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Overcrowding in NC juvenile justice system has children sleeping on floors

File: Child sleeping on the floor.
baronsquirrel on Flickr
Via Creative Commons
File: Child sleeping on the floor.

Dozens of children who have entered North Carolina's juvenile justice system are sleeping on the floors of state facilities due to overcrowding.

In this week's meeting of the state's Task Force for Safer Schools, William Lassiter of the state Department of Public Safety said juvenile justice facilities have been over capacity since January... and now don't have beds for nearly 80 kids.

Lassiter said the state needs more funding for positions like youth counselors to keep children from ending up in juvenile justice facilities.

“Through Medicaid expansion, that's through higher salaries for employees, that's for more resources in our communities to address this population,” he said, “As a task force, I hope we can come together and really think through what are some of the solutions to make this not become a trend line?”

Lassiter said the juvenile justice division is also severely short staffed, including for youth counselors.

“That's our baseline person that works in a facility in juvenile justice,” he said, “We're up near 70 percent vacancy rates in those areas. It makes it extremely difficult to change a child's life if you don't have the people there to change that child's life.”

The juvenile justice division of the Department of Public Safety has a staff vacancy rate of nearly 40 percent.