Department of Juvenile Services To Close Two Facilities In June
The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services announced Friday that it will be closing two of its state-run youth detention facilities at the end of June.
“The Department’s population has been decreasing for many years,” Sam Abed, Department of Juvenile Services secretary, said in a statement. “Consolidating our resources now allows us to maintain the necessary services to treat our youth, and better aligns with our population trends.”
Kids and staff held at the Meadow Mountain Youth Center and J. DeWeese Carter Center will be transferred to facilities in Western Maryland.
A news release states that the department will provide transportation for families when facility visitation is reinstated.
Youths held at the Meadow Mountain Youth Center, an all-boys staff-secure facility in Garrett County, will be moved to the Green Ridge and Backbone Mountain Youth Centers located nearby.
There are currently seven boys in the program at Meadow Mountain.
The J. DeWeese Carter Center, an all-girls hardware-secure detention facility in Kent County, will be replaced by a “staff-secure” program on the Backbone Mountain Youth Center’s campus in Garrett County. Girls will be given access to local behavioral health resources and schooling through the local community college. According to a news release, girls held at this facility will have their own building, programming and staff separate from the 48-bed boys center.
They will share dining facilities with the boys’ center.
“The Backbone Mountain program better meets the needs of our girls,” said Abed. “Based on the low-level offenses of these girls, a staff-secure facility is more appropriate.”
The Carter Center relies on outside vendors to feed the young women held there. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Juvenile Services shuttered the Kent County facility in April because its contracted vendors pulled their services. Girls held there were transferred to the Lower Eastern Shore Children’s Center.
A news release states that three youths are currently being treated at the Carter Center.
Last month, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr (R) announced that universal testing will be implemented for staff and youth held in the Department of Juvenile Services’ custody.
This came after the Maryland Office of the Public Defender called for the implementation of the practice after it was revealed that 26 kids and 15 adults held at one of the department’s private service providers were found to be infected.
“We are rolling out testing across state facilities in a phased approach,” Department spokesman Eric Solomon told Maryland Matters in an email. “We are looking to group facilities into three phases. Youth will be the first to be tested, followed by staff.”
While it’s unclear the extent that universal testing has been employed thus far, the department is reporting that two youth are actively positive for COVID-19, and five others have recovered.
Additionally, six department staff are currently infected, while 13 others have recovered.