Of the nine out-of-state programs Maryland plans to use for its toughest juvenile offenders when it closes the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, only two are locked, highly secure facilities aimed at such youths – and one of them is already full for the next year, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services has said the programs in other states would temporarily provide a secure setting for hardened juvenile offenders until Maryland can develop such centers here. A key legislator and a juvenile judge were disturbed to learn that the department chose mostly programs with open campuses. Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen Cox said youths with extensive criminal histories often need to be held in highly secure facilities for their safety and to protect the public.m She said she would not be comfortable sending such youths to unlocked programs.
Delmas Wood, an assistant secretary of juvenile services, said officials believe that the programs can safely and successfully handle most Hickey youths without keeping them behind fences and locked doors. He said the unlocked programs are classified as “staff secure,” meaning they rely on staff to ensure residents don’t flee. The 144-bed secure program at Hickey is due to close next month. Hickey houses youths who have committed offenses such as attempted murder, carjacking, armed robbery, and assault.