CLAYTON, Mo. – Complaints about the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center have led to a demand for answers from county councilmen.
The county council was ready to officially begin an inquiry last week with a special meeting when the courts slowed things down over concerns of potential confidentiality breaches.
FOX 2 spoke with the parents of two different children, who say they speak on behalf of about a dozen families.
“I’m willing to fight for my son, for what’s right,” said the mother of a 17-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous.
The other parent, Michael Hicks, is the father of a 15-year-old in juvenile custody.
“My son? I’m 100% behind him while he’s there,” he said.
Both parents say their children are being mistreated inside the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center.
“My son has urinated in his room because they turn the buttons off or take too long for him to come use the bathroom,” Hicks said.
The mother added, “Our children are urinating and having bowel movements inside a container that they eat out of.”
The parents complained of a lack of staff and that the facility took away special visits.
The courts did not answer FOX 2’s inquiries over the allegations. An online search shows at least nine openings for positions at the juvenile detention center.
“We want answers. We want to find out if these allegations are true,” County Councilman Mark Harder said. “If they’re even partially true, it’s upsetting.”
Harder said the full council was prepared to begin investigating with a Sept. 4 special session when the courts cancelled it due to privacy concerns.
The 21st Judicial Circuit wrote FOX 2 on Monday, saying, “Juvenile records are generally closed records, meaning they cannot be shared or discussed outside of the proceedings.”
The courts and county council have agreed on a new meeting date, now set for Sept. 26 at noon, which will likely be mostly behind closed doors.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately, St. Louis County does not run the juvenile system. It’s a state-run program,” Harder said. “But I’m hoping to get some state legislators there at the meeting, so they can listen to these allegations and maybe get some reforms statewide.”
The concerned parents say they want their children to be productive citizens when they’re free.
“I want (my son) to be the best when he gets out,” Hicks said.