Some Maryland critics would like the District of Columbia to close Oak Hill, its juvenile detention center in suburban Maryland. The Baltimore Sun says that after two decades of criticism, the capital’s government has agreed to the appointment of an independent arbiter with power over the fate of the 208-bed facility. If arbiter Grace M. Lopes agrees with city officials authorities will demolish the dilapidated facility and build a new one. If she agrees with concerned citizens or the attorneys involved in a court battle, the juvenile detention center could be shut down.
Washington, D.C. “needs to pack up and move their facility south,” said Ray Smallwood, head of the Maryland Volunteer Fire Department and president of the Civic Association of Maryland City, a neighborhood close to Oak Hill. “They have overstayed their welcome.” Oak Hill, on 888 acres near the National Security Agency, is a maximum-security detention center for offenders ages 14 to 21. U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, whose district includes Oak Hill, wants to close the center and turn over some of the land to the NSA for an energy co-generation facility.