Youth At Baltimore County Detention Center Face Harrowing Conditions: Report


Credit: Google/ Google Maps

BALTIMORE COUNTY - Juveniles charged as adults held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson face dangerous and abusive conditions, according to a letter from the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, WYPR reports.

The letter describes youths held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, cells flooded with "contaminated toilet water," and rat infestations.

Due to the conditions at the jail, Deborah St. Jean, director of the public defender's Juvenile Protection Division, is calling for the "immediate transfer" of all detained youth at the Baltimore County Detention Center to the Department of Juvenile Services.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the details contained in the letter stem from a visit to the jail by lawyers from the Public Defender's Office in November. This visit was a follow-up on a visit in 2018 where the Juvenile Protection Division found that the jail was not complying with education laws and was failing to separate juveniles from adults.

Alyssa Fieo, one of the lawyers who spoke with children at the jail, described a situation where children are isolated from their peers and support networks, causing significant strain on their mental health.

"Many of the students expressed that they've been feeling depressed, had trouble sleeping," Fieo said. "They wanted time out of their cells. They wanted to interact with other youth, other students."

According to Feio, children can only leave their cells for one hour a day to shower or make a phone call.

Juveniles charged as adults can be held in an adult detention center pending trial. Federal law requires that they be kept entirely separate from adults at the facility.

Maryland State law "discourages" children charged as adults from being held at adult facilities. WYPR reports that courts are directed to send juveniles to juvenile facilities unless released while awaiting trial, the Department of Juvenile Services needs more capacity for the children, or the court determines that sending the children to juvenile detention centers would create a safety risk.

Baltimore County Spokesperson Erica Palmisano issued a statement saying that the Olszewski administration is "carefully reviewing the letter and the concerning allegations raised and will closely evaluate current policies and provide a thorough response."

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified