Report: Systemic failures at Cheltenham
The slaying of a teacher at a Maryland juvenile detention center was the result of “multiple systemic security failures,” including outdated buildings and not enough security cameras and radios for staff, as well as a failure of the state agency overseeing the center to address safety issues, according to a report to be released Thursday.
Hannah Wheeling, 65, was found dead in February outside a cottage at the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George’s County. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and choked. A boy detained at the center, then 13 years old, is charged as a juvenile with homicide and attempted rape. His name is not being released because he is a juvenile.
“Hannah Wheeling’s death was a tragic event resulting from multiple systemic security failures at Cheltenham,” according to the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit report. “Some responsibility for her death must be placed on Cheltenham’s outdated buildings and a compromised security culture. Responsibility must also be placed on the departmental leadership that should have addressed these issues.”
The scathing 27-page special report cites confusing policies and protocols, scarcity of security equipment, staff shortages and fatigue among overworked staff as contributing to making Cheltenham “as a whole a dangerous environment” at the time of Wheeling’s death.
Donald DeVore, secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, emphasized in a written response to the report that the agency “reacted quickly to this terrible incident, thoroughly investigating and moving swiftly to take steps to help ensure that nothing like it occurs again.”
DeVore noted that the department fired two staff members, demoted a high-level administrator, suspended a supervisor, suspended a program manager and reprimanded direct care staff.
Read more at Crime Scene.
-- Associated Press
Washington Post editors
| October 7, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories: Crime and Public Safety, Maryland
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