Overcrowding woes plague Detroit-area lockup for kids


DETROIT (AP) — Officials declared a public health emergency at an overcrowded Detroit-area jail for kids, a step that could lead to improved staffing and more services.

“The situation has become untenable for nearly 140 youths that are currently residing there. Extraordinary action has become necessary,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said during a speech Tuesday night.

Evans has been pleading with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to help solve the problem. A statewide shortage of residential facilities means kids who have already appeared in court remain stuck in the county juvenile lockup.

Separately, lawmakers in Lansing were holding a hearing on the issue Wednesday.

“Concurrently, the average stay has ballooned from 21 days to 127 days,” the county said in a statement. “One child languished in the facility for over 800 days awaiting a placement. The overcrowding has created a staffing crisis in the facility.”

Police are investigating allegations that a 12-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by other youths. He was released to his family last week, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The state has said it is adding beds at state-run sites in northern Michigan and setting aside $3 million for a contractor to add beds in Highland Park, the newspaper reported.

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