The head of the Philly prison guards union says one of his members was attacked by a juvenile in custody this week, and that youth detention counselors are not sufficiently protected from some inmates.
Anthony Table, a youth detention counselor at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center in West Philly, sustained a broken nose and a concussion after being attacked on Tuesday by a 17-year-old, said Lorenzo North, president of Local 159.
The teenager was not identified. The spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, which oversees these centers, did not respond to a request for comments about the incident.
But North said Table was attacked around 2:30 p.m. while inside the teen’s cell, and hit his face on the toilet.
“We do get a lot of staff assaulted by juveniles,” North said. “They treat these kids like they’re sweet and innocent, but they would hurt you in a minute. They’re adults.”
North said guards aren’t allowed to use certain levels of force with juvenile inmates.
“Ifyou try to defend yourself,the counselor might get in trouble,according to the laws. It’s ridiculous,” North said. “At some point in time, the state of Pennsylvania has got to realize that and change the laws.”
Table was released from the hospital on Tuesday but will miss work for a few days, North said.
“Just like correctional officers, youth detention counselors work around the most dangerous juvenile inmates in the city,” he said. “It’s time that they be treated as dangerous criminals.”