Doreen Zalewski hoped her 15-year-old son’s stay in the Macomb County, Mi., youth home would straighten out the unruly teen, forcing him to face the sobering reality of life inside the criminal justice system, says the Macomb Daily. Instead, he emerged boasting of his leisurely time in detention, where he lounged in bed in pajamas and often watched TV. Zalewski, who will be billed $155 per day for the teen’s nearly a month in the Juvenile Justice Center, says that she is paying for a very expensive, ineffective “time out.”
The county’s $155 daily fee is more than Zalewski earns per day at her job, and the total cost of her son’s October stay will exceed $4,000. Her son, who was detained for a probation violation related to a previous drug-use charge, spent most of his time in his pajamas and confined to one unit of the building. It was a punishment for disruptive or assaultive behavior, which kept him from attending school in the facility but apparently didn’t prevent him from watching movies on DVD. County officials say youths who misbehave in the center are removed from the general population to prevent disruptions in day-to-day operations. County Finance Director Dave Diegel said the user fee has not been increased for several years while the actual cost per-youth of running the facility has risen to $270 to $300 a day.