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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 10/ 7/2010

Report: Systemic failures at Cheltenham

By Washington Post editors

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of a teacher at a Maryland juvenile detention center was the result of “multiple systemic security failures,” including outdated buildings and not enough security cameras and radios for staff, as well as a failure of the state agency overseeing the center to address safety issues,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 “Some responsibility for her death must be placed on Cheltenham’s outdated buildings and a compromised security culture.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

By Washington Post editors  | October 7, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Maryland  
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Donald W. DeVore wrote a critical letter to legislative leaders, senate president Mike Miller & house leader Michael Busch, in January of 2010 demanding that the Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit back off in their overzealous, inaccurate reporting of DJS facilities. The month following DeVore’s arrogant written appeal to the two top legislative leaders, the horrible tragedy at Cheltenham occurs. Had DJS officials heeded the JJMU’s findings, perhaps…………………………………...... But no, Donald W. Devore was too busy scoffing at the limited credentials of the JJMU staff. This attitude from a guy who was moonlighting as a federal monitor here in MD when he was supposed to be leading & reforming the state of Connecticut’s juvenile system. Before Connecticut could out him, he winds up here in MD & brings his lieutenants from this northern state along with him for the ride. Even with his head start & advanced knowledge of MD, based on his federal moonlighting here, Devore has not delivered the reform MD was promised .

The flagship program to lead MD’s efforts to replicate the successful regional “Missouri Model” approach, the Victor Cullen Center, has been a disaster. The guy Devore picked to direct the Cullen regional flagship program turned out to have a questionable past based on reports of abusive practice in a Montana military program for juvenile offenders. After some muddling remarks regarding the DJS vetting process, Devore’s choice to lead the statewide reform initiative in MD ended up under the bus even though Devore worked with him previously at VisionQuest, a private juvenile jail outfit. Then there was the riot at Cullen & staff injuries; escape cover-ups; escalating violence at BCJJC continuing even after his publicized “personal touch” mentoring at this Baltimore facility; sexual acting out at DJS youth camps cited in a federal report; it goes on and on and on and……………………………. Read the JJMU quarterly reports. Also, it was pointed out to me that Devore’s in-charge person at Cheltenham was heading up that troubled facility when the MD oversight monitors cited Cheltenham for falsifying staff training reports & logs in a 2007 JJMU report. Once again, had MD officials heeded the findings of the JJMU, perhaps ……………………….......

Posted by: gilspenser | October 7, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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