavior by residents on residents as well as marginal assaults on staff.

Pod Classification

Pods are classified based on gender, age, and court disposition. The drug treatment pod may be co-ed based on court orders for drug treatment. One pod is classified female and the other three pods are males: 12 years and younger, 14 years and younger, and 15 years and older. Due to limited beds and different variables, criteria provide structure on how to deviate from these set classifications.


Detention uses a state-of-the-art database system that is web-based and user friendly. So many times data systems are designed for Courts or detention centers. This one is designed for both. Therefore, it has all judicial information as well as detainee information. In addition, the system provides management for daily programming, medical services, and facility security. Finding information within the system is user easy, making it helpful for the management within the facility as well as other entities. The system provides e-mail alerts to our stakeholders within the courts system and those in related counties or agencies.

Staffing and Scheduling

The Detention Center staff is comprised of an Assistant Superintendent, a Training Coordinator, an Administrative Aide, 4 shift supervisors, 2 group leaders, 17 full time youth specialists, 9 part time benefited youth specialist, and 10 relief youth specialist. Three shifts per day are designed to overlap for formal information exchange between shifts. Meetings include teaching staff which is comprised of 3 full time certified teachers, 1 special education teacher, 2 teacher assistants and 1 teacher aide. Shift schedules are as follows:

    First Shift 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Teachers are scheduled 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
    Second Shift 2:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
    Third Shift 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Funding Sources

The Family Division (Juvenile Court) administers a number of programs that provide options for the disposition of juvenile cases, ranging from probation to institutionalization to various counseling programs. Neither the court, nor the county is mandated to make available any specific programs; however the Juvenile Code does state the law "...shall be liberally construed so that each juvenile coming within the court's jurisdiction receives the care, guidance and control, preferably in his or her own home, conducive to the juvenile's welfare and the best interest of the state." MCL 712A.1 (3).

In addition, MCL 400.23 requires the state to reimburse the county for 50% of expenses of providing certain juvenile services involving out of home placement or alternatives designed to prevent out of home placement. MCL 400.117 a (c) defines a juvenile justice service as including "intake, detention, detention alternatives, probation, foster care, diagnostic evaluation and treatment, shelter care, or any other service approved by the state DHS..." The portion of the costs of these services which is not covered by the state is paid for by the county. The relationship of the county and the state, and what programs the county will provide and what the state will pay for, is formally agreed to through the Child Care Fund Plan and Budget, which is annually approved by the Court and the Board of Commissioners.

Out-of County Services

The following services are available upon request:

  • Bed Rental contracts with other counties.
  • Psychological services are available for a fee to out-of-county residents in need of support services by our licensed psychologist. If residents are experiencing anxiety or depression, they can be seen on an individual basis to work on reduction of these symptoms.
  • Drug testing is performed upon the intake of out-of-county residents. A five panel drug screening for cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana and opiates can be arranged. Results will be communicated to the detainee's caseworker. A prerequisite would be a court order allowing us to check a resident's urine for drugs.
  • Substance abuse treatment is available in detention when court ordered through a contracted substance abuse therapist from Catholic Charities West Michigan for a fee. Detention residents and their families can be involved with addiction education as well as goal setting in an attempt to begin "kicking the habit."


Juvenile Court

  • 12120 Fillmore Street
    West Olive, MI 49460
  • Phone: (616) 786-4100
    FAX: (616) 786-4154
  • Hours of Operation
    Monday - Friday:
    8:00am - 5:00pm

Juvenile Detention Center

  • 12110 Fillmore Street
    West Olive, MI 49460
  • Phone: (616) 786-4130
    FAX: (616) 786-4157
  • Visiting Hours
    Monday - Friday:
    7:30pm - 8:30pm
    Saturday - Sunday:
    3:15pm - 4:15pm