Almost half of the 560 positions at the Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center are vacant or inconsistently filled as the number of residents keeps rising, conditions that have become barriers to federally mandated reforms, reports the Chicago Tribune. Earl Dunlap, who was appointed transitional administrator by a federal judge in August, said, “It’s absolutely obscene, particularly when we are seeing a steady increase in the population at the facility.” Dunlap has been requesting since November that county officials post and fill vacant positions, but, “at every turn I have been prohibited from doing what I need to do, not based on a blatant, ‘You can’t do that,’ but, ‘Let me go back and think about it,’ and nobody ever comes up with anything. I call it the art of deflection.”
With insufficient staffing, employees sometimes find themselves alone in a unit. As a result, children are often confined to their rooms, let out only to shower. The shortages contributed to violent incidents, including a melee in February during a school program in the chapel. Dunlap ordered that residents be educated in their units instead of at the facility school.