Baltimore County Looking To Relocate Minors Charged As Adults To City's Juvenile Detention Center
BALTIMORE COUNTY - The Baltimore County Department of Corrections is initiating a partnership with state authorities to transfer minors charged with adult crimes to a juvenile detention facility in Baltimore City.
At Tuesday's Baltimore County Council budget meeting, Walt Pesterfield, Director of Corrections, revealed that the county is discussing an agreement with the Maryland State Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that would see young inmates moved from the Towson-based Baltimore County Detention Center.
In a letter penned on March 6, Deborah St. Jean, head of the Juvenile Protection Division at Maryland Public Defender's Office, leveled some serious allegations. She claimed that young inmates, confined for up to 23 hours daily in intake cells, had to deal with flood risks, rat infestations, insufficient schooling, and health care provisions, and had unsanctioned interactions with adult inmates - a clear violation of state and federal youth detention regulations.
These revelations triggered an internal investigation ordered by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and appeals from the Baltimore County legislative team.
Last month, Pesterfield released a report challenging St. Jean's accusations yet acknowledged concerns about the Towson jail's suitability for housing young inmates. During Tuesday's assembly, he noted that his team implemented various changes to minimize the interaction between adult and child inmates. These included immediately transferring juveniles to a specialized facility post-processing and avoiding their quarantine in the intake unit.
In a statement, St. Jean commended the county's efforts to provide a safer environment for young inmates by diverting them to the city's juvenile facility, stating, "We have been fighting for these transfers, with increased success." She also noted that an agreement between the county and the state would protect those children ineligible for placement in a Department of Juvenile Services facility and are at risk of being incarcerated in an adult jail.
Although the State's Attorney always had the option of sending juvenile inmates to the Hickey School, a male youth detention center in the county, the idea of completely excluding youth inmates from the Towson jail is new, according to Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
As of Tuesday, according to reports by the Baltimore Sun, the Towson facility houses ten juvenile boys and no girls.