There’s a serious problem with overcrowding at a juvenile detention facility that is located in Wayne County, Michigan, which has caused local officials to declare a state of emergency a week after reports of sexual assault at the overflow location, a vacant adult jail, have emerged. What a mess. It’s sickening to hear that this kind of thing has happened, and more than a little disturbing that so many young people are committing crimes.
“The Detroit Free Press reported multiple ongoing issues with the facilities, causing Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to declare a health emergency at the overcrowded and understaffed location,” TheBlaze is reporting. “A recent news release stated that while the average number of juveniles at the William Dickerson Detention Facility is typically 68, with a capacity of 80, there were 137 juveniles in the building at the time.”
“A week prior to the emergency declaration, reports surfaced of a sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy allegedly by other juveniles. Officials called that type of incident ‘extremely rare,'” the report added.
A shortage that has spread across the entire state of Michigan has caused wait times to increase for youth placements, lengthening them to over six times the usual average of three weeks. That’s huge.
“The average stay has ballooned from 21 days to 127 days,” the press release read. “One child languished in the facility for over 800 days awaiting a placement. The overcrowding has created a staffing crisis in the facility.”
An investigation that was conducted by the Detroit based outlet discovered that a series of issues at the facility, such as young people being locked inside rooms for long, extended periods and not being given permission to shower or have recreation time, medication, and even education.
“The William Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck, Michigan, is actually a vacant adult jail that was built in 1981, with a capacity over 850,” TheBlaze report said. “Government officials will attempt to pour money on the issue to remedy the housing problems, including $3 million in ‘start-up funds’ to open 40 additional beds in a Detroit, Michigan, facility. The county will also be launching new public health initiatives using $60 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.”
Along with that, county officials have boasted they have a surplus of $233 million.
Look, these are just kids. Yes, they have broken the law and have most definitely earned time in jail. However, most of these young people don’t have good home lives or people who care about them investing time and effort into raising them with solid values and principles. There’s no structure at home, so they go seeking it in other places. Bad places. And this happens.
Given that these are children who have made mistakes, they should not be treated like hardened criminals. Not unless the crime they are guilty of fits that description. As such, they need to be given recreation time and their medication. That’s a no-brainer. The fact this has been allowed to go on is appalling. Time for someone to come along and get this mess cleaned up.
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