Maryland prison officials are reducing the size of a proposed youth jail in Baltimore, a move that could delay by a year construction of the $70 million detention center originally designed to hold up 230 young offenders, reports the Baltimore Sun. Advocate groups opposed to the facility — who say money would be better spent on other programs — commissioned a study that shows the number of teen arrests is projected to decline over the next three decades.
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency released a report yesterday concluding that just 117 beds will be needed over the next 30 years under current sentencing guidelines and policies. The state had planned to start building the detention center last fall but agreed to wait for the council’s findings. The study said the number of beds could be reduced further if some sentencing practices are changed, such as housing youths within the juvenile justice system while they await trial. Those changes require action by courts and elected officials, said Gary Maynard, secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. “Those are all based on probably good theory, but it still becomes a situation where legislators have to change the law,” he said.