Wayne County CEO calls for a Public Health State of Emergency at Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility
At his State of the County address this evening, Wayne County CEO Warren C. Evans called for a Public Health State of Emergency at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility.
“The situation has become untenable for nearly 140 youths that are currently residing there. Extraordinary action has become necessary. Which is why, today, I am calling for a public health state of emergency,” said County Executive Warren C. Evans.
Crains Detroit Business reports Evans and county Health Officer Abdul El-Sayed signed the order earlier yesterday.
“This order, under the powers of the County’s health officer, will allow us to establish an incident command structure reporting directly to me, which will expedite action to adequately staff and provide therapeutic services in the facility. But in the end, the most important action needed to address this situation is for the state to provide long-term residential beds. We will continue to explore every effort to work with them to expedite that solution. As our partnership with the state progresses, our hope is that we’ll be able to rely on them to do their part and get children out of our facility and into the long-term placements they deserve.”
The public health state of emergency comes after months of overcrowding in the facility, driven largely by the dwindling number of long-term stay beds made available by the state for post-adjudicated youths. The number of residents in the JDF facility nearly doubled between 2021 and 2022. In 2021, the average number of juveniles in the facility was 68. There are 137 in the facility today. Concurrently, the average stay has ballooned from 21 days to 127 days. One child languished in the facility for over 800 days awaiting a placement. The overcrowding has created a staffing crisis in the facility.
Under the Public Health Emergency, the County hopes to expedite staffing and therapeutic services to increase safety and security, and to facilitate efforts to partner with 3rd District Court and the state to find solutions to overcrowding created by the state’s long-term bed shortage.