Juvenile department report

Dramatic decreases. That’s the visual that pops out the brightest when looking at the Grays Harbor County Juvenile Department annual report for 2021.

The report, which was compiled and prepared by Administrative Secretary Debbie Dey as well as Detention Officer Jackie Ficele, consists of statistics maintained and collected by the Grays Harbor County Juvenile Department and the Washington Administrative Office of the Courts. The report covers referrals from not only Grays Harbor County but also Pacific County and the Quinault Indian Nation given that they provide funding to the Juvenile Department.

While every documented category was substantially less than in previous years, the areas that stood out the most in this year’s records, statistical-wise, were overall referrals, felony referrals and burglary referrals. 281 total referrals were made to the Juvenile Department in 2021, a 42 percent decrease from the 484 referrals filed the year prior. It is also 58 percent lower than the previous five-year average of 676 referrals. 47 felony referrals in 2021 were documented compared to the 96 recorded in 2020 and burglary referrals dropped from 13 in 2020 to zero in 2021.

While it is uncertain how the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in determining how referrals were made and processed, the department noted that the phasing out process of the truancy program for the 2019/2020 school year, as well as the At-Risk program not accepting petitions as of Sept. 2019, are factors for why the numbers are statistically lower.

Of the 281 referrals made in 2021, nearly half of them came from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families — a total of 133. Aberdeen Police Department registered 42 referrals over the course of 2021, the highest amount of any law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in Grays Harbor County.

The report also shows that a total of 60 minors, which consisted of 41 males and 19 females, were detained on 68 detention referrals in 2021. Forty-seven of them were male referrals while the other 21 were female. The Daily World requested clarification if there is a trend of males being in the juvenile system, on a broad scale, but was unable to receive feedback at the time of press.