Report Lays Out Problems at Youth Facilities in Maryland - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Report Lays Out Problems at Youth Facilities in Maryland

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Several youth detention facilities in Maryland lack of supervision, treatment and educational opportunities for the juveniles who are incarcerated across the state, according to a report released by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.
    
The report describes dismal conditions at some youth facilities under review in Maryland, including maximum-security jails as well as lower security youth centers. It says they are dangerous and lack fundamental services such as educational opportunities, mental health treatment and recreational activities. The report recommends the facilities increase treatment options, and work harder to keep youth closer to their families - a problem the report identifies as having an adverse impact on young people in custody.
    
The troubled Victor Cullen Center in Frederick, a high-security facility for 32 boys, was among the facilities reviewed, and received the harshest assessment.
    
"Issues with safety, security and supervision of the youth remained of great concern," said the report, which was prepared by Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit tasked with overseeing youth facilities across the state. The report was released in May.
    
There were 21 assaults and seven attacks on staff members at the facility during the first four months of the year. Physical restraint was used 51 times, and handcuffs and shackles were employed 47 times. An alleged sexual assault on a youth, the report read, "occurred at least partly as a result of failed staff supervision."
    
The assault occurred when an overnight staff member allowed four boys to leave their cells at once; three beckoned the fourth into a single cell and assaulted him, having covered up the window with a towel. In another instance, a boy told investigators he was allowed to fight with another boy for 18 minutes.
    
"Youth have allegedly been 'put on contract' to surrender their food or face physical violence or other forms of harassment from other youth," the report reads. "These dynamics are reinforced by a lack of individualized treatment, inadequate staff training and insufficient activities programming."
    
At the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, assaults increased by 42 percent from this time last year, the report said.
    
Some facilities are taking steps toward increasing safety. At the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Montgomery County, the report says, administrators increased staff training and partnered with community organizations to increase the number of structured activities available to youth there.
    
The report heavily criticized the Maryland State Department of Education for not providing enough opportunities for youth to learn.
    
The Department of Juvenile Services said in a response letter that the agency is taking active measures to increase safety. At the Victor Cullen Center, the agency says security measures have been tightened and a new leadership team is being assembled and staff members are undergoing better training.
    
"Implementation of these measures has resulted in a more stable environment," the agency said.

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