Youth inmates take over pod at juvenile facility in Cabarrus County

Officials are investigating two incidents this week at a juvenile facility in Cabarrus County. Both happened at the Cabarrus Youth Development and Detention Center.

It started with an incident Sunday evening. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, a group of youth inmates in one of the units refused to go back to their rooms as instructed by staff members. Staff were able to deescalate the situation, NCDPS said.

But on Monday night, NCDPS said an inmate assaulted a staff member who was opening a door to provide personal hygiene items. The juvenile overpowered the staff member, taking their keys and opening doors to let several kids out of their rooms, investigators said.

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Together, the group of inmates vandalized several items in the housing unit. The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office said the five inmates armed themselves with broken items and a pair of shackles and took over a pod.

The staff member was able to get to another part of the housing unit in the meantime.

The sheriff’s office and Concord police were called in to help with the riot situation, which lasted about 35 to 40 minutes. NCDPS said the facility director and several staff members were able to deescalate the situation and convince the juveniles to return to their rooms.

The youth who assaulted the staff member had minor injuries during the response to the incident, NCDPS said. The staff member was uninjured.

The facility was never locked down, NCDPS said. It was operating normally by Tuesday.

Just last Thursday, a staff member at the Youth Development Center was charged with assaulting a juvenile there.

READ MORE: Correctional worker accused of strangling juvenile at local facility

And last month, a federal lawsuit accused the center of holding children in small cells for 23 hours a day or more for weeks, or even months, without any valid reason. It’s an issue Channel 9 has been investigating for weeks.

Last month, Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz sat down Deputy Secretary William Lassiter, who oversees the state’s juvenile justice system. He said staffing in these facilities is a major issue.

“We have almost a 50% vacancy rate in the juvenile justice system,” Lassiter said.

He said overcrowding is another issue at youth detention centers.

“Overcrowding has also led to more of our staff leaving because it feels overwhelming to work in a facility where you got kids sleeping on the dayroom floor instead of in a room where they should be,” he said.

(WATCH BELOW: Cabarrus County School Board approves changes to district boundaries)