LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas will seek bids from the private sector to take over operations of seven juvenile detention centers in the state.
Hutchinson told reporters Monday that the Arkansas Department of Human Services recommends soliciting a private operator and that bids are likely to go out in December.
He directed the agency's Division of Youth Services to operate seven of the state's eight centers in January after lawmakers rejected a $160 million contract with an Indiana company.
Since then, three 16-year-olds escaped from a facility in Harrisburg in northeast Arkansas, and Hutchinson says all the centers will undergo an audit of their security.
All three teenagers were found, but DHS spokeswoman Brandi Hinkle says the facility's director was fired Aug. 4 due to his performance.