Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Thompson calls out Whitmer administration, state’s approach after allegations of mistreatment at juvenile center
RELEASE|January 23, 2024

State Rep. Jamie Thompson today reacted to the latest embarrassing and concerning headline originating from Michigan’s failing juvenile care and detention system, putting blame on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and legislative Democrats for not doing enough to address clear problems.

A report from the Detroit Free Press disclosed that an employee placed by state officials to monitor operations at a Wayne County juvenile jail was arrested last week in an investigation stemming from a sexual assault of a 15-year-old inside the facility. As a result of those allegations, all state employees were removed from the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center.

“These particular employees were monitoring this facility because of a previous alleged sexual assault that took place at the facility, so these latest revelations are deeply troubling and would mark another awful moment in a clear pattern of failure at the state level,” said Thompson, who serves on the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee as well as the House Health Policy Committee and the House Health Policy Subcommittee on Behavioral Health. “Keeping children in Wayne County and across Michigan safe is my top focus in committees that I serve on, and the state has consistently fallen short with their responsibility to protect kids in their care. Worse, there has been no clear path towards fixing it. We are seeing a frustrating and heartbreaking level of ineptitude.

“How many more kids and families have to be traumatically failed for Lansing and this administration to prioritize cleaning up this mess?”

Thompson has been a consistent advocate for protecting children during the 2023-24 legislative term. After meeting with victims and impacted families in July, Thompson signed onto a letter to the OAG requesting a performance review of the Hawthorn Center in Northville Township to further examine patient care and opinions of staff about patient treatment, the effectiveness of patient treatment complaints, clinical decisions, reporting, and more.

The OAG recently announced it will investigate the Office of Recipient Rights for how it handles allegations at the facility, as well as other state-run psychiatric hospitals, as part of its 2024 audit cycle.

“I will not stop fighting for the well-being of our kids,” Thompson said. “Young people being housed in these facilities have names, families and futures, and the level of hurt these failures are responsible for is profound. There is no excuse for the mistreatment many have faced, and there should be bipartisan support in bringing this issue to the forefront where it belongs. We need transparency and accountability.

“The governor frequently likes to assert that she’s fighting like hell for people. I’d like to see her fight like hell for a better juvenile welfare system.”

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