Md. Agrees To Upgrade New Juvenile Detention Unit

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The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services has agreed to improvements at its new juvenile detention center, the Washington Post reports. That ends for now a legal challenge in which state Public Defender Nancy Forster described conditions there as “unsafe and inhumane.” Forster said the department agreed to add security equipment at the troubled Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, provide special education services, and make “repairs and structural improvements.” The state agreed to hire, within three months, staff sufficient for the pretrial facility’s maximum capacity of 144 boys. In return, Forster agreed not to pursue a claim she had filed on behalf of 67 “John Doe” residents. Forster jad asked a judge to either order immediate improvements or remove her clients housed at the center. She cited systemic violence and allegations that workers have induced young residents to fight one another.

The agreement, like the petition and other juvenile court records, is confidential. A spokeswoman for the department, LaWanda Edwards, said: “It was real easy for us to agree to these terms. It’s things that we were, are, will be doing. Staffing has improved tremendously and we are making repairs.” The $60 million center opened Oct. 30 after more than a decade of planning and construction. It was intended to provide space for boys, mostly 14 to 17, awaiting trial on offenses that typically include auto theft, simple assault, and drug possession.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31508-2004Oct14.html

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