Juvenile facilities improved: O'Malley
Maryland has made great strides to improve its troubled juvenile justice system, Gov. Martin O'Malley said Thursday as he announced the end of federal oversight at Baltimore's juvenile detention center.
The federal government notified the state late Wednesday that the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center was in full compliance with its monitoring requirements. The oversight itself will likely end in a few months, state officials said.
The Baltimore facility was one of three juvenile justice centers under federal monitoring. The other two — the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George's County and the Charles H. Hickey School in Baltimore County — exited in 2008.
“I think people agree, in an objective way, that these facilities have all greatly improved over the last four years to the point that we're now standing on our own two feet and moving forward together,” O'Malley said.
Yet problems have persisted at Cheltenham and Hickey since federal monitoring was lifted. In February, a Cheltenham staffer was found bludgeoned to death on the campus, and a then-13-year-old detainee has been charged as a juvenile in her death.
The state's juvenile justice monitor said this week that Cheltenham was “significantly overcrowded.”
Donald W. DeVore, secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services, said Thursday that the slaying of 65-year-old teacher Hannah Wheeling was “an aberration” and was not related to overcrowding because it happened outside a building. He said the overcrowding was temporary and had been addressed.
Officials said they have improved behavior management, suicide prevention and mental health services at the Baltimore detention center. Those were among dozens of areas identified as deficient by the federal monitor.
The improvements were not cheap: The annual operating budget for the Baltimore detention center has increased by nearly $1.5 million, or 8 percent, over the past four years. O'Malley said his administration has boosted funding for juvenile justice by 27 percent.
“Today, this facility is a much safer and a much more secure place for the staff and for the children that are here,” DeVore said.
-- Associated Press
Washington Post Editors
August 13, 2010; 7:41 AM ET
Categories: Juvenile Justice , Maryland , Prison Beat , Updates
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