The Macomb County, Mich., Juvenile Justice Center, already under scrutiny for alleged abuses against detainees, is the subject of a federal lawsuit charging civil rights violations and excessive force, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The suit filed this week charges that five staff members assaulted a teen during his 2001 stay at the facility, then known as the Macomb County Youth Home. Eric Seales was 15 when he was sent there after a confrontation with his mother. He charges that staffers punched him and slammed him against a wall, kept him in a restraint chair for four hours, choked him with a towel, and sought assault charges against him in retaliation when he told his mother of the alleged abuse. A jury acquitted him of those charges.
Macomb County Commissioner Phil DiMaria, chair of the county’s Justice and Public Safety Committee, said the suit is another sign of trouble. “It does reinforce my belief that we need to take a long, hard look at that facility — how it’s operated, who operates it, and their procedures, policies and hiring practices,” DiMaria said.
This year, a state investigation cited eight code violations at the center, including unsanitary conditions and aggressive physical contact between staffers and detainees. A child care worker was suspended recently while the county and state investigate an allegation he grabbed a 16-year-old by the throat and slammed him against a wall.