The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into claims of mistreatment of youths, inadequate staffing, and other problems at Maryland’s newest juvenile justice facility, the Baltimore Sun reports. Federal authorities are checking complaints that educational and other programs at the state-run Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center are lacking, and that youths have been improperly held in seclusion for lengthy periods as punishment, said sources.
Federal investigators plan to visit the facility over five to six days in September. A state spokeswoman describes the case as “not an investigation–it’s really just about them coming in and seeing what they can do to help us make the facility better.” The review will be led by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Litigation, which issued a scathing report last year about conditions it found at Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County and Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George’s County. The number of youths at Cheltenham has been scaled back sharply since the report was issued, and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will close most of Hickey by Nov. 30.