Staffing Shortages at Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Leads to Riot, $20,000 in Damages

The $20,000 riot at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center was a direct result of short staffing, The Plain Dealer reported, citing juvenile court records. 

The Plain Dealer reports:

“The low-staffing levels resulted in corrections officers locking 30 inmates in that part of the detention center in their cells for long periods. Those inmates, because of short staffing, missed recreation time on the day of the riot, according to the records released by Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, which runs the detention center.

“The detainees who started the riot cited the lockdowns as the reason they trashed their cells and common area, according to the records. Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said the three-hour riot caused an estimated $20,000 in damages, not including the cost of cleaning or replacing the carpet.”

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Riot a Direct Result of Ignoring Detention Officers 

It’s not surprising. We’ve been trying to warn court officials of the dangerous consequences of low staffing for years. 

“We have staff telling us all they see all the red flags and that something bad was going to happen,” Colin Sikon, a union representative for Laborers Local 860, told The Plain Dealer. “We brought those concerns to the court about staffing, even prior to COVID, and the court chose not to listen to its workers.”

The center has about 50 detention front line officers, down from about 80 two years ago, Sikon said. That number does not include supervisors.

Low staffing forces youth residents to eat meals and do school work in their cells. It also restricts recreation time that can be helpful in letting off steam, he said.

All that pent up energy can lead to violence that’s dangerous to residents and staff alike. During the riot, one young resident wrapped bedsheets around his neck and the ceiling before unwrapping them and jumping down to safety, The Plain Dealer reported.

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Our kids deserve to be safe. Lockdowns brew dangerous environments. They impact the mental health of children and limit access to school and exercise programs.

Sign the petition found at the bottom of our homepage. Tell the Court it needs better staffing and employee training to keep our children safe.