The inmates were on a rampage, attacking each other with chairs and mop handles. A guard fueled the chaos by opening a locked door to let one side attack the other. Another guard kicked through two doors in pursuit of an inmate, who repeled him with a fire extinguisher. It happened last summer at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for juveniles in Baltimore County, reports the Baltimore Sun. One youth suffered a broken jaw, one had a skull fracture, and one had serious eye and facial injuries. Two staff members were fired. Two months later, the security chief was fired after wrecking a van loaded with Hickey residents on their way to court.
Housing about 260 youths, the state’s largest juvenile detention center has long been a symbol of what ails Maryland’s juvenile justice system. This week, Hickey reaches a crossroads. Tomorrow is the last day it will be run by Youth Services International, a subsidiary of Correctional Services Corp. which has managed it for nearly 11 years. The state will choose a new contractor to take over in July.
This may be the last chance for the private sector to get it right. Legislation would require the state to take over Hickey permanently in July 2007, when the population would be cut to about one-fifth of its current size.