Five years after Detroit’s Wayne County became Michigan’s first county to hire private companies to care for delinquent youths, its juvenile justice system is awash in accusations of financial mismanagement, cronyism, and fraud, the Detroit News reports. Taxpayers have footed the bill for improper billings and overpayments to contractors; relatives of elected county officials have benefited from some contracts; there are multiple allegations the county paid for hundreds of fictitious youths.
Two former high-ranking county officials allege that they lost their jobs after serving as informants for the FBI. Chief Circuit Judge Mary Beth Kelly, who has oversight of the system, vows major reforms by year’s end. The News said county taxpayers have paid more than $2 million for contracts that have benefited relatives of Sheriff Warren Evans and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Also, hackers compromised a $2.5 million computer program that records personal information about teens and is used for billing, prompting an investigation into whether taxpayers spent money on fictitious teens. There are allegations the county paid contractors at least $198,000 for youths who don’t exist.