Michigan juvenile jail over capacity as county declares emergency amid sexual assault reports

Overcrowding at a Wayne County juvenile detention facility in Michigan has caused county officials to declare a state of emergency at the facility, just a week after reports of a sexual assault at the county’s overflow location, a vacant adult jail.

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.

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.”

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A statewide shortage has ballooned wait times for youth placements, increasing by over six times the typical average of three weeks.

“The average stay has ballooned from 21 days to 127 days,” the press release said.

“One child languished in the facility for over 800 days awaiting a placement. The overcrowding has created a staffing crisis in the facility,” it added.

An investigation by the Detroit outlet has found a series of issues at the facility, such as youth being locked in rooms for extended periods of time and being denied daily showers along with recreation time, medication, and schooling.

The William Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck, Michigan, is actually a vacant adult jail that was built in 1981, with a capacity over 850.

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.

As well, county officials boasted a surplus of $233 million.

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