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Group urges more to fix crisis at Detroit Juvenile Center

Razor wire is seen on the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.
David McNew
Getty Images

Advocates for incarcerated minors say the crisis at Wayne County's Juvenile Detention Center needs urgent action.

The Detroit Free Press reports many young offenders have spent several days in a row locked in their cells, without showers or exercise.

That's because there's not enough staff to supervise them.

Jason Smith heads the Michigan Center for Youth Justice.

He says the detention center found alternatives to locking kids up early in the pandemic, such as home confinement.

"Placement of youth in secure detention should be limited to young people who are an immediate and significant safety risk either to themselves or others.  Beyond that, they should not be in detention." said Smith.

Wayne County says it plans to transfer some of the juveniles to an empty adult facility.

State officials say more funding is on the way to boost staffing levels.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.