The city of Philadelphia has taken action against the state of Pennsylvania, suing them for negligence in their Department of Human Services.
According to the Philadelphia Inquier, sources say the Department of Human Services have over 70 children who are currently being held in a juvenile justice facility while awaiting transfers to the designated rehabilitation/ detention centers.
Since the 2020 pandemic, the number of staff members for these detention centers have drastically decreased, leaving one staff member responsible for up to 20 children. There have been a number of incidents which left staff members seriously injured as they have been unable to control such crowds. Undermanned and outnumbered, it is near impossible to keep an eye on so many children, in which restricts the movements of youth throughout the facility for simple asks such as getting food.
According to 6abc, Employees spoke before city council about an incident that took place October 4th in which staff was outnumbered by students and overpowered, leaving dozens of staff hurt and one child severely injured. “We are working in violent conditions” says Ebony Richards, a worker at the center. “Someone is going to end up dying in that facility”
Philadelphia’s juvenile facility is designed to temporarily hold 184 children ages 10-17 who are awaiting court proceedings. That number has grown to over 220 children— 74 of which whom have gone through court proceedings and are awaiting transfer. Leaving hundreds of children to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Before this overpopulation, the normal wait time for transfer would be at most 3 weeks after initial sentencing. As of today, children are being held for four to five months before being transferred, in some cases even longer.
The lawsuit has been in the making for years as Philadelphia has been trying to get state officials to recognize the crisis at hand. “As months passed, unfortunately no meaningful action was taken was taken on their part” says Vanessa Garrett Harley, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for the office of children and families. “Just empty promises were made”.