State Reconsiders Youth Jail Planned for Baltimore City

The State is now reconsidering the estimated capacity needed for a jail for teenagers facing charges as adults in Baltimore City. Originally, the jail was planned to house youth offenders separately from adults. The Baltimore City youth jail was to be a 230-bed facility, but a report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency released on May 13 suggests that the city may need half that many beds. The report prejects that youth arrests will decrease and that other methods of juvenile detention – such as housing youth offenders through the juvenile justice system – are much more cost effective and show better rehabilitative results. From the Baltimore Sun:

The youth lockup became a campaign trail issue last year for Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Both had a hand in planning the jail.

Just as officials prepared to break ground, juvenile services activists loudly protested, saying Baltimore needs more youth programs, not more jails. O’Malley agreed to the study that came out yesterday. The lower capacity reflects a downward trend in teen arrests.

Prison Secretary Gary Maynard said the state could adapt the facility plans to the new capacity suggestion — or go back to the drawing board altogether.

The state already has spent $14 million on planning, design, demolition and site preparation.

At one time, officials said the project was expected to cost more than $100 million, though more recent estimates put it at about $70 million. The state also wants to build a new women’s detention facility nearby, on the existing “prison campus” on Madison Street just east of the Jones Falls Expressway.

To read the full article with links to prior coverage of this facility by the Baltimore Sun, please click here.

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