Violence Up In Baltimore Teen Detention “Monstrosity”


Violence behind bars at Baltimore’s juvenile detention center has increased sharply this year, a setback amid efforts to rein in the long-troubled facility, reports the Baltimore Sun. In the first three months of the year, there have been 155 youth-on-youth assaults and 28 youth-on-staff assaults at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center – up nearly 40 percent from the same period last year. Use of physical restraints is up 68 percent. “We have seen progress, but it has been slow,” said Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore. “It’s extremely easy to criticize, but it’s very hard to correct.”

Marlana Valdez, director of the independent juvenile justice monitoring unit, said the data show indisputable problems. “Things are rough over there,” said Valdez, who reports to the attorney general’s office. This year’s troubles at the 144-bed facility follow a steady rise in violence there last year. The number of assaults has gotten worse every quarter since January 2007. The report of rising violence “unfortunately does not surprise me,” said state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a juvenile justice reform advocate. The building is “a very poorly configured monstrosity,” he said. “It’s almost hard to know where to begin, there are so many problems there.”


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