After the deadly shooting at Oxford High School, many students threatened violence against the schools, prompting many Michigan juvenile detention centers to fill up.
The shortage of beds at juvenile centers has reached a critical stage forcing some to hold minors in county jails.
Not only are there beds, these facilities are lacking, but many are also dealing with staff shortages and other issues.
Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene said there aren’t enough places to hold juvenile offenders.
“This is an important public safety issue,” Reene said. “We simply didn’t have enough room for a bed. The situation got worse and worse for a number of years.”
A student was arrested after allegedly making threats at Ruth Fox Middle School in the North Branch. The 14-year-old girl must be held at the Tuscola County Jail for a short time while authorities try to find a place to put her.
“We had to look for available beds. And that’s a process that you have to go through. And that usually involves looking across the state,” Renee said.
The girl was sent to a facility in Eaton County. Many factors have contributed to this problem, Reene said.
The age increase law, which pushes offenders to the age that can automatically be charged as an adult from 17 to 18, is one of them.
“You need a lot of counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, staff of those particular facilities and then other staff,” says Renee.
More facilities for minors are needed to be set up and capable of providing treatment, Reene said.
“And if it’s not addressed, the treatment of minors won’t be done the way it has been in the past,” Renee said.