Maryland officials have agreed to review the planned capacity for a $100 million jail for juveniles in Baltimore – a concession to groups who say the project is too big, reports the city’s Sun. The detention center is designed to accommodate as many as 230 teens facing adult charges, more than double the number now behind bars. Such suspects are currently held in a wing at the Baltimore City Detention Center, an arrangement the Justice Department says lacks adequate separation from hardened adults.
Advocacy groups that include Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Public Justice Center say the state should spend on intervention programs instead of huge jails. At a loud protest last month, they asked the governor to put the brakes on the project. Construction of the juvenile detention center is scheduled to begin in the fall. The state has spent $12 million for planning, demolition and site preparation near other prison facilities in East Baltimore; a separate $100 million jail for women is in the planning stages. This week, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency questioned the number of juveniles that the state expects will face adult charges in the coming years, the projections on which officials based the maximum capacity of the detention center.