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Wayne County juvenile detention facility at dangerous breaking point, county officials say

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The situation at Wayne County’s juvenile detention facility has reached a breaking point, according to county officials.

The detention center has become overcrowded, with some juveniles locked up for months in a facility that’s not meant to house people long-term. County officials say part of the issue is a shortage of residential treatment center beds for juveniles across the state.

Understaffing is exacerbating the problem. The facility has lost a number of staff during the pandemic, creating what some workers call a dangerous situation for inmates and staff. In May, some of the juvenile inmates broke out of their locked pods, causing staff to retreat and resulting in at least one person being injured.

Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch said the county needs to act urgently.

“You have judges and employees who've been working over there for a long time, and it's time for us to actually give them some relief,” Kinloch said. “Right now, you have it reaching a point where the decisions have to be made to really rectify those longstanding problems.”

Kinloch said plans to deal with the situation could be forthcoming from Wayne County Executive Warren Evans’ office and the Third Circuit Court as soon as next week. County officials have not released any details about what steps they might take.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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