Mary Previte, the longtime administrator of the Camden County, N.J., juvenile detention center, personally ordered a roundup of youths under her office’s supervision – but who had done nothing wrong – to boost her budget, says a court transcript obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Federal and state authorities are investigating whether actions taken at her direction were illegal. The case focuses on 14 teens wearing electronic monitoring anklets who were taken to the center last October before a census was conducted to determine educational funding for New Jersey’s youth detention centers.
Officials have said it would be a violation of civil rights if the youths – each worth $4,500 in state Department of Education funding, or $63,000 total – were detained inappropriately. Camden County spokesman Ken Shuttleworth said: “We strongly believe that the current method of determining education funding based upon a facility’s population on one day of the year is completely arbitrary and inaccurately reflects the true needs of children being served.”