WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – In his annual State of the County address, Warren Evans detailed the past year’s successes and one of the largest headaches his administration is dealing with: consistent problems at the county’s juvenile detention facility.
The problems have been going on for months and continue to spiral. Last week the Michigan State Police was brought in to investigate an alleged rape of a 12-year-old boy in custody.
“Extraordinary action has become necessary,” said Evans. “I’m calling for a public health state of emergency.”
Essentially it sets up an incident command type of structure to deal with the problems.
Evans has already made staff changes, but this has been ongoing. There are not enough staff and too many kids, and whistleblowers have described poor procedures in place.
“This facility was once the gold standard, and now it is overcrowded by forces beyond our control,” Evans said.
There are simply not enough treatment beds statewide for juvenile offenders, meaning they languish in facilities like the JDF for hundreds of days in some cases.
Their parents don’t want them either and often will not bring them home, even if it’s an option.
The whole issue was up for discussion in Lansing on Wednesday, March 22, in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee.