Maryland and the U.S. Justice Department have reached agreement to improve conditions at the troubled Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, says the Baltimore Sun. Justice sharply criticized the center’s management and staffing in a recent review. The agreement requires changes including improved mental health and educational services and behavior management. The children’s units will be made “suicide-proof.” Accessible railings on the second floor will be enclosed with Plexiglas.
The staff will also reduce the amount of seclusion for juveniles at the center. The Justice Department had criticized the staff for not more closely monitoring those held in seclusion or on suicide watches. State monitors and federal authorities have issued damning reports over the years about conditions inside Maryland’s juvenile detention facilities, pointing to out-of-control violence, inadequate staffing, a lack of programs, and other problems. Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. promised to reform the juvenile system when he ran for office in 2002, but problems continued even though he closed some troubled residential treatment programs and downsized others.